My friend Amy is an avid reader and word lover. And she loves to share this passion with her son, Danny, just as I do with Alex. In fact, Amy and I met when the boys were small and even back then, we both relished reading to them and giving them books. No wonder then, that both Alex and Danny are great writers and book lovers! And that, in itself, is a source of deep pleasure to Amy and me as moms.
Whenever Amy and I get together for coffee, a munch, and a catch-up, the topic of what we’ve been reading always comes up. We like to trade titles and mini-reviews of books with each other. Amy often reads this blog, which I just love! And occasionally, she even passes a post on to Danny, which gives me a boost. It’s so much fun to know that Amy’s following my literary ramblings.
Just recently, she told me that she was reading a new book that I’d heard had gotten rave reviews. She offered to loan it to me when she was done: it’s sitting downstairs by my favorite reading chair right now and I can’t wait to dig into it. When Amy passed it on, she said she hoped I didn’t mind the fact that some pages were turned down and she’d marked up the margins. I love the idea that she’s so actively engaged with what she’s reading.
Amy is truly a writer’s reader: Not only does she love to read, she also loves to reflect about what she’s read, and share her ideas. She belongs to three book groups. Not one or two, but three! One group recently read a very popular literary novel, which she wasn’t all that crazy about. While most members enjoyed it, Amy found it didn’t engage her because the author didn’t make her care enough about the two main characters. She also felt the whole premise of the book wasn’t strong enough to build a story around.
Wow! That really struck home with me. Not only does caring about characters also matter hugely to me as a reader, but as a writer, one of the things I’m working on hardest in my YA novel is making sure that my main character connects emotionally with readers. Amy’s astute comment reminded me just how incredibly important this is.
But here’s something Amy told me that really caught my attention: Not only does she love to read, reflect, and discuss books, she also enjoys writing about them. In fact, she keeps a book journal on her computer where she lists titles, book summaries, and thoughts and insights about what she’s just read. What a fabulous idea! Just recently, she reviewed the titles in her journal and selected six of them that she felt were truly wonderful and gave copies to her son Danny. What a wonderful, priceless gift! Bravo, Amy!
Good points. The more fiction I read the more I savour character-led narratives. For me there have to be very special compensating features to make strong characters in a novel dispensable.
I also approve of Amy’s note-taking when reading as a way of engaging more with the story. That’s why I’m trying hard to write reviews of most of my current reading: I see it as a way of respecting and appreciating the author’s skill and effort, especially if the writing’s something special.