I Get Rambly But I Can’t Stop Thinking About This!

So if you follow my updates on Goodreads of books I’m reading I noted this quote from Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley and have been thinking about it ever since.

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“Most times when I look at Shadow & Poet’s work I see something different from what the words are telling me. I like that about art, that what you see is sometimes more about who you are than what’s on the wall.”

 

 

 

It resonated with me so much because I feel like that about book sometimes. Books are  intensely personal sometimes and how your heart and soul interacts and wrestles with them is a beautiful thing beyond the surface of the story. Sometimes my heart reacts so powerfully that I nearly can feel it beating right out of my chest and wonder, “Was this book written for ME personally?” Or sometimes I feel like I can UNDERSTAND a character that maybe on the outside seems terrible or hard to relate to, but when I look at myself under the lens,  I see that we aren’t really that different because of  a similar experience. So much of my reading experience (especially in the contemporary realm) is tied to my own life experiences, values and feelings.

This  has especially felt true to me being part of this community. I love seeing how one book can feel so many ways to different people. It’s  amazing to know that other people are reading the same words and the same story is being laid out  but we are experiencing it a thousand different ways. The random thoughts that invade our brains at different moments. The different memories that become unearthed as we read a scene. The character who reminds us of somebody we know. My brain isn’t just solely processing the words I am reading but it’s like this explosion of memories and thoughts and FEELINGS.

I think this is why I have such a hard time saying something is a BAD  book. You read my reviews and you know I honestly tell you the things that did/didn’t work for me and whether or not I  liked a book but it’s hard for me to say definitively (there are exceptions) that X book is a HORRIBLE BOOK THAT NOBODY SHOULD READ because I know that books that others hated have resonated with me.  I know that, in fact, sometimes my reading of a book DOES have more to do with who I am and my experiences than it does than the words on the page.  As a reviewer, I try to tell you enough about why it was such a good/bad experience for me for you to decide if it’s a book that you want to give a chance to. Note: this has nothing to do with how ANYBODY else reviews because this is just how I operate.  I’m just saying that, FOR ME, it’s always hard to say stuff like that because I am SUCH an emotional reader who is very aware that my experiences and values and feelings about things very much affect the way I read something. Obviously, there are books that are more FUN for me and don’t really have this effect and it’s very much whether or not I liked the plot or the writing and yada yada yada...but I know it’s how I read a lot of the time.

I think this is why I feel sad when people get blasted for their opinions on a book..because reading is such a personal thing and is special for each and every reader. You can’t help that you didn’t like a book or feel the way so many other people did. I think maybe sometimes some authors wouldn’t erupt into AUTHOR HULK MOOD over a person simply not liking their book if they thought about it like that — that “sometimes art is more about who you are than what’s on the wall (pages in this case)”.

I love that people interact with art. That it means something. That it can make you feel so deeply one way or another. I’m glad we don’t just simply read the words on the pages but interact and provide our understanding.  If we all read it with the same lens we probably wouldn’t have much to talk about.

So let’s talk: What do you think about the quote I shared? Do you think this is true or not so much? I’m curious to know what you think about that quote in relation to how you read (and review if you are a reviewer) books or if you don’t find that to be the case at all for you?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

Comments

  1. “Books are intensely personal sometimes and how your heart and soul interacts and wrestles with them is a beautiful thing beyond the surface of the story.” is exactly it! How a person reacts to a book is all on them. Sometimes it’s a deep connection and sometimes (say, when you don’t like a book), the connection ins’t deep at all. I personally have accepted that I won’t like every book I read and therefore, it might be a bad book for ME. I find that when I get invested in a book or character, the connection is very strong and very deep. That is the case with Harry Potter. While many don’t like it, I LOVE the books and the world. I can get emotional when talking about the books because a) I grew up with the characters and b) I connected with them. The surface story is about the fight against good and evil but it’s really the ideas buried in the pages, the story, the characters that stays behind.

    Great discussion post Jamie!

  2. I completely agree. There are books that just sweep me away, but they’re definitely not books that I would recommend for everybody. Sometimes there’s just one particular piece of a story that makes it that much more meaningful for you that doesn’t necessarily resonate with everybody else. And the same goes for things you don’t like. But that’s really what I love about the arts; it’s so subjective. One of my favourite things is discussing books BECAUSE of all the different interpretations and reactions people have!

  3. Great post.

    The best selling point of a book is that it elicits an emotional response. That’s why books like “The Fault In Our Stars” or “Saving June” got such wide and postive press – because they directly speak of the issues that readers, particularly people of the YA target audience, have an emotional pull either for a wider collective or on a personal level.

    I appreciate the whole “bad book” thing. The fact that a reader may not get something from a book does not necessarily make a bad book, just that it isn’t the book wasn’t the one for them. (I liken it to the Ollivander’s line in “The Philosopher’s Stone” about the wand choosing the wizard – sometimes a book chooses a reader by their emotional response, or lack of).

  4. Definitely agree! I try to stay positive about books I review, because just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t. I feel like I’ve become more appreciative of books and their authors since blogging. They’ve worked hard and if their book got published, someone must have liked it. Just because the book wasn’t for me doesn’t make it bad; it means it wasn’t for me. Reading is such a personal experience, just like any other art. It’s definitely about who we are and our interpretations. I’ve loved getting to understand this better over the past years and discover who I am through books! Love that quote; I can see why it resonates with you!

  5. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    Reading a book is most definitely a personal thing for me… it’s why I take pride in the reviews I write because I’m opening up & sharing a part of me too.

  6. Such a powerful quote, its so raw and its honest. I think that’s why I love to read so much as you get lost in another world while reading but you bring yourself and all your experiences to that world. And that’s why books make me feel so much, I’m bringing my own actual emotions and memories to that book and adding them in to the mix and so experiencing something totally different to everyone else. Great discussion post, very deep :)
    And I need to read that book!

  7. I think it’s true — that quote. That’s why pretty much all of my reviews are long and rambling and personal – because I’m at the point in life where I can see – yes this aspect makes me feel that way because I find people like that annoying or this aspect hits me that way because of random life event etc. Although, sometimes, books are just bad and I can’t recommend them at all — like Taking Chances ugh. Awful book. But even then, I brought my opinions about college and independence to the table with that book.

  8. That’s beautifully written, Jamie! I agree completely. I always think there’s only one real question when reacting to a book (or movie, or art, anything): what does it mean to me? Forget what you’re supposed to think or ought to think, forget what the expectations are: just react as you, in that moment. If all reviewers approached it like that, and all authors understood that, I’m pretty sure there’d be a lot less hulking out on all sides!

  9. Exactly this. We are all unique. We have all had different life experiences and those things can totally transfer into how we relate to a character or story. I know I’ve been one of those people that didn’t like a popular book. It isn’t usually that it is poorly written, it is just something in the story that bothers me personally. Things like my age, the way I was raised, things I personally experienced or even things I didn’t can come into play an alter the way I see or feel a book. That is the beauty of books.

  10. YES. I love this idea! I love the idea that books belong to their readers. I know I have such emotional responses to some books that go beyond just the text on the page; something grabs me and all the sudden that book becomes MORE than just a book to me. There are books that I think are great and some of the best-written books out there, but it’s just another great story. Then, there are those books that for some reason, resonate deep, deep within me. Maybe it’s because I identify with a character, or I’ve been to a similar situation, but it has all this extra meaning to me. I feel like those books become part of MY unique, personal story.

  11. I’m an emotional reader, too. I want to feel something when I read a book. For me, books fall into three categories. One is those books that are just BAD that no one should read – I rarely stumble on those! Two is the books that, although they’re sometimes REALLY good, I just didn’t connect with them. I still felt like I was reading a book. And three – three is the books that I fall into, get lost in, that break me down and make me chuckle out loud or cry.

    I live for type three books. Little Women, The Fault In Our Stars, Before I Fall, Saving June, Send Me A Sign, Shadow and Bone, Anna and the French Kiss, Tempest – they’re the books I’ll try to convince anyone and everyone to read, because they made me FEEL something. And to me, that’s powerful. I read The Fault In Our Stars a few weeks ago and I’m STILL thinking about the quote: “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” Just because it didn’t last long, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and mean EVERYTHING while it lasted. I can apply that to two or three times in my life, and when I read that quote, something in me broke and from then on, I didn’t stop crying until I finished the book.

    THAT is the experience I remember about books.

    So that quote, yeah, it’s awesome, and while nothing has ever made me REALLY want to read that book, that quote gets to me. It’s true and relevant! I love art, and I’ve always been fascinated by what people SEE in it – two people can look at the same painting and get two very different things out of it, and I think that quote really makes a very valid point about art.

    Also, about people having opinions, YES. I’m the same way, Jamie. Sometimes I didn’t care for a book that everyone else loves, and it’s because I just didn’t have that CONNECTION with it. (sometimes it’s just because it was really bad!) I think there is room for ALL kinds of opinions in our amazing community, and no one should be made to feel bad for not loving a book, or for loving one that others hated.

    Okay, this ends the long rambly comment that probably made no sense! lol

  12. Everything you wrote is seriously me. That’s why, while I love sharing my thoughts on books, it’s also very difficult. One of the main things I look for in reading is a personal connection. It’s a way for me to see how someone else dealt with a problem or to be able to feel less alone because I relate to a character in some way. Because of this, my reading of a book is a very unique experience and the reasons I may really connect to a book may also be the same reasons someone else hates it. That makes it scary to share my thoughts and that’s why I always try to stay away from labeling a book as bad. There have been some books that I really love that other people call bad books which doesn’t always feel the greatest. I’m like you and while I do point out what I don’t like, they are my opinions and nothing more. I don’t want to call something bad because there are people out there that will enjoy it.

  13. I love this quote, and I love your thoughts associated with it. One of the most amazing things about reading is that millions of people can read the same book. But we all get a little something (or a lot something) different out of it, because we are all different. I especially like what you said about it being unfair to judge a person’s reaction to a book they’ve read. Obviously it’s important to be respectful even when you don’t like a book, but not everyone is going to enjoy every book…and that should be okay. It makes me so sad when bloggers are bashed for honest opinions that are not positive. That is one reason why it took me so long to start a blog for myself, because I was afraid of backlash when I didn’t like a book. Thankfully, my experience has been positive so far, and everyone I’ve interacted with has been supportive. But I feel like my reviews are longer when they’re negative, because I’m so careful about explaining why I feel a certain way – so no one thinks I’m being mean on purpose. As objective as someone tries to be when reviewing a book, there will always be someone who sees it differently. It IS a personal experience, and I think we should embrace and celebrate that aspect of blogging.

    I am consistently impressed with your thoughtful discussion posts. Thank you.

  14. I love this post and I agree with every word. I often wonder how authors would feel about this, especially those behind the classics that are dissected in English classes across the nation. It often seems as though we as students are being told what a certain object symbolizes when really we should be interpreting that for ourselves and possibly the writer had no intention of even making the object symbolic; someone just decided it was and then passed it on.
    When it comes to review writing and recommending, I will never ever ever EVER tell someone not to read a book, even if I disliked it more than anything else I have ever read. It is true that no two people read the exact same story because our minds take it in through different methods, adding our own personal experiences and thoughts, and that only makes for better discussions. If everyone had the exact same opinion, there would be no point to reviewing and we would be out of a hobby!

  15. This is such a lovely, thoughtful post Jamie, and you expressed your feelings about it so well. I absolutely agree with the quote you pulled from Graffiti Moon (which is a wonderful book, is it not?)!

    Even though we’re very social media savvy and share/discuss books almost constantly with other people, there’s still something personal in the very experience of reading a book. Your own life, your own experiences and thoughts and beliefs and loves and hates and so on and so forth will influence how you feel or your reaction to a book. I like how these things transform an author’s words and brings life to them for each reader… in a DIFFERENT way. I think it would be supremely uninteresting if we all just felt the same exact way about books; this way leaves room for more dialogue and lots of fun discussion!

  16. Beautifully written, and I can’t agree more. I actually wrote a post about this too, how books belong to their readers. This is why, in my review of Just One Day, I wrote that I wasn’t sure if other people would love it as much as I did because it felt like such a personal story to me. I could relate to Alison so well and I just couldn’t predict if anyone would love it like I did.

    I think it’s a wonderful thing that books are so tied to our own lives. Yes, it’s what makes it difficult to share a love for books with people, even the ones who share our taste in books, but I still think of it as a good thing. Like you, this doesn’t happen to me with every book, but with a lot of them – yes. Those are also the ones that tend to stick with me the longest (like Just One Day and Looking for Alaska). But this makes me question if having a rating system for my reviews is the right thing, since I can’t say a book is good or bad for just everyone, and it feels wrong to do so.

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  1. […] it just a case of it wasn’t my thing? Where there glaring problems I saw? Did my own values and experiences influence it and make me see it differently? But there’s one thing I always come back to and that’s […]

  2. […] I Get Rambly but I Can’t Stop Thinking About This! @ The Perpetual Page-Turner […]

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