Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Reader Writes - All About Books From a Reader's POV



Being a former English teacher, of course I've always been interested in people's reading experiences.  Now that I'm a writer, I'm even more fascinated to hear what books and reading mean to people.  I therefore thought I'd run a series of posts inviting readers, rather than writers, to talk about their likes and dislikes and what they look for when reading purely for pleasure.

I'm delighted to introduce my first guest, Ruth Sherrington, who is a dear friend and former teaching colleague of mine and therefore also has a keen interest in reading and strong views on the subject.  So, over to Ruth for...

A Reader's Point of View

The Buttercup Fairy by Barbara Campbell
I have always been a keen reader, and in fact I remember the nursery school principal being rather displeased with my mother because I was already reading fluently by the time I went there which meant that I was way out of step with their teaching schedule!  I particularly remember a book I loved called ‘The Buttercup Fairy’ which was about a fat fairy (I was rather round when I was little), but when I got older I started to read historical novels by writers such as Henry Treece and Rosemary Sutcliff which I absolutely loved.  I used to disappear into books and just not emerge until I had got to the end.  I read all of the Tolkien ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy before I was twelve, and have continued to read just as much all my life.  I have some favourite authors now, who include Graham Greene, D H Lawrence, George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh and Anne Bronte, but as I teach about books for a living I read widely and have learnt to appreciate the craft of all kinds of writers from Jilly Cooper to Jane Austen.  I often read ‘chick-lit’ for relaxation and I think it serves a useful social purpose by providing a kind of harmless escapism – much better than most of the films released nowadays, which I find are not often directed towards women’s concerns and issues.

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy
Filmed versions of novels don’t usually appeal to me because I believe that the reader works with the author to create the characters in his/her own mind, but I did enjoy the Colin Firth ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and also the Keira Knightley version, rather against my better judgement! 

I do think that reading is a matter of personal choice and that forcing children to read is counter-productive but that all little children should be read to (and with) from babyhood onwards, as I truly believe that this is where literacy begins and that it should be a birthright for all children.  I may be wrong but I think the huge increase in diagnoses of dyslexia may be connected to the fact that children are not so often encouraged to love and listen to words on the page from an early age.

To me e-books don’t really have the magic of paper books but I still find my e-reader really useful for downloading books when I need to read at short notice, for example when I get into bed and have nothing to read before I sleep.  But then I am the kind of person who reads the back of cornflake packets rather than have nothing to read, so I am a bit of a hopeless case when books are not available. 

Will Self
Toni Morrison
I really enjoy finding out how modern writers are taking the novel forward and have particularly enjoyed reading the work of Will Self and Toni Morrison in recent years – in fact my ideal literary dinner party guests would definitely include those two writers, the lovely Lyn Sofras and all the others mentioned above plus about thirty others, so I think I had better book a room at the Dorchester to fit them all in!

19 comments:

ManicScribbler said...

Thank you so much Ruth for starting off this new project and providing us with such a fascinating insight into your reading experiences, preferences and beliefs.

I thoroughly enjoyed your post.

Ms_Benefit said...

What a wonderful idea to have the POV of dedicated readers. I an so pleased,Ruth,that you also read the Tolken trilogy at a young age and as someone who enjoys the feel of the physical book I too read ebooks. In my world most everyone reads. Keep this project going!
A fan...

Ms_Benefit said...

What a wonderful idea to have the POV of dedicated readers. I an so pleased,Ruth,that you also read the Tolken trilogy at a young age and as someone who enjoys the feel of the physical book I too read ebooks. In my world most everyone reads. Keep this project going!
A fan...

damyantiwrites said...

I find so much in common with this post. Sometimes, when stuck in a hotel room without a book, I've read the room service menu to sleep!

Corinne said...

Lovely post to express thoughts I agree with wholeheartedly! I love books and reading, and continue to enjoy rereading some from my early days that simply captured my heart. Also, Colin Firth's Darcy is my absolute favorite!

Jenny Twist said...

I loved this. Could have been me speaking. I was also a fluent reader before I started school, but my teacher was rather different. She told the headmistress, who sat me on her knee and listened to me read. When I couldn't pronounce 'nasturtium', she took me outside to the garden to show me an example. i will also read cornflake packets in lieu of anything better, and had my first French lessons from the labels of Heinz tomato sauce bottles!

ManicScribbler said...

Thank you, Ms_Benefit - I certainly hope to invite lots more readers to air their views.

ManicScribbler said...

Thanks for dropping by Damyantiwrites - and for making us smile at the thought of reading a hotel room service menu - riveting reading, eh?!

ManicScribbler said...

It sounds like you have much in common with me, as well as Ruth, Corrine. Thank you for dropping by and commenting.

ManicScribbler said...

Lovely stories, Jenny - you were probably the first child in your school to know what a nasturtium was - and I bet you never forgot. For some reason, we never had tomato sauce at home when I was a child - must explain why my French is so bad! Thanks for the great anecdotes :)

Debbie said...

This was a great idea and a wonderful post. The most important.person to a writer is their readers. This was insightful and very informative.

ManicScribbler said...

Thanks, Debbie - I couldn't agree more and I'm so pleased you enjoyed the post.

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