Greetings, Salutations and All That Jazz!
I’ve been contemplating things that start with the letter R, and have decided that there are 3 R’s to reading a book: The Romance, The Revelry, The Reflection.
As with any relationship, your affair with literature begins with wooing. Novels may not send you flowers or take you out to dinner (though they will write letters – hehe), they do have an inexplicable power to charm and woo us readers into thinking we need them. An example of this occured a few months ago. I was just minding my own business, watching the Idiot Box, when up pops an ad for the TV Miniseries of “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. Whilst I knew very little of the story, the ad aroused an intense curiosity to read the book. It didn’t even matter what the book was about, the idea lodged itself so resolutely under my skin. I then spent the next couple of days hunting it down, only resting once it had been acquired (never mind that it just gathered dust on my bedside table for a couple of months before I began to read it!)
The Revelry is pretty straightforward: you read the book. Nothing too difficult, there. Obviously, people’s experience of reading may differ – depending on the book, the reason for reading it, etc. I’ve termed this stage The Revelry, because reading is a pleasure, a privilege and I revel in it. Sometimes, if I really, I mean really love a book, I start to resemble a crackhead who will do anything for just one more chapter, just one more page -it’s not a pretty sight 🙂
Stage 3. You’ve been wined, dined; read your selected book (or did it select you?) now it’s finished and you think it’s all over. But, is it? Hells no! Now comes an often overlooked, but vital stage: The Reflection.
The great thing about The Reflection is that it doesn’t matter whether you liked the book or not, this is the stage where, with a little time and space, you reflect on the piece as a whole. The themes, plot, characters, your emotional response to particular aspects of the story are given time to perculate, simmering in the back of your mind while you subconsciously compare, analyse and form a richer, considered opinion. The Reflection is unbound by time, sometimes being days, weeks, months. It’s an enjoyable stage – capable of overshadowing The Revelry. You may have absolutely LOVED reading a book, it may have grabbed you by the balls and not let go (like perhaps, certain YA fiction that has be popular recently) but reflecting on the content, themes, characters, you may find that actually – you don’t like the characters, you don’t like the message and you don’t know how on earth you woke up wearing this Team Edward T-shirt! (You know, hypothetically). You may have the opposite experience, such as I did with Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I didn’t really enjoy the book while I was reading it, I didn’t trust the narrator, I didnt like most of the characters and there were times I just didn’t want to pick it up. However, The Reflection changed my whole opinion of it. I loved the novel as a complete, finished work. It is now one of my favourite books. (More to come on Wuthering Heights – watch this space!)
So there you have it, Mr Stephen King. I’ve been pondering things begining with the little R, The Romance, The Revelry, The Reflection: My 3 R’s to Reading. Together they form a harmonious, interesting reading experience.