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Booking Through Stories

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If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next? Or, um, is it just me?

I read for the story but not for always because someone authors, who are very good prose stylists, are just known for the craft of writing and I known I’m not in for much of a story, for example, Henry James. For sheer purpose of entertainment and comfort, I seek out the literary world and the characters that inhabit in it. I do have to concede that the story, despite the dreadful writing full of cliches and empty adverbs, is what drives people to read The Da Vinci Code, of which every chapter leaves you off with a cliffhanger. The Pillar of the Earth is another book that springs to mind as far as keeping me engrossed. It’s a more laudable literary fare of course. The Name of the Rose is another intriguing read. It’s a tale of a master’s journey in unraveling a complicated knot at a sacred institution. Under the veneer of scholastic and immaculate surface is prurient desire for knowledge, covet for power, and scruple for sin against chastity. Interesting how I have named three historical fiction/thriller with a hint of religion. The bust of the gold-digger emigre from Ukraine in A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and the observant canine in The Art of Racing in the Rain also cast the spell. These are the kind of books that I usually set aside for weekend road-trip or vacation. They make long-haul flights more endurable and mitigate travel hassle. Stories encompass the whole of human experience and history. To hear stories is to be familiar with distant and unfamiliar affairs over geographical barrier and time. Regardless of how they are told, in plain words or metaphors, they can breathe new meaning to our understanding and perception.

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22 Responses

  1. I’m with you on that. That’s how I read The Pillars of the Earth, too, as well as Angels and Demons and Agatha Christie.

  2. Okay, this post really makes me what to read through my ARC pile in a hurry. I have both The Pillars of the Earth and The Name of the Rose waiting patiently on my bookshelf. They need my attention. I will learn to say no to ARCs. I will learn to say no. 😉

  3. Interesting response and gives me leads to a new book as I hadn’t heard about The Art of Racing in the Rain my response>

  4. I read to be entertained, and I like a good story line.

  5. I gave up on the Da Vinci Code. I guess the story was good, but I found the rest of it to be pretty bad.

  6. Oh, I agree. A good story can make or break a novel. I think Dan Brown is an excellent storyteller, but an average writer, at best.

  7. Wow there are some good books mentioned here. I always wanted to read ‘Pillars of the Earth’. But I guess it’s very huge. Thats what is putting me off.

  8. Great answer! I’ve read The Da Vinci Code and thought it was OK. I’ve been wanting to read Pillars of the Earth but just seeing the thickness of it is real intimidating.

  9. Damn it! I keep meaning to read “A Short History of Tractors in Ukraine”! It’s one of those books I keep saying I want to read, but somehow never makes it into my library.

    I read both “Angels & Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code”. The first, I read purely for the story and, I gotta say, I did enjoy it. The second, I read purely to see what all the hoopla was all about. I found the story just as bad as the writing, but you know, to each his own.

    I’m thinking I need to give “Pillars of the Earth” a second look. Hmm…

  10. I finally caved and read The Da Vinci Code to see what all the hype was all about & what a waste of trees imho. Couldn’t for the life of me work out why it was such a big hit but then again, I don’t think there’s ever been one single book that has been well received by everyone who’s ever read it, or has there?

  11. I think I would really like Pillars of the Earth, though I’ve not yet gotten around to buying a copy. I tend to read lots of plot driven stories, but I also like a really well written book with good characterization. Sometimes those books where not much happens but you really get to know a character are just as good (sometimes even better) as the fast paced ones.

  12. Jordan:
    I like Angels & Demons better than Da Vinci Code although the latter got all the hype. Now I’m looking forward to reading the sequel to The Pillar of Earth. Another chunkster!

  13. Literate Housewife:
    Most of my ARCs end up at someone else’s houses. I highly recommend The Name of the Rose, although I hate to say that this is Eco’s “one read wonder.” The novel takes place at an abbey where a priest is to unveil the scandal.

  14. John:
    You have the most wonderful and creative response!
    The Art of Racing in the Rain is a quick read. The canine-narrator makes me wonder what my lab sees in me!

  15. Sally:
    Unless I’m in a mood for Kafka or Camus, a good story line will always do for me! 🙂

  16. CB James:
    Well, I was hooked so I read to the very end, almost all in one sitting! Then I got rid of it immediately!

  17. Lesley:
    Dan Brown also reminds me of James Patterson, who is an adroit storyteller but the writing is so-so. What I also find interesting about Patterson is that all the books, especially the hardbacks, have very large prints that you can actually be done with a book in a few hours!

  18. Violet:
    I felt the same way before I started. The first 25 pages or so are a bit slow but after that it’s a page-turner! You won’t even realize how much headway you’ve made. Give it a try! 🙂

  19. Melody:
    Like I said to Violet, it’s worth the effort. Follett has written a very engrossing story here. 🙂

  20. J.S. Peyton:
    A Short History of Tractors in Ukraine is a literary flair. It’s very well-written, full of details and nuances of the family, but also it’s extremely funny. I laugh out loud on a few occasions. 🙂

  21. r:
    I think Dan Brown gas the knack for keeping the readers hooked while moving the story in a very fast pace. The writing is at best mediocre but the whole Mona Lisa thing is a gimmick.

  22. Danielle:
    Pillar of Earth (if I remember correctly) spans over 50 years so it’s packed with many characters of which several persist through and are very well-developed. The plot centers around building a cathedral and how the construction, which is led by a very devoted priest, is met with hassle, insidious scheme and attack.

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