Changing reading habits and me

I’ve mentioned numerous times on here about the books I felt forced to read growing up. It was the 80’s and the techno-thriller was king, at least that’s how it felt in my little corner of the world.

I enjoyed those books, but as I grew older I found myself gravitating towards darker stories.

I recently purchased Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, the book not the game. The last couple of weeks have found me reading through it and I found so much of it boring. As a writer myself I found places the could have been removed through editing.

Was Clancy brilliant in his world building, absolutely. Were his technical discussions within the books not needed in most places? After reading the three hundred pages I’ve consumed of Rainbow Six, I’d have to say yes. It feels like there are so many parts that could be removed.

This is not a review of the book. But I don’t enjoy all of that stuff anymore. It was cool reading those things in Elementary and Junior High, but as and adult, I found them boring and unnecessary within the constructs of the book.

I have read a few books that are more concise and less grandiose in their wording and content, but I feel I’ve outgrown the monotony of how this book works. I haven’t read any of the new books in the Jack Ryan series written by other authors, but I’m hoping they’re most concise and less about adding words and more about the story…at least that’s my hope.

On the other side though, the horror books I’ve read in the last year have blown me away.

I think small doses of Clancy and war books are a better idea. It’s not the length of the book that felt daunting, it’s the unnecessary aspects of scenes. Some of the scenes in that book could be done away with as I don’t feel they move the story forward and are more of stopping point.

I think my days of reading Clancy books, at least those written by the author prior to his passing, are over. I want to read the books in that universe written by the other authors but haven’t had time to do so.

I’ll go back to reading other things for the time being. I have a subscription to Nightworms and I get a few horror books from them a month. They are wonderfully curated and come with all kinds of goodies.

For now, I’ll stick to the smaller war and techno-thriller books.

The doorways.

Today, I read an article on Tor.com and it got my wife and me talking.

We started with which books were our gateway to reading regularly.

For her, the books she read were the Little House books, Anne of Green Gables, and The Secret Garden.

For myself, reading was different. There were books I felt I had to read to satisfy my father. Then there were other books.

The latter books were ones I wanted to read, and I did, though not in the living room where my father could see the covers.

This second group came from the school library or on my weekends with my mom. She never judged me for what I read. I believe one of the reasons I write horror and fantasy is because of the books she read.

I remember seeing my mom with horror books. Today, along with my wife, she’s the person I feel my books are written for.

When it came to the books my father had me read, it was always techno-thrillers like Tom Clancy, Dale Brown, and others. I was reading those books in sixth grade. I may not have understood all of the text, but I read them because it felt required of me.

The first time I read a book that I loved was The Indian in the Cupboard. It was one my mom bought for me. I read that book a few times.  I didn’t enjoy the second book as much and by the time the third came out I was bored with the series.

After we discussed our early beginnings with reading, my wife and I talked about books by authors we don’t read anymore.

For me, it’s Anne Rice, for her it’s the Lisbeth Salander books.

The first time I remember seeing Anne Rice’s books was with my father. I showed him Interview with the Vampire, I was fourteen. He said, “No, you’re not getting that.” Then he handed me a techno-thriller. I read the techno-thriller but remembered the cover for Interview.

It was years later when the movie came out that I read that book. If I had read Interview at fourteen I may have turned out differently. I loved that book, though The Vampire Lestat is still my favorite. I can still quote sections of the book.

I fell out of love with Anne Rice when she started the new Lestat series a few years ago. I’m not sure why I did, but it no longer holds power with me as it once did.

I believe we outgrow books sometimes.

Sometimes it’s the authors themselves.

My wife and I agree on that point.

With my own kids, I used to push books on them. Now, I let them read what they enjoy. I know what feels like to have a certain genre thrust down your throat until you gag on it, it’s unpleasant.

Today, I read a lot in the horror genre, but in order to improve my writing, I’m reading more regular fiction.

If you follow me on GoodReads you’ll see what I’ve read this year. It’s diverse but not as much as it needs to be. I can’t help it, I like to be scared or unnerved by what I read.

I like the challenge of getting through books that terrify people.

When I write, I try to have my wife and mom in mind. I think what would terrify them. Then I do that.

Our Delusions of Storytelling.

Street at night
No, the thing is, we all love storytelling, and as a writer you get to tell stories all the time.
Joyce Carol Oates
A story can come from anywhere.
The man at the bus stop with the sad face, why is he sad? The woman at the mall, her kids looking at her with frustration and anger as they’re dragged through the mall. What is going on with them?
There are also the dreams.
Waking from a ultra-visual dream and having a notebook on a bedside table to write it down, that’s one of the best things.
Storytelling and the visuals you see in each moment of the story–from the opening to The End–requires the writer to be creative at times with the writing, these moments can make or break the storytelling.
Look at your favorite books. Does the story pull you in immediately? Does the story take you to places you were expecting, or does it revisit old tropes?
When our species was young, we learned about things through stories told from travelers. They could be about anything, but those stories were written on cave walls for others to see. Because the stories were written down we know those people existed. We may not completely understand the stories, but through the drawings we get the gist of the story.
From ancient wall carvings to the newest thriller, storytelling is part of heritage.
Every story we tell, like the cave paintings of our ancestors, lives forever. One day someone will pick up a book, read a blog or tweet and learn about us.
What they read should be something wonderful. Write what you want to write, never write what the market is, you’ll like the writing better and enjoy the process more.
Show them great storytelling!

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