How to Enjoy Books (Again)

Since starting school, I haven’t had a lot of time for pleasure reading. To my credit, I didn’t let it lapse entirely, but I definitely stuck to the sure things: fall finals season saw a reread of Good Omens, and I got around to finishing up Goliath over spring midterm season. Safe choices, books I’ve read or the conclusions to series I have every reason to trust. Consequently, it’s been a very long time since I’ve read anything by a new author, since I’ve taken any kind of risk.

And after blitzing through Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, boy, am I glad I’m back. Unusually for me, I love the heroine; even more unusually, I genuinely like her love interest. I can’t wait to see how the story ends, and I have the next two books sitting in a Books-A-Million bag on my bed, ready and waiting. I spent almost twenty bucks on an author who is, effectively, still unknown to me. But I’m loving the ride, loving trying to guess at what will happen, which characters will die or rise to prominence, how the story will turn, because I believe in this author to make those turns meaningful, exciting, and real.

That’s the only way to really enjoy books: faith.

When we’re little, we have faith in the author automatically. Someone printed his words in a book; he’s got to know what he’s talking about. We read voraciously, developing our “book sense” of how stories should go, of what details could mean. We’re more willing to try anything that looks interesting, and more often than not we’re rewarded.

Then we get a little older, and those authors we trusted so much start disappointing us. At some point, we realize that just because a story was printed doesn’t make it good, that even hugely successful books can ring hollow. We lose faith, stick to the sure things and break out of our comfortable book-bubbles only grudgingly. We sap the excitement out of the experience. It takes a special author–for me, it was Sanderson–to smack us upside the head, remind us of the importance of that faith, and give us a reason to believe again.

That’s the thing that’s most important to me as a writer: I want my readers to have faith. I want them to believe in me so that I can take risks and deliver promised rewards. I want to be the kind of author who can bring readers back. Because now that I’m back, I don’t ever want to leave again.

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