Ten Rules for the Reader of Novels
With apologies to Jonathan Franzen and, to a lesser extent, Teddy Roosevelt and Lynn Coady.
- The author is not a friend, an adversary, nor a performer. I mean, they might be dead, for one thing. But a book can be a friend. So can other readers.
- Fiction that doesn’t inspire a reader’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth reading (unless you’re in the mood for something other than a personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown, in which case, go for it.)
- Cultivate a literary pet peeve. When you see it, underline it and write “UGH” in the margin. Mine is misuse of “begs the question”.
- Read The Catcher in the Rye and other first person coming of age novels while you’re young. Those stories won’t be as interesting when you’re older.
- Wikipedia rabbit holes are fun, but remember, novels are fiction. Even historical novels. Even novels that seem to portray real people.
- You can find yourself in a novel by matching up the author’s or main character’s socio-demographic profile to your own, but try to read novels that “find” you in places you’ve never been or experienced, too.
- You read more sitting still than chasing after. Unless it’s an audio book and you’re involved in a car chase?
- Reading and the internet go together in ways that are difficult for some to imagine. But for real, put your phone away after 9:00 pm and read for the rest of the night.
- Don’t discount novels written in simple language as simple, or assume a novel written in complex language is complex.
- You have to love an author before you can relentlessly make fun of them.
My pet literary peeve? The blurb that contains the phrase “their lives were changed forever” or any variation along those lines. So cliched….
Nothing would ever be the same!
Or “tour de force”
That’s a good one too Rick
My pet peeve: And #InsertMeaninglessNoun might bring even more secrets to light…
PS Yes, about coming-of-age novels. Especially The Sorrows of Young Werther. (I think it might be a sin to mock Goethe, but really…)
Ooh, I haven’t read it, probably too late for me now 🙂
I love number three, although I don’t know what my pet peeve is so I’ll have to find one. Great to read these comments too. Thanks for sharing this!
I have pet peeves, but can never remember what they are until I come across them.
Yes to #8 and 9!