Recently, Barry and I went to the beach for the first time this season. (Mentally insert a muppet flail of joy and an image of me digging my toes into the sand.)
As two writers (which automatically makes us readers) do, after spending time picking up rocks and driftwood, watching the trucks haul in new sand and smooth it out, we pulled out our books of the moment.
Barry currently has a pile to read for school, so he’s reading literary fiction. I adore literary fiction, obviously, but I brought along what I will call a “beach read.”
This isn’t the post to talk about how the term “beach read” could be considered a pejorative, and very possibly misogynistic. Forgive me but I need this term for the moment to differentiate between “fun, easy reading” and not so much.
So I was reading this novel which shall remain nameless because, sadly, it turned out grim and not at all the beach read I thought it, when Barry asked if he could read me a sentence.
I listened, gave my “professional” opinion on the sentence’s construction and then returned to reading the novel that was, at the very least, beginning to challenge if not delight me because the author went from third person omniscient to first plural. I began to suspect that either I was in the hands of an unskillful writer, or a daring, perhaps literary, one, even if I wasn’t digging the plot. (Does anyone say “digging” anymore?)
Regardless, while I counted the five people referenced in the group that became one voice in this novel, and I could not tell who was talking if it wasn’t collective and hoped all would become clear, Hubby would periodically pull me from my musings with a purple prose passage to flinch at from the book he was reading. He knows I am so not a fan of flowery writing and I love the opportunity to complain privately about a book I will not criticize publicly. Because writing is not easy and tastes vary and I’m not going to be the one to publicly trash another writer without a compelling reason I can’t imagine at this time. (I do write book reviews, but critiquing is not criticizing. We writers have to stick together.)
But back at the beach, reading gave way to lunch eating, to wave watching, to chatting. To dreaming aloud. Let me say, these things pair well with discussing writing.
The reader in me, so long a solitary soul, sometimes forgets what a luxury it is to have someone to discuss books with. It still seems foreign to be able to share the written word, to accept that it CAN be shared, even that my husband wants to talk about books with me. What a gift.
While Barry and I haven’t recently been able to read the same books because of his schooling and, let’s face it, varied interests at times, even reading and sharing short passages with one another is invigorating.
Never take for granted your version of beach reading — whether it’s with a loved one or a book club. If you don’t have it, it is worthwhile to create it. There are Facebook groups and online forums for just about any reading tastes. All it takes is a little exploring.
While the beauty of reading is that it is perfectly lovely as a world all its own and doesn’t require others to enjoy it, sharing literature only expands it. I find I often appreciate books more after I discuss them, or I understand them more fully. Well, what talking about books does for readers and writers deserves its own post, and I’m sure that will come along soon enough.
Do you find that talking about what you’re reading opens the book further for you?
As always, feel free to comment below, or subscribe. We’re here for you.
Writing All the Things,