The way I read is sometimes hard to explain. I read quickly and often. At the beginning of May, I've read 35 books so far this year. I don't know if this is considered a lot, I'm sure it is by some people. The thing is, I read to get what I need from a book. I pick up things that interest me and start reading. I enjoy non-fiction because I like to learn how things work.
I read a lot of fiction too, but it is rare that a book will just grab me. If I can get lost a book, it is special indeed. The best part is by reading quickly I can finish books even if they begin boring. It is always a nice surprise to get about halfway through a book and realize that it is really good, it just took a while to get started.
This has happened to me twice very recently. I was about ready to give up on a book when a twist or development in character kept me going. Though, I would prefer to be more engaged through the entire book, I don't mind changing my opinion halfway through.
The two books this occurred recently were both just a step out of my usual reading genre. They were true "chick-lit" versus more Contemporary literature or romance. "Beach House" by Mary Kay Andrews and "Secrets in Summer" by Nancy Thayer proved to be good stories, once they got going.
"Beach House" features a film location scout named Greer, who is on her last chance to prove herself in the industry, a family tradition. As she searches for the perfect "old time beach town" for her flighty boss and director, Greer stumbles on Cypress Key, a sleepy town on the Florida panhandle. The antique, slightly rundown atmosphere is just what the film "Beach House" calls for; however, the community has some drama all of its own. When film and small town collide, Greer and local mayor Eben have to figure out how to work together to keep the film and town from drowning.
At first I found the characters stale and the setup cumbersome. However, the story intrigued me and Andrews leaves enough bread crumbs to keep me turning the page. About halfway through the momentum begins to build and the characters gain depth. It is always a nice thing to be able to see the world through a new perspective and that is what these characters begin to learn as they work together and compromise. I was surprisingly enchanted with the conclusion making me grateful I stuck out to the end.
It has become a joke over the years how I read slower when a book is particularly good. People sometimes question my sanity, but I read for information so once I get what I need I move on. Non-fiction is easy to read because it is naturally set up to provide information. I know what I am supposed to learn before I open the cover. The author sets his or her intention on the subject within the first couple chapters. The rest of the book is simply a series of details to support that claim. I enjoy all the fun facts along the way, but it usually lends itself to a quick read. Of course, there are exceptions to this if I get really interested or if it is a subject I am studying and decide to take notes.
Fiction, on the other hand, is a completely different manner of reading. It is not always obvious what the reader is hoping to portray in the story. Often times, it will develop slowly over time. With these recent reads, the dynamic of the book can even change throughout the story.
When I am really into a story, I begin to read each word instead of each paragraph, which slows my reading time down drastically. If you are not familiar with speed reading that may sound strange, but it is a fairly common practice for people who have to constantly read a lot of material. I do it by choice, a habit I picked up in college and never really gave up. In fact, I enhanced it. Over time I trained myself to read quicker and retain more comprehension.
I also taught myself how to start and stop, even in mid-sentence if necessary, and how to read with a lot of distractions around me. I am a mother, without this ability I would not have been able to read much in the last eight years. I enjoy reading too much to let it fall away, so I just worked around the interference.
Another book that surprised me recently was "Secrets in Summer" by Nancy Thayer. This one sort of fell in my lap, so I opened the cover and started reading. I didn't even really like the premise that much at first, but still I kept reading.
Darcy had a hard childhood, but found solace and stability in her kind, though private, grandmother Penny. When her beloved grandmother died, she inherited a house on the "glamorous island" of Nantucket. By living there all year round, Darcy had a unique perspective of the traditionally seasonal vacation spot. As the tourist season opens once again, Darcy witnesses the complete culture change of the island.
However, this year she finds a surprise right in her own backyard. Her ex-husband has moved into the house backing her with his new wife and teenage step-daughter for the summer. Added to them is an elderly lady with her attractive grandson next door and a mother of three down the street. Though Darcy normally doesn't affiliate much with the summer residents, this year proves different. To top it off, she is exploring a budding romance with her own local carpenter. The summer turns into quite an adventure full of emotions, life decisions and learning the power of friendship and love.
It took me a while to realize I actually enjoy the stream of consciousness writing style. It is similar to my own inner monologue and I found it easy to read, even if the writing is simple. I wanted a little more from the characters themselves, but I was pleased with the journey they took me on.
The beginning of this novel provides too much back story all at once before I had a chance to connect with the character herself. It took me a long time to really invest in this book. At one point I even asked myself why I was still reading it. However, Thayer incorporated enough detail in the narration to keep me wanting more.
A little over halfway through the novel, the momentum finally started to build and I wanted to know what would happen to these characters. Though I still wish for more character development, I did appreciate the story. It never comes to any great conclusions or statements on life, but it is a fun summer read. Sometimes, it is just nice to get out of my own head and tap into another's inner perspective. In the end, I appreciated this book for its simplicity and realized it is simply meant to be a fun read.
I would recommend both "Beach House" and "Secrets in Summer" as good "beach reads." Perhaps it is simply the genre that dictates the style these books are written in. Once I realized that, I enjoyed them both much more.
I like a book I can get lost in. But I can't really tell you what creates that magic. As I write my novel now, I am really trying to figure out how to create that engagement that makes you really care about the characters. I want to create a piece of art that allows you to experience life through a new perspective and enjoy the journey along the way. I want to facilitate a portal into a world that will allow you to get lost in a world that is similar to yours, yet also set apart. I don't know exactly what makes that, but I hope to find it and recreate it.
Until then, I will keep reading and hoping to discover those special books that send my reading speed to a crawl and making me never want a story to end. There's magic in that. I think we all need a little more magic in the world.
Are you a reader? What genres do you read? What types of stories allow you to forget about life for a while? Have you read anything good lately? Or bad? I love talking about books and writing. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Have a magical day.