I don't like the book I'm reading.
Sometimes that happens. Sometimes I finish the book sometimes, I don't. I have decided to finish the book I'm reading now.
It's a readable book, it's just not an enjoyable read, for me.
My point is this:
just because you don't like the book doesn't mean you can't learn from the book.
The book I'm reading is a New York Times bestseller. One of my students said she really enjoyed the book, although it was a bit, brutal. (I can't remember if that is the word she used, but it is brutal). For me, the brutality of the book is the voice.
Voice creates character. Character drives plot.
The voice of the narrator is monotone. It lacks tonal dynamics. It is the voice that interests us. The characters. We remember the characters. And they make us remember (and care about) the story.
So I don't care about this story. I don't care about this narrator. And remember, you can dislike a narrator for many reasons, but when you dislike the narrator because the writing is boring, that's not good. That's not why this author wants us to dislike her narrator. (If she even does, and I feel as if she must).
Here's an example of what I mean:
A character in the book is telling a story to the narrator about a sex party he and his wife attended when they were young. He is pushing 70, has a bit of dementia, and yet his dialogue is no different from the 30-ish-year-old narrator. It throws me.
And BTW, how many times does someone need to use the word untoward in one novel? I believe more than four is too many. When is the last time you used the word untoward? That is. without quoting Cate Blanchett in The Talented Mr. Ripley?
This author is a good writer. She knows how to construct a good sentence. She knows how to create gorgeous images, her dress as thin as smoke, (I might have to steal that) and she can shock a reader with some of her dark and bloodied imagery. (Often too much in my opinion but still the sentences are beautiful when she does it.) And yet, there are no tonal dynamics.
And, because she is a good writer, and can structure some beautiful sentences, I can learn something from her writing. I can take something away. I can add it to my toolbox. Take her particular color and paint it into a line here or there.
You can always learn something, even if the writing is horrible (this writer is not a horrible writer). You can learn how to change up an image or the shape of a sentence, or, you may learn what not to do.
The point I'm trying to make is you can always pick something up. So, even if you don't finish the book, you can learn something. And sometimes you read to learn. Sometimes you read to get something from the writing and put it into your writing. (That's what writers do). So your read the work, you get something from it, you don't have to love it or even like it.
And it is summer and sometimes you'll just want a good beach read.
And, if you have studied with me, you may, as you read, notice and then omit the adverbs as you go. "That adverb," you'll say to yourself, "is soooo not worth the five bucks."
This is reading like a writer.
After studying with me for a while, my students often say, "I don't read books the way I used to." And to that, my response is, "GOOD for you!!!"
I will probably finish the book today, sitting on the boat, the holiday sounds ringing out in the harbor. The too many booms and bangs, the laughter and splashing, the chugs and puts of motors and the boat hardware, shackles and such, clanging in the afternoon winds pushing in and out of my consciousness. I know, that when it wakes up and joins us all, the sun will feel good on my skin, and the organic cherries will be a crispy sweet snack while I read.
Enjoy your summer reads and remember to read like a writer.
AND don't forget to register for my Image Moment Refresher Class, the last class of the summer... We begin on July 12th!