Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Window Or A Mirror

If you read fiction (and please don't tell me if you don't because... I'm not sure we can be friends) why do you read it? What do you want out of the story when you open that new book?

I was thinking about this the other day as I ran. (And please understand when I say "the other day" that is a generalization because it has lo been many days since I have run, thanks to all the rain. I hear confession is good for the soul. Hopefully by the time you read this I will have been to that new gym.)

Back to "the other day" when I was running. And thinking. I was thinking about some of the comments I've gotten on my new novel The Wishing Tree. And how some people love my "lighter" books, books that are more romantic and dreamy. And some really like the ones where I dig in and really examine issues.

And I thought about how some people want a window when they read-- a way of looking at the world beyond. And some want a mirror-- they want to see themselves and the people they love, maybe in a new way or in a way that helps them think differently. There really does seem to be a dividing line among readers as far as what they look for in stories. The window people would tell you they just wanted to be entertained and transported. The mirror people would tell you they want to learn something about the human experience; they want to be challenged

And as I ran (if memory serves), I thought about how the best writing is the kind that is both window and mirror. The kind that shows you a world beyond but also makes you look inside yourself. Maybe that's what all writers should be aiming for. Maybe it's the ones who manage it who become the bestsellers, meeting both types of readers right where they are, enticing them with one, but surprising them with the other. And showing them the value in both.

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Pam said...

I do look at fiction books as a window to be entertained and transported to somewhere else. Life as a mama and wife and everything else I'm supposed to be to everyone all.the.time can leave me wanting an escape. That's what reading fiction is for me, an escape. An escape into another world, another's life without having to solve, fix, or think about anything.

However, I don't object to a book that requires me to see myself in a mirror, to reflect and be challenged. I think there's a time and a place for both. And perhaps you're right, the best books just might be the ones that incorporate the window and the mirror.

Good thoughts today, Marybeth. I've also found running is good for things like that : )

Danielle M. said...

I think that I see books as both. It is nice to, like Pam said, be entertained and taken somewhere else. Reading books that are not like my life open my eyes to new things, new authors, new types of books.

But I also enjoy books that are mirrors as well, that help you see inside yourself. In your book, "She Makes it Look Easy," I enjoyed seeing the personalities of both Ariel and Justine, seeing how we were similar and different. Sometimes books cause you to look inside yourself, see if there is something you can improve on or change. Sometimes you see that neither way of life is perfect, but a happy balance in the middle somewhere. Reading "The Wishing Tree," it was very interesting to see someone go back and confront their past, both to try to make amends, but also to rekindle what was or wasn't there. I often think of returning to my hometown someday, and wonder how people have changed, would they accept how I've changed. You can't make the past the present, but you can help to make the present and future better.

Either way, though, I love your books! Please keep them coming!!

Tammi T. said...

I do love fiction and read it almost exclusively. As to weather I prefer window or mirror books, it depends on my mood. I like both and there are times when I need one over the other; however, I do like your idea that a good book is one that is combination of both window and mirror.