books and reading

Reading as a writer is damn annoying!

It is getting harder and harder for me to read books for pleasure. It used to be the one certifiable way I could get away from things. But now, as I’m paging through page by page, I find myself critiquing the sentence structure and plot development. No matter what I do, I am reading as a writer, not just as a reader.

Lately, that means that I’ll start a lot of books and chuck them after a few pages. It’s really difficult for me to read those trashy novels I used to gobble up like bad television. But the worst the book, the louder that voice-over in my head gets: “Maybe the author could have done things better if she had written this that way….” It’s really irritating!

Despite this, I have managed to finish and start two books in the last couple of weeks. Don’t even get me started on the fact that as a kid, I used to read a book a day! There is no skimming for me anymore. You can’t skim and critique!

Still, I managed to finish the hardy “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” which could honestly be used as a weapon because it’s so thick. At first, I wasn’t too excited about a book that mixed memoir and literary criticism, especially since professor Azar Nafisi didn’t get to authors I’d read (Austen, James) until the second half of the book. But the mix was a good thing. It lightened some of the really tragic parts of the book (living in Tehran, whoa). I was really worried about the heavy parts, too, because I’m starting to realize that I can get into a funk when I’m watching or reading painful things. And the best part of the book was that it showed how literature, good literature, can give you hope, can give you dreams even when you’re in situations where you think all hope is lost and dreams are meant to be deferred.

Now, I am not reading something so heavy. I am getting another dose of vampire chick lit in the form of MaryJanice Davidson’s new novel, “Undead and Unwelcome”. I’m not a fan of the new covers, this being the 8th book in the series. But the thing about Davidson is that whether she’s writing about werewolves (check), vampires (check) or mermaids (that’s another book), you will be snorting, gasping for air and clenching your sides from the most delicious kind of laughter. This girl is funny even when the subject matter is sad or even when you are sad. I can’t tell you how many times this woman has picked me up from the dumps.

4 thoughts on “Reading as a writer is damn annoying!

  1. Are you taking a course. I'm reading Jumpha Lahiri “Unacustomed Earth” Amazing how much those Indians sound like Jews. I found Lolita boring and put it down after a while. Also I don't have too much sympathy for the Iranians given the way their leaders feel about us Jews.


  2. Hello I'm just coming by via twitter. I can empathize with you and mixedjewgirl about not being able to enjoy books or movies because as someone who has done acting, I'm always picking things apart and I'm the only freak that notices certain things. But the good thing about it all is that you're aware of the process and can see the mistakes and not make them yourself. It's no longer an escape but you could see it as a learning experience.


  3. I was tickled when I read this. The other day I was reading a short memoir in a literary magazine when I realized I was reading it with constant critiques. I kept thinking, well why didn't she say it like this? That's a run on sentence…..etc….not to say I am perfect in any way….far from it….but simply as I've been writing and reading more I have come to see certain things in a whole new light, literature-wise. I found that I wasn't enjoying the article and not because it wasn't a well written memoir but because I'm learning as a writer….finding my “voice”….so I would have to agree with your friend Ricardo, “see it as a learning experience”….



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