Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Don't Like Reading

I came to the conclusion yesterday that I like writing more than I like reading.

That's probably quite a controversial and surprising thing to say, especially given that I did my degree in English literature, which needless to say involves a lot of reading of very good books, and I do my best to hold my own at our Ward's book club and generally have a stack of books by my bed. And if asked I will admit to loving anything by Terry Pratchett, Bill Bryson, Marian Keyes and our own Kerry Blair and Stephanie Black. And another Stephenie.

But browsing rows of books at a local charity sale yesterday I realised that I just didn't feel inspired to pick up and buy any of them even though they were going for just 10p each. That in my impossibly busy day, I begrudged the hours it would take me to read a book which probably wouldn't particularly enhance my life and might well have objectionable content or distressing storylines. (I don't like sad books. I managed to pass my degree without ever reading anything by Dickens and can't even bring myself to read the blurbs of those books about people's horribly abusive childhoods which seem so perversely popular these days.)

If I'm going to read a book I want to know from the outset that I'm going to love it. I need to know that I won't struggle through the first hundred pages just to give up because I don't care what happens to the characters. I need to be sure that the women in that book won't be frivolous bed-hopping, foul-mouthed shopaholics or some other offensive parody of precious womanhood. I need to be assured that I am neglecting my ironing and housework (and children) because I am going to be truly inspired, enlightened and improved by what I am reading. Before I part with my money, whether it's 10p or £10, I want to know that the book is worth the investment. That's why regular reviews, such as the one by Jennie Hansen at Meridian, are so valuable, and that's why the LDS market is so vital in supplying literature which is at the very least guaranteed to be clean and uplifting.

I do read, of course. It's essential for a writer to read good books in order to learn the craft and emulate those who are so good at it. But I find writing a much more enjoyable pursuit. I think it's fair to say that I only did my degree in English literature because it wasn't possible to do one in English language. Writing is creative, it allows me to build characters and to work with them to the conclusion of their story, it is challenging and it educates me. It enables me to express what I need to. I love knowing that what I am doing can give pleasure to others (mostly those who do enjoy reading) and I even get paid for doing it!

I may not have wanted to buy the latest Katie Fforde for 10p, but like other writers I am very glad that so many people love reading books and will part with their hard-earned cash for my modest attempts at writing.


Jennie said...

I'm afraid I have the opposite problem. Though I love to write, I like reading even more.I love discovering what others have written and voicing my opinion of it.lol Like you though, I hate wasting my time on trashy books. I'm lucky I get to read lots and lots of LDS books.

Jeri Gilchrist said...

I have to say it's a toss up for me. I LOVE to read. If it weren't for my love of reading, I would have never attempted to write. In fact, it's because of several ladies on this blog that I even tried to write for the LDS market because I admired their work so much. And of course my gratitude goes out to Kerry Blair for all she did to help me along the way!
I whole heartedly agree, there is nothing worse than wasting time and money on a book you have high hopes for come to find out it really disappoints you!