I was thinking the other day that there are things you read that make you feel smarter for having not just read them, but also understood them. The opposite can also be true. I’ve read things where I was sure the author thought whoever was going to pick up their book was an idiot. Maybe that’s unfair. Perhaps they just didn’t think about how it would come across when they wrote it. Maybe they thought it would come across as funny or something. Who am I to judge?
I guess the argument could also be made for characterization? But there again, I would have to say that you can make your character come across as young without having them come across as dumb (unless, of course, one of your character’s traits is stupidity, then by all means…). I think in the case below, though, it feels like the character (the author) is treating the audience (reader) like they are dumb. I’ll let you judge for yourself. The book is Michael Vey The Prisoner of Cell 25 written by Richard Paul Evans and the passage is:
“Don’t ask me what state Idaho is in – news flash – Idaho is a state.”
And just in case you’re going to judge me for reading a YA novel, I’m going to tell you that I’ve read some well-written YA novels and enjoyed the hell out of them. I didn’t think that of this book or the series as a whole (the first three books anyway). I picked them up because they entranced my son and he was reading like I have never seen him read before and I wanted to share it with him. After finishing the third one, I told him he was on his own. There was just something about the author’s style and how he portrayed his characters that made me rage.
I digress. My original idea for this post was feeling smarter when reading. (But here again I must say that you don’t always have to read the classics to feel smarter when reading. I just happen to be reading this book and wanted to write about it.)
I started reading Persuasion during the holidays, but it isn’t something I’m reading full time. For one, it’s in a huge book along with six other novels by Jane Austen so it would be a pain to carry around with me everywhere. For another, it isn’t something I can read just anywhere. At least, not at the moment. There are some styles that take some getting used to when you first start reading them, and for those, I need peace and quiet; which rarely happens at home unless it is just before bed or first thing on a Saturday morning if I can get out of bed without causing my boyfriend too much grief. (Saturday morning is also cuddle time)
I think I also went through a transformation last year and I read things in a completely different way now. I used to read books purely for enjoyment. Now I’m reading things with an eye as a writer – how did they set this up; why did they choose to do that; flavoring, sentence structure, and so on. I read Jane Austen and I’m blown away at her style and how she just puts words on paper.
Case in point:
“How eloquent could Anne Elliot have been! How eloquent, at least, were her wishes on the side of early warm attachment, and a cheerful confidence in futurity, against that over-anxious caution which seems to insult exertion and distrust Providence! She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.”
It seems I’m in awe after each paragraph, each page and I sit at the end of each reading session entranced by Jane Austen and this lovely book I’m reading.
What about you? Do you have books that make you feel smarter when you read them?
This post was written as part of Just Jot It January hosted by Linda G Hill. Feel free to click the link and join in. We don’t bite, I promise!