I’ve been thinking lately about what makes a good read for me. These thoughts then led me down one of my musing paths on how most of you are writers as well as readers whilst I am an avid reader with eclectic tastes so what criteria do we use to judge a good read. Are you influenced by your writing styles? Does taste depend on mood, setting, time of year, pressure of life or just a whim. I spend a lot of my time reading. I enjoy well researched fiction, maybe based on factual events, with strong, believable characters. They can be flawed or in other words human. I believe reading, like painting and music, is ultimately subjective, this again reflects mood. Many times I’ve started to read a book and thought not for me but as a friend has recommended it I usually come back and try again. Sometimes the next time I try the book grips me and I find myself enjoying it. Why?
My good friend Tricia has shared some of the process in creating her books which has helped me try to understand her achievement in writing successfully. Lots of hard work and patience seem necessary, commitment and drive. Tricia quoted Nora Roberts to me (sorry I can’t remember the actual quote!) the gist of it was if you don’t try then you won’t experience failure or triumph so the fear of failure is debilitating. Writing a novel must be a step in the dark I think but then light shines through. Only you can confirm that for me but I thought I’d pose the question to you all of what do you consider a good read?
I read to relax; to escape sometimes; always on a journey by bus, train or plane; to help me sleep; as an indulgence with a cup of tea. Some books feel like old friends, others broaden and challenge my mind, take me to places I’ll never visit or back to places I have visited. The experience of reading about places I have visited reminds me of the time spent there, the streets I walk down, the views, so I relive the experience but in a different way. I sometimes read sagas and trilogies which are complicated if read on my kindle, I love books which have maps and family trees at the front to refer to if necessary. I indulge often in crime novels which lay several false trails until the real villain is revealed. My latest read is The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng set in Penang prior to the second world war. The outbreak of the war and its impact on the main characters is at times horrific but the book engaged me from the first page. The language and description is wonderful, the characters and events compelling, all human emotions are portrayed. I have never visited Malaysia, am unlikely to, but this book enabled me to experience in my mind what a beautiful, complex country it must be. A bonus was the map in the front! I’m finding it hard to follow on from this book, what to read next but I’ll keep trying to find another good read.
I hope I have raised some thoughts of your own on what is a good read. In an ideal world we could all sit down together with a cuppa or a glass of wine and discuss this complicated question which seems simple.