An Informal Survey of Writers About Reading

Since I’m almost always reading something, I figured I’d drop an oar into these waters. I am a writer, serious amateur photographer and once upon a time I wrote books about how to use software and some very complicated hardware.

How often do you read?

I am always reading something. Recently I’ve been rereading books by Terry Pratchett. I’ve read them all before, but some only once and these are books that deserve at least two readings — maybe more.

Do you finish every book you start?

No. If I get a few chapters into it and it hasn’t grabbed me, I stop and move onto something else. I sometimes go back to books I stopped and I’m in a different head space — and I like them more. It’s really less about the book than about me and where I’m at.

If not, what causes you to stop reading a book?

If it’s too dark or violent or if the writing doesn’t sound like “real” language. Stilted language, overly flowery language, sex where it doesn’t belong.

Boringness. Some writers just don’t know when to quit. I once read three hundred pages and the author was still describing dinner. Dinner? Seriously? There weren’t even a recipe in the description. Just endless descriptions of every dish on the table. Who cared? I certainly didn’t.

What’s your definition of flowery language?

Too many adjectives, especially gushy ones. If one will do it, two are too many and if two will do it, five are far too many. Personally, I’m of the “less is more” school of writing. I often go back over something I’ve written and delete almost all the adjectives and I always like what I wrote better with less description. The reader should be able to “see” what you are describing without being told every detail. It reminds me of the single piece of advice Garry gave me about writing.

He said, “There’s nothing more annoying than a reporter standing in front of a video of a huge fire explaining that this is a huge fire. That’s what the video is for. You don’t need to describe what the viewer sees.” While obviously in a book, we aren’t looking at pictures, we ought to be able to “see” what is going on in the book without endless or elaborate descriptions. The way people stand, act, talk, relate to one another and their world should be the story. You should not need a lot of adjectives.

Sometimes, you don’t need any adjectives (or adverbs) at all.

Does flowery language discourage you from reading a book?

It depends on the book and the era in which it was written. The genre also matters. If it’s more than 100 years old, you have to understand the era if you want to “feel” the book.

How important is the first line of a book or story?

Not as important as what follows it.

Do you read reviews before choosing a book to read?

As in formal reviews from of critics or informal ones on Audible or Amazon or Goodreads? Mostly, I get suggestions from followers about books they like. Almost all my favorite books were gotten as suggestions from readers. Please keep them coming!

Do you read eBooks or are you strictly a physical book reader?

Not only do I only read eBooks, but I almost exclusively listen to Audiobooks these days. My eyes are not what they used to be — and a good narrator can put the book into my head. I love Audiobooks!

What book are you reading right now (or the last book you read)?

I just finished Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett and realized I had forgotten the entire plot. It was like reading it for the first time. I finished it this morning. Next up is the new autobiography of Mel Brooks read by Mel Brooks, All About Me.

Did you leave a review?

No, not this time. I’m an intermittent review leaver. When I remember, I write a bunch of them at one time, Amazon rejects a few for reasons I don’t understand and I just move on.

Categories: #Writing, Anecdote, Audiobook, Books, language, reading

Tags: , , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. Thanks for yet another interesting post.

    As a teenager amidst LOTR mad teenagers, I tried the Lord of the Rings, got to the birthday party and put it on my bookshelf as too boring. It was only when, months later, I was stuck in bed recovering from illness, I picked it up and tried again. And carried on to the end, entranced and addicted.

    Rereading Pratchett is always a joy, even if you remember the plot, just for his descriptions of people, situations, things etc. After all, what book lover unable to pass a bookshop without feeling that urge to just ‘pop inside for a minute’ cannot disagree with this quote of his: ““A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny about LOTR. I had it for awhile, but I was confined to a hospital for four months and I left with it as my favorite book. It is so rich with a world of details. I used to read and write Elvish. Not exactly fluently, but I knew “the language.” We used to have a “Fall of Sauron Day” party which oddly, resembled a seder (I wrote it), but was a lot shorter and had a lot more wine.

      Long ago days!


  2. I couldn’t agree more, you covered the subject perfectly. How I see it too.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for your honesty, and the very thoughtful posting. Have a nice rest of the weekend, and if we dont meet earlier wonderful festive days. xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely and well thought out responses. Thank you for taking time to answer the questions in my informal survey. I enjoyed your post very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of all of the loves of my life (other than people), books are number one. I read every book I could find as a child. I think I read my way through the local library (very small library), the school library (even smaller), and all the books my mother bought at the used book store sales. We had to build an extra room in the house for books, so this seemed super appropriate 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      • I did not love books in the beginning. I resented them. My mother was an avid reader as were her parents. It was their only source of entertainment and escape. I think I resented the time with my mother I felt books took from me. I have mellowed out now and read much more than I did as a child.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I started out reading to my granddaughter. She couldn’t read yet and was having trouble “getting it.” So every day, we sat on my big bed and read one of the “house on the prairie” books. One day, she took the book and began to read, She connected the story and the words. I think for her at least reading meant INclusion.


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