September 19, 2010

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Reading Assumptions

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It always surprises me how one book can be interpreted so many different ways. I read classics with my online book club. These are books people have been discussing for decades, even centuries. Every expert has had a go at analyzing it down to the last semi-colon and yet there's no telling how any of us is going to react. Often I'll read a passage and think to myself, "I understand what he/she's trying to say. I'm sure my book club members will see it the same." Most of the time there are members who will say, "No way! That's not what he/she meant at all!" It definitely keeps things interesting!

Earlier this week, Amy from Amy Reads reviewed Naked in Eden. She admits this wasn't the book for her but in particular one aspect of the book bothered her. Fans of the author book made some rather broad and unfair assumptions about Amy based on her reaction.

There are as many reactions to reading a book as there are people who read them. I don't know how many reviews of Mockingjay I've read these past few weeks. I can't believe some of the reactions to it. It's not what I got from the book at all. Sometimes I wonder if we've even read the same book! It makes me wonder about the person writing it. Why did he/she react so strongly to this event or this character? And, admittedly, why can't they see things my way? No wonder we can't agree on religion and politics when we can't even agree about the same words on a page.


Have you ever made an assumption about someone based on how they reacted to a certain book? I'm not talking about what they read but how they reacted.

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This week has been a busy book week at the old mailbox.I never get this many books in one week! Here's what I received this week:

*Flight of the Falcon by Daphne du Maurier
*Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
*Witchcraft by Clary Croft
*Babymouse: Cupcake Tycoon by Jennifer Holm (for me and the girl)
*The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
*Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein

And then I decided to go to the thrift store and bought:
*Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery
*Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
*Priestess of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Speaking of Princesses... remember my The Princess Bride Readalong starts October 2nd. I hope you've found your copies and are ready to go. I can't wait!


PS- I officially changed my blog name from book-a-rama to Chrisbookarama. I changed my header to reflect that. You might like to change the title in your bookmarks or feed readers. And if you haven't added me to your feed reader, please do!

Image: Stefano Valle / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

18 comments :

  1. Assumptions are always awful. I know people who have written me off as a reader or decided I'm a literary snob because I dislike a book or a series of books, and it just makes me angry. The assumptions being made about Amy on that post (and on other recent posts, for that matter) are just wrong!

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  2. Yes, I always make assumptions about people based on how they react to a book. I don't care WHAT they read, but if they read the same as me they better react my way or else, :).

    Just this week I finished The Gargoyle and I read a few comments on another blog about the book that I did not get at all.
    I loved The Gargoyle and CAN understand that there are people who dislike it but not if I can't follow their reasoning. They said something about the book that I never found to be in it and I just did not get that.
    They also must have read a different book. Or the way I perceive things is very different from theirs. The weirdest thing.

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  3. Amanda- Maybe I don't assume things about them but I do wonder why they think what they do. Maybe I should start asking Why? more. Although it's often hard to express why I feel like I do, I just do.

    Rikki- The Gargoyle was such a divisive book. Either people loved it or hated it. I loved it. It was favorite book of that year.

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  4. AAAAAAAIEEEEEEEEE PRINCESS BRIDE!

    What were we talking about? Assumptions, they are bad. And I make them.

    WESTLEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

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  5. I have to be honest, I used to make assumptions quite quickly and often and then got burned in a really embarrassing way. The fault was on my side, btw. Since then I try my hardest to not make assumptions at all because they are most often wrong. And you know what, it actually makes my life a lot easier.
    As far as reading goes, the only thing I ever assume is that if another person is a reader like me, there surely is at least one thing we both can agree on and share.

    Great food for thought, Chris.

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  6. You always, always make assumptions, you have to, or you couldn't live your life. Within book blogging: you assume the blogger is a person, not a computer, you assume they actually read the book, you assume they wrote the blogpost (rather than copy from somewhere else), etc.

    And that happens at all levels, also with what they actually write. And if someone writes something you don't understand or see differently you have to make assumptions in order to try and understand: the person didn't understand the story, the person is a grumpy b*****d, the person is against democracy, whatever.

    But if the assumptions are a little radical, you don't comment with "Oh, but as a grumpy b*****d you would say that". You say "Maybe I'm wrong but you do sound a little as a grumpty b*****d, is that what you really meant?"

    And that makes all the difference! :-)

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  7. I think I tend to judge myself more based on my reactions than I do others. If I read a book and don't have the same ideas as other readers have had, I start to wonder did I just not "get it".

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  8. I wish I could say that I haven't made assumptions, but at times it is hard not to? Not because it is unavoidable, but because I''m a faulty human being like everyone? I hope I did not ever react like the people at Amy's blog did though..

    And:

    "No wonder we can't agree on religion and politics when we can't even agree about the same words on a page."

    That's oh so true! Sadly, sometimes, but wonderful as well?

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  9. I will admit that sometimes I wonder if people are reading the same book because the opinions are so varied, but I try to avoid assumptions. I know at least once person who does not like me at all because I am not a Harry Potter fanatic. I tried suggesting some books last year and got my head bit off because my taste, well, sucks. Considering I find that pretty juvenile I try not to turn around and do it myself!

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  10. I try not to judge people by the way they react to a book because I realize that not every book is for every person.

    You got a lot of great looking books. I've read one of Jennifer Holm's books and I loved it.

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  11. I know we shouldn't assume anything, but I will say that as a high school English teacher who is always recommending books, I have to judge to some degree by a student's reaction. I'm not sure that you can help making a snap judgment about a person's personality based off their opinions, especially if they are in direct opposition to your own feelings. Hopefully though, we keep in mind that people's tastes change and are affected by a lot of different things going on in their lives.

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  12. Raych- I'm assuming you like Princess Bride!

    Lilly- I bet we'd all avoid embarrassing situations that way.

    Leeswammes- That one little word- maybe- makes a difference. I think there is a difference someone says "Maybe you feel this way because..." And "you feel this way because..."

    Stephanie- I do that all time too. I wonder what is wrong with me.

    Iris- I can declare myself a faulty human being as well!

    Kailana- More of an overreaction, wouldn't you say?

    Kathy- Babymouse is a favorite in our house.

    Becky- I actually hate recommending books. It's so hard to know what someone is going to like. I gave a biography to my mom that I loved and she said it put her to sleep! So now I know not to give her bios.

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  13. When it comes to books, honestly, I do not make assumptions because everyone is reading a different book. Hear me out - we all bring to a book a certain set of life experiences, of preconceived ideas, morals, and the like. All of these impact how we react to a novel. Because of this, I am okay with people having differing opinions on a book because I understand that they have to have them.

    What gets me most upset in situations like this is when these same people refuse to admit that any other opinion is acceptable - as if theirs is the only opinion and all other theories and thoughts are ridiculous. I would much rather have a healthy debate about why you and I may differ about our interpretation of a novel than get into a war of words on why you are right and I am wrong, or vice versa.

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  14. Michelle- That's what's so interesting, everyone is reading a different book. I wonder if there has ever been a psychological study? I do wonder why a person thinks what they think as they read. How did they get such a different opinion than mine?

    And yes, that bugs me too- the my way or the highway!

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  15. Such a good point on why we can't agree on other more important things. :) We all bring such different life experiences, etc to a book and to everything else. It's amazing there's as much peace in this world as there is.

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  16. Hey I don't know HOW I missed this post, but definitely a great discussion topic - ME! Hah, jk. Seriously though, I was thinking the same thing when the comments started coming in... Have I ever reacted this crazily to a person because of what they thought??

    I sometimes wonder if we are all reading the same book when people have completely different opinions to my own after a certain book... and sometimes I'm tempted to wonder how they possibly got that from the book... but then I remember that we all like different things and the feeling usually passes!

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  18. Umm, I reread The PRINCESS BRIDE when I saw your first post about the upcoming readalong. Sorry I couldn't wait. IT was a fun reread...

    And yes, I think making assumptions is hard to avoid. But not good. Like the nasty comments I get if I dislike a book and post about. I tend to not like what everyone else likes though so I'm getting used to it.

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