Monday, February 1, 2016

My Reading Profile

Yeah, yeah, I know that Goodreads is the bigger social media networking site for readers, but do you ever wonder what a social media site that matched you to books based off your own “reading profile” would look like? And I don’t mean something that’s community run or a book subscription kind of service like Netflix. I mean flat out like a dating site for books—maybe incorporate some of GR’s “recommendations” based off what you’ve already read (but hey, maybe that’s a part of your reading profile?).

Because I’m weird, I think of things like this sometimes, and I wonder what sort of books I’d get matched with? And what categories there’d be and what sort of “tags” would matter most in your descriptions for whatever algorithm matched you to books, and maybe I’m being silly BUT WHATEVER GO WITH IT. Here’s what I imagine my reading profile to look like:

CHARACTERS: I like character-driven stories most, so I like knowing the ins and outs of characters—seeing them in a variety of situations because the plot is that expansive is the best. I don’t think that we need to know every detail of a character, but I like being able to have at least a couple of details to hold onto (e.g. Maggie Stiefvater’s characters -> Adam’s faded coca-cola t-shirt, dusty hair, delicate fingers; Blue’s fingerless gloves, quirky outfits, and choppy hair). If they’re stock characters, let them be like those in Harry Potter (“know it all,” “Chosen One,” “sidekick”), where there’s enough action – and they are allowed to grow in the plots/their character arcs – to make them feel unique to the story. Example from favorites of great characters: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

WRITING: My favorite kind of writing is atmospheric. I love metaphors. I love feeling like I’ve been brought into the world, the setting made real for me. I love symbolic images and cyclical scenes (for that example, The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski; first chapter, Kestrel’s dinner with that person and the sugar spoon). I like practical, textured writing too (e.g. Kristin Cashore).

PLOTS: Writing, characters, world, and themes/story/big idea all come before “plot” for me. Now obviously all of those factor into plots, but there’s a reason why I’m not a huge fan of action or horror movies – if it feels like the story or characters or world isn’t adding anything new, I don’t care. Plots can be slow, literary—anything, really, but things must happen. I like when synopses are much vaguer about what happens in the plot; I’ve read a couple of books where the synopsis reveals too much. 100 pages into a story, and I’ve still not come across an event that I didn’t already know was going to happen? Example from favorites of great plotting: The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner.

WORLDS: No limits! The general writing rule re: authors having more to say about their world than is actually mentioned in each book shows. Kat Kennedy at Cuddlebuggery mentioned the idea of the Cultural Iceberg when it comes to world-building, and I think that’s true too. So the stories that get into the attitudes and values of the people might feel “deeper” in that world than the stories that only describe the foods and languages of a place.

PACING: This matters much less to me. I don’t mind if the pacing is slow or fast. I think my problem has more to do with the unevenly paced books where there’s action and suddenly the characters are safe and then hey, action again. That’s jarring. Slow—okay, I’ll luxuriate. Fast—okay, I’ll hold my breath. Uneven—what is going on?

“DARKNESS:” No story is too dark! Though please no dark elements just for shock value!

BURKE BAIT (AKA THEMES I LOVE): As a friend recently told me, I don’t think that I’ll ever get over the theme of “hey, look, you’ve been born to this category of people who are told that in some way or form that they do not meet society’s standards, but they RISE up to succeed anyway. What you’re born as doesn’t predict who you’ll become.” Overcoming cultural expectations! There will never be enough books that EMPOWER you to do MORE. This is going to sound stupid, but I also love books that get into what it means to be human.

# BOOKS READ EACH YEAR: Somewhere between 75-150, occasionally more

READING “QUIRKS”: I’ve talked about these before. I’m a kinda sorta book hoarder. I almost never use bookmarks. I dog-ear a lot of passages. I can read around a lot of noise. I’m a mood reader. I’m an unorganized reader. I’m an equal opportunity book lender. I stay up all night to read books and I don’t care what my books look like – whether they’ve got crinkled, messed up spines or stains.

GENRES: Fantasy! Contemporary! Magical realism! Speculative Fiction! Mystery! Suspense! Historical! Romance!

MOTTO: I’m stealing this one from Ameriie at Books Beauty Ameriie. She always says that STORY IS KING. However you choose to tell your Story – whether through the characters or a dystopian rebellion – that is the most important element that needs to come through. C.S. Lewis wrote an essay about the importance of Story – I’m forgetting the name, but it’s out there.

FAVORITE BOOKS: All of the Harry Potter Books (ooooh maybe we’d get to “rank” books within a series based on how we’ve rated them; for me, it’s HP7 > HP6 > HP4 > HP 3=HP5 > HP2 > HP1), all of Kristin Cashore’s books (Fire > Bitterblue > Graceling), The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner (The King of Attolia > The Queen of Attolia > A Conspiracy of Kings > The Thief), The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Boys > The Dream Thieves = Blue Lily, Lily Blue), The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner’s Crime > The Winner’s Curse), The Odyssey by Homer, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Emma by Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and more.

Man, I’d totally have the reading profile that no one would ever read in full. They’d skim it, fixate on one thing – hey, baby, I’m a book that’s a little dark, you want some? *sigh* What would your reading profiles look like?

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