Yesterday I saw an article a friend of mine was reading called “Run Fast! Women to Avoid Dating” by Laura Snyder. It was a great article and inspired me to think about other types of people to avoid and somehow it got me thinking about readers. Yes, I’m a writer, but I’m a reader first: A voracious one.
I devour the classics, literary and commercial fiction or hybrids of both, biographies, memoirs, business books, references, how-to manuals etc…I have stacks of book everywhere (I need more bookshelves) and I like interacting with other readers to discuss my favorite pastime. I can spot a fellow reader like an addict can spot another junkie. This is my realm and I know it well. However, I’ve discovered that there are some readers who are best kept at a distance (preferably with garlic and holy water). So that you won’t suffer from them, here are a few I’ve identified—get close to them at your own risk.
This is the reader who feels that only her taste is the right taste. That every book should meet her standards (and they are high and very strict) or be trashed, slashed or burned. And she has created a list of proper reading etiquette that she feels every reader should subscribe to. Some of her rules are that a book should be cupped and not handled, no one should use a forefinger to skim a page and a bookmark is the only way to save a page—breaking the spine, dog-earing a page or using a sticky note are obscene. While I have my own ways of handling a book, I don’t have a royal decree that I believe others should follow. This reader does.
Think you know the theme of a book? You’re wrong! But that’s no surprise. This next reader believes that all other readers are wrong. He knows every aspect of the novel from the symbolism, the inspiration, the subtext right down to the copyright date and will tell you so. And you will soon discover that you must agree with all his assertions. A difference of opinion is considered heresy.
This reader can’t keep a secret. She’ll tell you who the murderer is, the secret the heroine is keeping, and the one thing you’ve spent the last 300 pages trying to find out. This reader can never give you a brief summary of a book (like a good natured father who will lecture you on why you should be punished for taking cookies from the cookie jar when all you want is a good spanking to escape the boring torture). No, this type of reader reveals every plot point and twist and will suck the reading pleasure of discovery from future readers.
To this reader, fiction, as we know it, is going to hell. Nothing good has been written since (fill in the blank) and it’s only getting worse. She predicts that soon we’ll have nothing but crap to read and our brains will turn to mush and our civilization will disappear. Fahrenheit 451 has nothing on her imaginings. Burning books? No, there will be no books to burn because we’ll all be too desensitized by the present rubbish that is available to us and we won’t know the difference. For the doomsayer, technology like the Kindle, Nooks and Vooks will eradicate the need for storytellers and bookstores, writers, paper, pens and all other tangibles will end up in museums as distant memories.
This reader makes books disappear. What do I mean? Loan a book to this reader and you will never see that book again. Poof! It’s gone. If you ask where the book is, he will tell you that he doesn’t have it, or that it’s ‘somewhere’ but he hasn’t had a chance to read it yet. Or he has read it and can’t find it. The magician will always find an excuse, but one thing is certain–your book is gone forever.
So, do you have a reader type you avoid? I will give away a signed copy of my latest release WORDS OF SEDUCTION to a random commenter.