Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Am I a Literary Snob?

I've heard people say that being a writer takes away the joy they used to have as a reader. I thought, No! That will never happen to me! I love books too much. I never cared about whether or not the book I was reading would win any awards; I only wanted a good story that kept me turning the pages. 

Lately, though, I've had a harder time finding books that I enjoy. I don't focus only on an engrossing story. I look at the way the writer has crafted it. And then I express my frustration to my critique partner and wonder if she sees the same flaws I see! 

I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. It opens me up to recognizing the same kinds of flaws in my own writing, to see what I need to avoid doing. There's a reason why people recommend reading widely if you're going to be a writer. On the positive side, when I do find a book that I enjoy, I can look at it from a writer's perspective to see how the author succeeded with his or her craft. 

Do you look at books differently now that you're a writer? Is it a positive or a negative experience for you?

9 comments:

Carole Anne Carr said...

Can't help looking at it from a writer's point of view and learning what not to do and what works well.

Kristie Cook said...

Funny that you post this now because I've been quite disenchanted with my recent reading. I read a book once for enjoyment and then I'll often read it a second time to pick it apart, from a writer's angle. This is especially true if I really liked it because I want to analyze the structure and build. Lately, though, I've been finding all kinds of writing "no-no's" when I read the second time in stories I LOVED the first time through. Very popular books with lots of "...could hear..." or "...could see..." or "I decided..." or "She realized..." and tons of that's and was + ing's. As in every other sentence. All those things agents and editors and the "pros" tell us to fix to really make our MSs polished. BTW, these are published by the BIG ones, not self-pubbed, and have hit bestsellers lists.

So, I get frustrated because I end up with a totally different view of a book I really loved. But we can't stop reading - that would be worse.

Elaine AM Smith said...

This is a fascinating post. I hadn't thought about the general trends in writing. I've been amazed by the variety of books and styles out there. I love complex texts rich in symbolic images overlaid with metaphors ;) and simply told stories too. I read MG, YA and adult on rotation. I find the adult ones frustrating sometimes if the pace drags without a good reason.
Hope you find something you can really get your teeth into soon.

Stellar Meadow said...

I've been a writer my whole life, so I'm not sure I could look at a book any other way.. Interesting thoughts, though. (:

Jessie Andersen said...

Absolutely! In some ways it's more difficult to just read a book to enjoy it. I'm always analyzing it. Like you said, on the other hand, it's a huge benefit seeing how someone crafted the work. I'm learning each time I read.

Andria said...

I definitely read differently now. And, when I'm reading something that I don't love, I try to figure out what I don't love about it. When I'm reading something I put down, I try to figure out how the author created that momentum.

Marcia said...

Yes, writers read differently, even if they're not setting out to be analytical. It's so disappointing to hit those patches when I don't like ANYTHING I pick up.

Kari Marie said...

I used to find book I loved all the time, but now it is a bit harder. I'm pickier about it. When you study something so indepth, I don't think you can turn it off. You natually start looking at it from the perspective of what you've learned.

I've found the most fascinating discoveries by just asking the question why. Why did the author choose to do it that way.

Renae said...

I agree with your point and those made by your readers. I also run into books where I admire the writing but I don't really enjoy the story. Is it becoming more rare to find both good writing and good story?