Monday, January 13, 2014

In Which Amy is Potentially Controversial

Back to the lists!
So here are my three books I am excited we got into the section.

1. Birthright by Cate Tiernan
I am sort of in love with this author. And even if this plot sounds less crazy and different than her last books I expect to be plenty surprised and impressed by how she handles it.

2. The Hunted (Spirit Animals book 2) by Maggie Stiefvater
A. It's Maggie Stiefvater. And her writing has such a distinctive feel I'm interested to see how she writes a book that fits into a series with other authors.
B. The first book in this series reminded me a little of Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic books.

3. Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson
Kadir Nelson's illustrations make just about any book worth looking at.

I'm not an academic reader and I never have been. This was always a big problem for me in school. Teachers prefer you to read books in certain ways. I understand that and I always understood that they were trying to make me see things that I might not have noticed on my own. I love that. One of the things I miss about not being in school is reading books that I might not have ordinarily chosen.

But I just couldn't read how they wanted me to. I am so much more drawn to how real characters are or if the book manages to capture an emotion that I think will appeal to people. I want a plot that I find well developed or a world that I think is well designed. I think even one of these things done well can make a book.

For a lot of teachers that's not enough. They don't care how you felt about the text and I think that's a mistake because I think you're reacting to something. And sometimes I think it's easier to look at what you react to and see why you react that way. Often that will lead you to a particular theory (even if you don't realize that's what it is) without someone telling you that the book you're reading is a commentary.

I've always been a big proponent of reader response because I don't actually think it's possible to remove yourself from a text so every theory is, in a sense, reader response. You are responding with a theory you are drawn to or a theory you are told to look for, that's not necessarily something that is in the text. I always felt like teachers were forcing a theory on me. I didn't want that, didn't want someone to tell me what lens to view a book through. I should get to decide that. We can talk about it afterward but my opinion shouldn't be discounted because I don't like deconstruction.

I don't mean to bash literary theory, it's useful for discussion, but I don't think that because we don't like it we aren't reading properly or closely enough. I think it just comes down to reading an analyzing text in a different way. They're two different ways to express your thoughts on a book and often you're saying the same thing.

One way might sound more official but that doesn't make the other way wrong. I think it's important to maybe help readers translate their feelings about a book into something technical rather than just telling them that they aren't trying hard enough or aren't looking closely enough.

Just because you might not read the way a teacher wants you to doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. I think people give up on reading after being told something like that. It's so much more important to read what you love and then see why it is you love it.

Now, I'm not saying don't read for school. You'll find a lot of really fantastic books you never thought you would like. Just read it and try to find one thing about it that you are drawn to and then you have something to talk or write about when you need it.

You don't have to read a specific way to read. I'm just glad you're all reading.


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