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All other thing being equal, would you rather read a book that’s hard/challenging/rewarding or light/enjoyable/easy?

I prefer literary fiction over supermarket novels that tell a linear, straight-forward story with no stylistic aesthetics. Novels with beautiful language have greater appeal. Although literary fiction can also be conventional in terms of narrative structure, its unique prose style, technical skill, unusual characterizations, and satiric wit have earned a favor in me. A book doesn’t have to concern with schematic moral and philosophical oppositions, but the writing should be clear. On top of an unadorned style, a good novelist should possess a shrewd understanding of human nature. Often time the extraordinary length and daunting size of a book can be misleading in terms of difficulty. Some epic novels can be fairly straight-forward and clear in the themes they present.

5 Responses

  1. For me I would have to say it depends on my mood or what else is going on in my life. Most of the time I prefer a challenge and would rather read something meaningful that requires a little more effort on my part. On the other hand, if I am in them iddle of a big court trial at work or for example, suffering from pregnancy brain like I am at the moment, then something a little easier is going to be much more suitable. Variety is the spice of life or so they say.

  2. I think sometimes a mix is nice. Sometimes I am up for something more challenging and sometimes I want something lighter..and I think that is fine.

  3. I definitely agree on the difference between difficulty and length.

  4. Yeah, I’m not in love with hard = rewarding association in the original question. There are plenty of easy-to-read novels that are rewarding and brimming with style.

  5. Sort of like asking whether one prefers a healthy, filling, nurishing meal or junk food. There is a time and a place for each; but preferably more of the former rather than of the latter. At the mid-point of my life, I have read my fair share of straight forward chick lit, the latest thriller and I want to read something that I perhaps missed in my misspent youth. More and more I go to the classics I never read. However, I do love when I find a first time author who has an interesting new voice and I am still a fan of Mr. Grisham.

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