This is just a reminder to all the readers out there who will be picking up novels this summer for pleasure reading or even in some cases, to learning something knew. There really needs to be an introductory course to reading a novel. The natural inclination here is to say reading a novel does not need instructions. Open a book, read the page, turn the page and close book when there are no more pages or until one is tired. Easy right? Contrary to popular belief, there is much more involved here. If a reader wants to get more bang for their buck, take these tips from a librarian. You'll never look at a novel the same way again.
TIP number one: Listen to the Author's Voice.
The author is granting to the reader an invitation to enter their world but it does not mean their point of view is ignored except for the parts the readers likes. Rather it is an opportunity to listen to a viewpoint that may or may not agree with your own opinions. In other words an open book is equivalent to an open mind. So shut up and read. Let the author have their say without putting a spin on it that does not exist. An example would be to read The Hunger Games and declare it a nod to conservative principals. No, that isn't quite right. All one has to do is look at Ms. Collins biography to notice that her political beliefs are more liberal then conservative. Is that bad? No, it's just her beliefs, which means that reading the book from that point of view will provide a better understanding of what the author wants to convey.
TIP number two: The Reader Should Never Put On The Character's Shoes.
There have been many well intentioned book discussion leader who ask the classic question "What would you do if this happened to you?" Frankly, human beings are unpredictable. One could guess what they would do but there's no certainty. The questions that reader should ask themselves are, "Did the actions fit the character's words? Did the action of the character make the reader want to say "Bravo" or "You stink"?
TIP number three: No Novel is a Waste of Time
Yes there have been times that a book is so disappointing that the reader really wants to write an anti-fan letter to the author. That's okay. Don't think of it as a waste of time. Think of it as a lesson in finding out what makes a good author versus a bad one. Next time, the book you pick for yourself will be better based on past choices. Sort of like dating.
TIP number four: Take Your Time - Reading is Not a Marathon
It is a wonder that readers who go through books quickly ever retain half of what they read. Granted it should take a rear a year to finish a book but why rush the process? Enjoy the visit with the characters, stop and smell the roses with them too. Reading, especially when done for pleasure, is meant to be something to savored. Every sentence, every word and punctuation. Why deny the opportunity to let it all soak in? Quite frankly, it's okay to read the book a second time around too. Life is too short not to indulge in simple pleasures.
These are just a few tips that bring out the best from the stories and readers. There is an art to be being a reader. A talent that has to be honed just like any other skill. Don't be afraid to hone the skill and don't close your mind. In order to incorporate the skills a reader should have an open mind. Why? It means they are listening, learning and loving the total experience of the novel.