Saturday, April 09, 2011

What do You Look for in Your Reading

What do you look for in your read? Is it plot, theme, message or the characters? Or even the setting? What is it that makes you love a book, fiction or non-fiction? Some books are heavy on plot others are filled with beautiful prose. Those that have both are read again and again. If given the chance to choose a book that you would read on your death bed, which book would it be?


  1. Mostly I look for a mix of the qualities you mention. In my death bed I think I would re-read Shakespeare. I know it's banal, but I think that his plays never stop speaking to us.

  2. Great writing. That's all I'm looking for.

    No idea how to answer that last question. Probably not a novel.

  3. @Stefania You really do love your classics.

  4. I look out for two things: theme and style of writing. I know most people wouldn't care about the style for which a particular book is written but for me I do. The style often draws me into the book.

    I would unquestionably go in for 'Disgrace' by J.M Coetzee. Coetzee proves to be one of the finest novelist alive.

  5. @Geosi, Yes style is important too. Some novels are simple but grabbing, others are complex but easy to read and all because the style of writing does not burden the reader. Usually, novels that pay deep attention to very detailed descriptions could distract me say:

    the boy kicked the ball, the grain of sand whirl around it, some fell, others stuck to the ball as it rose higher and higher.

    This might not portray what I mean but if after reading say two, three pages and I am still on the sand grains and the ball though the story is not specifically about it, i get a bit distracted.

    I have heard another author, a prominent one of-course, referred to Coetzee as the finest novelist alive. I would search again. Unfortunately, I am yet to read Disgrace. My reading speed has dipped as I have the family with me now so I am also baby-sitting. Thus, I don't want to rush looking for books now.

  6. @Nana: Yes, if it were not a classic... I don't know, I keep changing my mind. It's a difficult question: I imagine multiple world where I'm taking a different novel to each of them.

  7. aybe the book of Ecclesiastes or Montaigne, but not the complete essays, because that would be too bulky for a feeble deathbed reader. Shakespeare, too - The Tempest and the history plays with Falstaff. The poems of Robert Herrick and A. E. Housman and Emily Dickinson.

    Haiku would be good on the deathbed, wouldn't it - Basho's The Narrow Road to Oku would be nice.

  8. @Stefania, You would really need many worlds... lol.

  9. @AR Basho would provide a good lead to the netherworld; such pithy poems. So lovely and Basho made them even more beautiful. Narrow Road to the Interior...

    Ecclesiastes with all its warnings of vanity would be a sad reading especially if one failed to adhere to them or if one was materialistic. The lovely but sometimes sorrowful poems of Dickinson would also be great, considering she was almost a recluse herself. 'Because I could not stop for death, it kindly stopped for me'. That line always moves me.

    Housman is new to me but not Herrick. Interesting selections

  10. Give me a novel with characters I can care about, with a tight story, and I'm good.

  11. Hmmm you know I'm not sure what it is that draws me to a story. I think it is a combination of characters and plot, as well as the style. For example novels written in the form of letters I find much more difficult. As for the final book... wow what a tough decision. I might say Wicked by Gregory Maguire. If only because I've been craving a reread of it for some time but it is packed up in a box somewhere so I can't!


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