Earlier I would just read: for pleasure, entertainment, because the author was my favourite, or, because the story appealed to me. But nowadays I read like someone possessed. A confession has to be made; it takes me longer to read a book now, than earlier. One reason is because of time constraints, but the other reason, the main reason is because I want to really enjoy the book, let the story unfurl in my mind like a cat stretching its supple body.
After reading a book, I mull over it. What about the book appealed to me a lot? How did the author introduce the characters? Was justice done to the side or peripheral characters? Was the tension tight? What about the conflict? Did it completely absorb me in its grip? Did I get bored at any point? If yes, why? Was it because of flat and boring descriptions? Too much back story. How about the dialogue? Did it take the story forward? Was it crucial to the scene? Did it sound authentic? What about the setting? Was it original? Was the style racy?
If a paragraph appeals to me, I read it and reread it. It’s as though I want to memorize it. Several times I close the book for a second or two, to visualize the scenes.
After reading the book, I write down my thoughts on a piece of paper, as though I am doing a private review of the book, or a break down of the book for the purpose of learning the craft of writing in detail. This exercise does take some time, but its well worth the effort. I see the book not just from a reader's perspective, but also a writer’s viewpoint. I think about what I liked about the book and what I didn’t like. At which point did I stop believing in the characters? Which trait in the character made me fall in love with him or her? Could what I like be enhanced and the bits I didn’t like be changed for the better? This exercise in particular is really effective, it gives the brain cells and writing muscles a good workout.
If a book is extremely successful, it’s easy to understand why? And if it isn’t, again the reasons for it not scoring with the readers become clear. It makes me aware of the elements in my story: which elements would appeal to the readers and which would bore them. It also familiarizes me with the current market trend. What kind of books appeal to the readers, and which books though published are not attracting the readers.
What about you all? Do you read books solely for pleasure, or, do you read them from a writer’s perspective? Please share with us.