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.
“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?