Five Ways You’ve Been Reading the Right Way Your Entire Life- How Many Do You Do?

I don’t know about you but for some reason the titles that accuse me of doing something wrong my entire life really bug me. I mean, who cares how I eat my grapefruit? Who cares how I cut a kiwi? It’s been working for me up to this point in time, so why is it wrong? Perhaps their way is better, but that still doesn’t make my way wrong. Anyhow, rant over. But, because I hate those articles so much, I decided to turn the tables and write a “What You’re Doing Right” article.
I may be a writer, but most writers, or at least those who are good, are also avid readers. I’ve definitely read my fair share of books, and I have noticed there are a few things that happen when I am really enjoying a novel. Here is how I tell if I am really getting the reading experience I am craving.I believe these apply to many readers. See how many apply to you.

Reading

 

1. You keep telling yourself, “Just one more Chapter before I… (Insert reason to stop).”
If a book is engaging, you want to keep going. It is human nature. Suspense is a love/hate relationship. We love wondering what is going to happen next, but we don’t want to have to wonder forever. A good book will leave enough of a question at the end of a chapter that you will want answers, and you have to keep going. The rational that you will quit after one more is kind of like keeping yourself from eating the entire box of chocolates in a day. It just doesn’t work. No matter how many times you tell yourself this is the last chapter, there is always another one until that moment when your eyes hit the last period on the last page, and you heave that bittersweet sigh because there is no more. But of course, that is at about 4:00 am because the entire night you have always had to have “one more.”
2. You fall in love with the characters.
The storyline in a book is way important, but for me, unless I love the characters, I don’t care. After all, if you don’t really like the characters, why should you care what happens to them? When I let myself fall in love with the characters, I am much more engaged in the story. It’s a risk. You take the chance of having your heart broken. After all, there is always that chance your favorite character might not make it. They might die. That has happened to me far too often. In fact, there was a period of time where I feared to choose a favorite character because inevitably they would be the one that bit the dust (Rest in peace, Cedric). However, you keep on falling in love with the characters because you know that, as Alfred Lord Tennyson put it, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” You simply must fall in love with the characters.
3. You keep wanting to scream advice to the characters.
Reading a book for some is like watching a sports game for others. Somehow we always know better than those playing out the plot. It’s obvious to us that Frodo shouldn’t put the ring on, and oh, how we wish we could tell him so. The agony of having to watch our beloved characters make mistakes is seriously excruciating. I mean, how much trouble could have been averted if we could only have told Edmund that the Queen in the sleigh was really the White Witch? We are the ultimate backseat drivers as we read books. It’s probably lucky the characters can’t hear us, or we would drive them nuts. And then, we have to remind ourselves, there really would be no story if the characters listened to us. But still, that doesn’t really make it easier.
4. You love to hate the bad guys.
As evil as they may be, the villain holds a place in your heart— the place of deepest loathing. The worse the bad guy, the more you loathe them. Javert in Les Misérables is bad enough, but nobody can beat Thénardier for pure loathability. As much as I love Sir Percy in The Scarlet Pimpernel, I have almost as much fun filling my soul with indignation over the antics of Chauvelin. The more I dislike a character, the more fun it is to see them trampled by the hero. You know you’re reading a book right when you have to remind yourself to unclench your fists after reading about the villain.
5. When a major plot twist occurs, you feel an uncontrollable urge to discuss it with somebody.
Your beloved hero just had the rug yanked out from under his feet. Somebody important died. You just discovered that person you thought was a good guy turned out to be more loathsome than the primary antagonist. Now you simply must have somebody to talk about it with! The worst part is, none of your friends have read that part yet. Agony. There is no other way to describe it. You are bursting to shout it out at the world, yet you have nobody to keep you company as you spin through the maelstrom of shock and indignation. You’re forced to come up with subtle hints you can drop to get somebody, anybody, to hurry and catch up with you so you have somebody to discuss this major life event with. And, oh, the relief when you finally get to ask, “So, what did you think when…?” Then, of course, you spend hours discussing your reactions and hypothesizing the potential implications.

If I have experienced all five of these things in reading a book, it is almost guaranteed I enjoyed that book. The pain of having to put it down and step back out into the real world is all the more excruciating. One might argue that the author bears the responsibility of creating a work that allows the reader to do all these things almost effortlessly, and that is partially true. However, I have read several books touted to be among the greatest ever written where I experienced none of these things while others I know had the exact opposite experience. However, I do hope that Gateway to Aviandria makes it easy for whoever reads it to enjoy these things. If these five things occur while you are absorbing the pages, my goal is accomplished.

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