August 28, 2008

BTT: Story Time

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Booking Through Thursday

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me?


Um, well, not exactly. I love me a good story but I can love a book with no story and everything else. Take Breakfast at Tiffany's. There is really no story. It's a character sketch of an unusual and complicated woman. The writing is extraordinary. But is there a plot? Not really. And that's okay. One of my favorite authors, Carol Shields, used very little plot in her stories as well.

Then there are books where you should hate the story, like Lolita. Pedophile kidnaps tween; let's see what happens. Yuck! But despite this, I ended up loving this book because of the language. I wish the stories had been different, but whatcha gonna do?

Of course, I can turn off my brain and read just for the story with nothing else. The Da Vinci Code wasn't the greatest writing ever set down on paper but there was plenty of story. I was exhausted from all the running from place to place in that one.

A not so great book is one where the author can't make up his/her mind. Just when you think the story is going to go somewhere, things just stop happening and the author tries to throw in a bunch of metaphors. I'm thinking of a recent novel which I will not name. I will forget the name (hint, hint).

So I guess I'd say that I read different books for different reasons.

9 comments :

  1. Different books for different reasons - I like that. =) I sometimes think I could enjoy a whole book where nothing happened, if it had characters and a world I loved. Sometimes the most fun parts of a book aren't all that important to the actual plot.

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  2. Milan Kundera's novels have virtually no stories and I love to read those!


    Booking through stories

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  3. Thank you! I too, enjoy books for different reasons. They're kind of like old friends in that respect, aren't they? We like them for different reasons.

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  4. Hmm...I suppose it all depends on the type of books I read. But I definitely go for plot and the characters in a story.

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  5. re Lolita -- exactly! The bare facts of the story are uncomfortable and repellent, but the writing is astoundingly gorgeous. It propelled Nabokov waaaaay up in my mental best-authors list.

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  6. I agree. There's nothing like a book by a bold author who knows what he or she wants to write!

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  7. Lolita is the perfect example of how beautiful writing can trump everything else. I absolutely love that novel. I haven't read any other Nabokov because I don't want to ruin Lolita. It's just that good. However, if that story was written by any one else, it would be worse than trash. I'm not sure if that is the best definition of art, but it certainly distinguishes Nabokov from other writers.

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  8. Very well put, Chris! I am the same way. Some books are stronger in one area than another and it works well for that particular book. Depending on the book, I appreciate different aspects of it--but most importantly, all of the aspects of it.

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