I’ll admit, I went to the library after I finished The Queen of the Tearling to get the sequel – and I’ve barely touched it. I tried, I really did. But it is, if possible, worse than the first one. I even skipped ahead to see if anything caught my interest later, and it didn’t. So today I’m headed to the library again. Hopefully this time I’ll find a book that I really enjoy.
What books are you reading right now? I would love some suggestions!
I was at the bookstore recently and discovered that Robin Hobb has started another trilogy about Fitz! If you don’t know about my unending love for this character (and his story!) check out this post from 2013. And then go check out the books.
Anyway, I admit I’ve fallen down on reading lately (the major exception being Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents) and haven’t read anything by Robin Hobb for what feels like (and probably is) years. Quick reason why: her Liveship Traders trilogy did not capture me the way her Farseer trilogy did, and after the Tawny man trilogy I thought her days of writing about Fitz were over. Now that I know otherwise, I am ready to reinvest in the southern portion of her world (I have a strong belief that one ought to read books in the order they are written – and I’m glad I do that because Hobb is a master of weaving tales together). So I am embarking on the quest to read her Rain Wilds books.
I used to really love reading. Don’t get me wrong, I still do, but these days I struggle to turn off my writer part and just enjoy a story. I’m always thinking about better ways to phrase a sentence, always catching the bits that speak directly to the reader rather than the characters. Does one character really need to specify that a certain person lives next door, when the person they’re talking to already knows that? No. That is information only for the reader, and not necessary. To me, it clutteres the story and makes it difficult to focus on what’s actually happening.
I’m sure all of that is a personal preference. I’m sure some people enjoy that kind of world-building. I like a different kind of world-building. I like to feel the dirt and see the colors and be swept away – not given minute details that all of the characters already know. Let me figure that out on my own, or if it’s really important find another way to tell me. Think Robin Hobb, and you’ll have an idea of what I mean.
But I think the world-building I like is in the minority and the more I read the more I’m disappointed. Where are the stellar books that I used to read? Are the reviews really reading about this book that keeps cluttering itself? Is it just me, or are most books these days poorly crafted, no matter how intriguing the story?
Obviously there have got to be books out there that meet my standards (which are, I suppose, ridiculously high), but sifting through the other books is exhausting and, quite frankly, disheartening.
Reading has become a struggle for me, and I don’t know how to fix it.
Have you had similar experiences? What are your thoughts on the state of books today?
Let me tell you, I love when books are made into movies. I love seeing all the color and movement that I don’t get when I read (I think I’ve mentioned before that I am not very good at visualizing things when I read). I love sitting in a theater and knowing that everyone around me is as much in love with the story as I am (it’s really validating, to know that I am not as whacky as I feel!).
I don’t understand the craze of turning every YA book into a movie these days.* When I went to see “Catching Fire” there was a preview for “Divergent” (one that I have not read) and it looks fantastic. One of my movie-going companions said “We have to read that and then go to it!” And I agreed. I want to read a book before I see its movie. Still, this got me thinking about all the books that have been made into movies. Here are some of the ones that pop immediately to my mind:
-The Hunger Games
-Lord of the Rings
-The Great Gatsby
-various novels by Jane Austen
Why is it that we have such a strong desire to take the written word and make it into a picture? Is it because, like me, many people cannot visualize the story and so, unlike me, do not read? Or is it because we have become addicted to the screen (whether it is a phone, computer, TV or any other screen you can think of)?
On another, perhaps more interesting note, why are so many YA books becoming movies these days? I don’t have the answer, I just have the question. If you have any insights, feel free to share!
Take care, fellow travelers.
*Okay, I know it’s not EVERY book, but it sure as heck feels like it.
- Book to Movie Adaptations (chapterbookaxiom.wordpress.com)
I have recently finished reading a book by Natalie Goldberg called “Writing Down the Bones.” This is an excellent book about what it is to be a writer, strategies for writing, and reminders for when writing is tough. I finished the book in a few evenings. I highly suggest it first to writers, and second to other artists, and third to everyone else. There are a lot of stories and lessons that apply not only to writers or artists, but to everyone.
Take care, fellow travelers.
I recently read a book – a fascinating book – called “Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament” by Kay Redfield Jamison. This is a book that I would strongly recommend to any sort of artist*, if only to spread awareness.
One of the points of this book is that creative people create to help heal themselves. This seems to be a pervasive thought in memes and quotes from writers. On Pinterest probably half of the quotes about writing are about healing oneself. Which brings me to my favorite quote (of the moment) from Madeleine L’engle:
The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort towards wholeness.
So when you are feeling low, remember this. Remember that creating something might just help you.
Take care, fellow travelers.
*The book focuses largely on writers, but does discuss other creative types as well.
A couple of weeks ago, I finished a book called “The Storytelling Animal” by Jonathan Gottschall. The summary from the back of the book is as follows: “Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. Now Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems – just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival. Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal and explains how stories can change the world for the better. We know we are master shapers of the story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.”
Well. I picked this book up from amid the countless others for two reasons. First, as an avid reader and writer, I love to hear what people think about stories. I love dissecting stories and the reasons behind them. Second, and more importantly, it reminded me of one of my college professors (whom I will call H). H told stories all the time about his life, and was confident in the fact that stories are what make life rich.
The book, while not disappointing, was not entirely satisfying either. It started strong and ended strong, but the middle seemed rather muddled. Perhaps that is a bias on my part since I took two months of reading it while I was in the middle. But there were some questions at the beginning that I did not feel were fully answered by the end. Regardless, it was a fascinating read and I would 100% recommend it to anyone who is interested in stories.
Gottschall touches on many points of storytelling, including the creativity of stories, dreams, the biological reasoning for storytelling, stories having the power to change the world, and the mental health of story tellers. Each section was well-rounded and easy-to-read.
This is most assuredly a book for everyone, and I hope you will all pick it up. If you do (or have read it) let me know what you thought!
Take Care, fellow travelers.
Daughter of the Forest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I remember picking this book up when I was in high school. I didn’t read it then. It sat on my shelf until it was time to return it to the library. I don’t even remember why I picked it up then, because I was very much interested in young adult books and didn’t read much “adult” fiction. I think something about it spoke to me, but I wasn’t ready yet. I returned it and went on reading other things.
I came across this title again last year when I was searching for books with a strong female lead and written by a woman. I stored it in my mind under “books to look at.” This past Friday, I got my new library card. I wasn’t searching for any book in particular, but I still found “Daughter of the Forest.” I picked it up and took it home with me. I devoured this book. Had I not had other things to do on Saturday, I would have finished it in two days. As it was, I still finished it early Sunday morning. It was a fantastic book, full of detail and beautiful in its storytelling. This is a book that must be read.
As I said before, I wasn’t ready for it when I was in high school. I do believe that people have to be ready for a book. Sometimes, I buy books without really knowing why, and years later when I read them I understand. Something about the book spoke to me, but I’m not always ready to listen. All books can tell us something valuable, if we take the time to grow into them. I don’t rush my reading choices. I can spend hours in a library or bookstore. I wait for a book to speak.
This is a book that I recommend as highly as those by Robin Hobb.
Have you read “Daughter of the Forest”? What are your thoughts? Do you listen to the books?
Take care, fellow travelers.