In preparation for 2012, I’ve transferred all my passwords scribbled on two disintegrating pieces of paper onto a Rolodex. I’ve removed from the top of my scanner the piles of often needed reference books and printed online advice. With a present of a MP3 player, I’ve joined the ranks of the miniature digital world. How can a gadget so small hold so much downloaded music that travels weightlessly on my person from computer to bathroom and to mailbox?
Most of all, in the upcoming year, I look forward to attending two local book discussion groups, one for mysteries and one for non-genre books. Several of the readers in the mystery group also belong to the other group, seemingly unaware of less prestige given to genre writers. In fact, the readers don’t seem interested in writers’ egos and problems. The readers’ great love is the stories themselves. Readers are willing to attend writer presentations free of charge. However they seem no more interested in long and torturous biographies for writers than for creators of anything else they purchase.
Gone by Mo Hayder deals with the kidnapping of children. Several American editors and publishers refuse to consider this topic. However kidnapping exists in the US and readers in the discussion group identified with anguished parents.
In the non-genre book group, we read Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson and readers expressed the opinion that the themes were safe because they happened outside America. Themes such as the clash between the Pakistani Muslim culture and British culture could be examined without reservations.
Readers in both groups are intelligent and knowledgeable readers and the librarians that lead the groups understand books. They all display a love of the written word that I’d guess most writers want to engage. Also, as readers, they want the writer to present them with subject matter and characters that make them think as well as entertain them. In Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, readers enjoyed the romance between a middle-aged couple from vastly different and opposing backgrounds. Readers like being party to the thoughts, feelings and observations of fictional characters no matter how flawed. Several readers expressed pleasure at well-written sentences and evocative images.
With the internet, intellectual information travels fast. People in rural areas are as well-informed as city dwellers. Perhaps readers in rural areas have fewer distractions and curling up with a good book seems very attractive when snow piles up outside and it’s a long, dangerous drive to the nearest theater or restaurant.
The next book we’ll discuss is Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman. Some discussion group members would prefer less violent mysteries because their workplace presents them with enough hassles without seeking out fictional wake-up situations.
I enjoy being part of both discussion groups with members who clearly love reading and don’t just skin through what they read. As a writer, I welcome the opinions of readers.