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Goodreads, or what have I gotten myself into

I'm probably the last(ish) person who likes reading and joined the reading social network known as Goodreads. I knew about it for a while, but it was only when Zee told me that I decided to join. (Zee, you'll always be a bad influence.)

I like to read, but I haven't had many chances of actually reading. Indeed, I've read fewer novels in my life than some people read in a year (approximately 150). I've read lots of technical material instead, and I've been involved in some activities that demanded almost if not all of my time. (A story for another time... if ever.)

It doesn't bother me to have read less than. What bothers me is that I have little bookish culture. I barely know of good stories. I've barely read stories in the genre I like to write (horror and paranormal.) And if you want to write, if you ever consider it... what's the first advice you get?

Read. Read as much as you can. Read all you can in the genre you're interested in, and then, in other genres to acquire a wide picture of styles, tropes, clich├ęs. Maybe even some vocabulary.

I could actually feel this when I tried to write anything longer than a blog post. Writing a novel is not an easy feat, and the less you've read, the more difficult it gets to connect the dots. To move from A to B, where A and B are random situations that you've imagined and then don't know how to join in a manner that makes sense.

It is true that you only learn to write by... you guessed that right, writing. It is also true that reading will help you, for reasons like the ones I've listed before.

That's how I set myself what I hoped would be an easy target for 2020: Read 20 books. Novels, preferably. I registered into Goodreads and started reviewing the books I read, even though I have, how many... five people following me? (One of them is Zee. At least until now.)

June has only started and I've already read 65 books. At this rate, I will finish the year by having read as much as my whole past life. 2020 sucks for other reasons (not just the pandemic), but it is doing great in the reading department. I'm keeping a reading journal where I record a summary of the story, what I think of each book, what rating I'm giving to it and if I consider it good enough to be a favorite of the month (for now), or not. I'm sure I will need it at the end of the year if only to remember all that I've read.

I'm open to genres that I would normally not read (give me some romance and you'll have me rooting for the one taking the most stupid decisions.) I'm open to reading in English. Indeed, English is the winning language this year so far. I would use words like aghast, waver and haphazardly in this blog post only to show that I know words if I had a place where to put them (I forget words, too.)

Back in time, when I wanted to read but was so busy that I couldn't devote the time, I thought, "there's not enough time in life to read all I would like to." That was when I read Spanish novels only. Now that I also read novels in English, I feel that I do not have enough time in two lives to read all I would like to.

That doesn't mean I'm going to go all smug and say "authentic books only, I don't have time for smut." That would limit my world by a lot, and I need to read good and bad prose. The good, to be inspired by, the bad, to pay attention to what I shouldn't do. I've read books that make me want to scream, but I don't feel I've lost my time by reading them. Each book you read is a learning experience.

Something good of reading novels in English is that now I have two worlds of choices. Authors whose work I love in Spanish, and authors whose work I love in English. You need double the lives to read, but also have double the fun. I wouldn't have known many stories I love if I had limited myself to my native language. Learn English, boys and girls.

There's one thing I have to say about the reviews in Goodreads. Some people seem not to know that there's an invisible contract you sign when you begin reading a work of fiction. The contract says, "this is a work of fiction; I, the author, do not necessarily endorse or recommend you, the reader, to do what the characters of the book do". In other words, I'm amazed at how angry some reviews are because of works... of fiction. I've said this before and I will say it again.

A work of fiction is not there to teach you how to navigate through life. It is there to help you escape this world for a while, to fantasize with events that cannot and will not happen, and then be done with it. Maybe there's a moral lesson included in said work, or maybe not. But a work of fiction's purpose is not to teach you how to live life. That's what your parents, siblings, rest of the family, friends, school, shady colleagues and moronic bosses are for.

With that said, if you want to join me, this is my account in Goodreads. Feel free to add me, tell me that my tastes suck in my (rare) five star reviews, or how wrong I am for liking a problematic book. All is welcome.

In any case, have a great day :-)

Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 03/06/2020 at 13:15:00 - 0 Comments

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