Insight: Why? Part One
Have you ever thought about why we do what we do? Why Pepsi no Coke? Why Funyuns instead of Cheetos?
Apples or Oranges?
Okay, that’s a bit basic.
Why do we read? Why do we write? Well, believe it or not, the two are connected. We write because we read, so why do we read? Recently, I was asked to shed some light on this question, and on a personal level, here’s what I came up with:
I read because I breathe. I read because the world around me is a harsh and scary place at times. Every once in a while it is good to sit back and relax with your new friends you met between the pages of a novel. Maybe they’ll share the secrets of the universe with you, make you think differently about yourself, even hate yourself, or maybe they’ll make you laugh so hard you’ll forget about the slobbering idiot who tossed the pen at your head at the bank. Anything can happen, right?
Choosing a book to read is like picking out a new puppy. You want fairness. You want to choose the one that is going to fit your lifestyle. You want to pick the one you can relate to.
Sounds ridiculous, right? Of course it does. Honestly, I’ve never read anything by Stephen King. Why? Because I know if I read that at my usual reading hour, (12:00 am to 1:30 am), I will never sleep again; therefore, he does not fit my lifestyle, I cannot relate to him, and in having that mental dialogue with myself, I feel I’ve been fair. (Though in all fairness, when my ‘to read’ stack is shorter than six feet tall, I will be finding a copy of Carrie.)
That being said, when examining my stack of books, you would notice that most of them are historical fiction. It takes me to a place and time where everything was different – the people were nicer, the money was new, and the cars (if any) were domestic. It sucks me out of this computer driven world, and tosses me into a world where nothing was as easy as the click of a button – you had to talk to a person to make a phone call, cars didn’t take gas, people were more respectful, and we sealed our envelopes with wax. When you can turn a page of Twilight, and feel like you’re sitting with your best friend, like you’ve known Bella Swan your entire life – that is good writing. That is what keeps me reading. (Disclaimer, I do not consider Twilight canonical or high quality literature, just leisurely reading).
A book has two tests to pass before I’ll read it, (possibly three if need be). First, the cover must catch my eye in a way that makes me flip to the back blurb. (What’s she frowning about? Why is she in the gatehouse? Who is the Pigman? Etc.) Second, the back blurb must give enough information to peek my curiosity, without giving away everything. Finally, (and many of you will stone me, and I fully admit my guilt and accept my punishment), if I am still not sold on a book, I will flip to the last page and read the last sentence.
You’re all welcome to hate me now.
What it boils down to is if the voice of the author is one that speaks to us, resonates in our hearts, and reminds us of the people we want to be, those are the books that feed my literacy. Writing a novel is no easy feat, so if you can, and manage to grow an audience like that of Twilight or The Hunger Games, it is written in the stars. Thus the ink in the veins spills out inspiring a new generation.