There are stories that I read over and over. The books change, I no longer read Gone With The Wind for instance. But, I did read it at least seven times, always turning that last page so see if there was more. Did Rhett come back? I used to reread for entertainment, now I do it to learn more.
What I learn from good stories
Let me be clear, I do learn from bad stories – I don’t re-read them, and in fact, I don’t usually fully read them – but this is about books you read over and over. As a reader, I learn about me when I read a story a second – or tenth – time.
The first read through is for entertainment. I enjoy the ride, I let the author lead me along and don’t really analyze the elements. That is when I know I have a good book.
Now that I’m an author, I read again looking for writing tips. Does the author create characters that I wish I knew. Did they surprise me with twists in the plot. If it’s a mystery did they give me the right clues in a way that allowed me to believe the outcome?
I learned about structure from the Dragonrider series by Anne McCaffrey and I learned about dire stakes from so many high fantasy authors. Barbara Hambly wrote a series of books about a mage battling a force of evil with the help of a woman from our universe. I kept going back to the series because of the relationship between the two main characters.
As a reader do you know why a book keeps calling to you?
Oh, if you could tell us poor authors that we’d all be very happy because we would write the books and you would be dazzled by the entertainment.
I am no longer able to just be a reader. I can’t turn off the writer in my soul. I’ve trained myself to ‘just read’ the first time. But I do wonder why some books catch the attention of readers and others don’t. I don’t get into ‘discussions’ about how a ‘bad’ book gets to be successful. I know that craft is important to writers – and to readers, but you don’t need to look under the hood – but if a book is successful then it’s a good book in my mind.
Ebooks and re-reading
Now that I read only e-books, I haven’t re-read a book in a long time. But, I know that the books are there, I know that I can download them to my Kindle again. I can put a book on my mental re-read list. I still have some books on my shelf in physical format. The Pillars of the Earth – man that is an epic story that pulls me through to the end. Shakespeare’s plays (about 10 of them) and The Lord of The Rings. They remain on the shelf, not because I love the feel or smell of paper, but because I wonder how many more times I will buy them. I’m on my third set of Shakespeare’s work. I’m on my fourth copy of Lord of The Rings and my third copy of Pillars of The Earth.
What books keep you coming back? Why?