Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reading Confessions

I love a good story. I don't care whether it's through a book, a movie, TV, or even straight from someone else's mouth, I appreciate good storytelling. I'll bet all of you do too.

I read more than the average person, I daresay (again, like most of you) but with one caveat: I don't buy books before I've read them and I only buy books I know I'll read again. Here, I'm not average. At times I feel twinges of guilt that I don't blow all my change on books to support other writers. Then I remember that not only am I a writer, I'm also a consumer.

I do utilize the library. Wouldn't know where to be without one! I also love that my library lets you make order requests for books and movies. So inadvertently, I have supported other writers by getting my library to order their books. Honestly though, I'd say that 85% of the books the library orders in for me to read turn out to be a disappointment or not what I thought they would be. From a consumer point-of-view, I've saved loads of money. Other library patrons, however, may pick up those books and love them.

Why don't I blindly buy books? While covers and summaries are enticing or I've enjoyed a writer's other stories before, it doesn't mean I'm going to love their next work or that the actual story between the cover will meet the expectations I get from the summary. Money's always been a precious and rare resource for me so I can't indulge. I don't want to indulge. I'm like a book detective, taste-tester, or a consumer literary agent, I want to spend my money only on the stories I love.

This is another reason why I get into beta reading. I get to try out new stories for free and discover new stories and writers (and root for their story to reach publication so I can buy it!) I think there are quite a few unpublished stories that have stuck in my mind longer than some published ones.

So what does any of this have to do with you? First off, I'm an oddball. There are still tons of people out there who blindly buy books based on word-of-mouth, a great cover, or summary. But, if you get an oddball like me to buy your book because I truly love it, you've got a die-hard fan for life. I don't just browse the best-seller lists, although I sometimes will read a book based on the recommendations of others. I'm hunting for a good story with unforgettable characters. I do sometimes buy a light, frothy book because it makes me laugh or the setting was unique but mostly I'm looking for those great reads that I can glean something new from each time I pull it off my shelf to read. (No, I'm not a literary genre snob by any means, though I do enjoy a lot of classic literature.)

I support you as a writer if you write from the heart and with the truth you know inside. If you can spin a world I want to visit over and over or introduce me to a character or two I can't get enough of. If you can thwart my ability to second-guess plot or surprise me by making me laugh out loud, I support you. If you can have something noble and worthwhile about a character or underlying theme, and can make me cheer because good conquered bad, I support you. I love characters with willpower and self-restraint, even if they have a plethora of weaknesses and challenges to overcome. I like to learn new things and see what it's like from other perspectives and cultures. I’m a sucker for a good adventure story or a battle of wits and wiles. I want to feel good or even thoughtful after putting a book down.

You've got the gist of my general subjective preferences. Feel like chiming in? Put up a similar post on what sort of book buyer you are and what makes you open your wallet and heart to a story on your blog. Be sure to send me the link because I'd love to read what you have to say. Or post in the comments.

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