by Marc Cullison (mcullison.com)
I have a Kindle. It’s my second one. A Paperwhite. I love it. I am a voracious reader and I don’t do too badly at writing, either. I read a little bit of everything, but I tend to shy away from the “big name” mainstream authors. Don’t get me wrong by thinking that I’m going to ditch a copy of “Winds of War” by Herman Wouk. That, I’ve read. Any many other works of literature by “big name”authors. It’s the mainstream variety that I have grown to dislike.
Here’s the thing. I can read one book by a prominent mainstream author (one of those who churns out books like parts off of an assembly line) or maybe even two. Generally, they are entertaining, although they’re not going to win any awards from my point of view. About the third book, if it’s a suspense or thriller with a tall, dark, handsome main character who is independently wealthy and a sort of superman type guy, for any subsequent book all the author does is change the character’s name, make minor adjustments in the plot, and maybe the girlfriend, since he is never married, and I get nearly the same book I read before. Boring.
I’ve taken to reading the works of new, unknown or upcoming authors. In fact, I have read quite a few self-published works. Some of them are good, with intriguing story lines, well developed characters, and smooth, polished writing styles. However, many of them are not so good. I can honestly say that many of them are really bad. This might be because of poor editing, poor writing style, corny story line, too much narrative that has nothing to do with the story, contrived dialog, or a combination of these. It usually involves a combination. In most cases, it amounts to the fact that the book is just not ready to be published. The author just doesn’t quite grasp what the reader is expecting or just doesn’t know how to write a book that someone would want to read.
In their quest to be recognized as published authors, they get ahead of themselves by not reading the works of other authors and failing to thoroughly edit their work for errors. Of course, there are those individuals who don’t recognize their errors as errors, such as misused words, wrong or mixed verb tense, or just simple misspelling. And then there are those would-be authors who try to be witty but come across as cutesy, like asking the reader a rhetorical question then answering it with some corny prose. As a reader, this kind of thing really toasts my cookies. It stops me cold in the story, throws me completely out of it, and then I have to decide if I want to continue reading the book. I’m not a quitter, so it takes some critical errors to force me to quit my read. But I have done that on a few occasions.
I am fortunate that a lot of these books are sold by Amazon.com for less than a dollar or are free for download to a Kindle. I haven’t lost much money in this pursuit and I have gained a healthy respect for those authors who have published books worthy of reading. Some of them are better than a lot of the mainstream stuff sold in the bookstores or online, of which some is just plain crap, but somewhere, some publisher will take it on and sell it to the public.
As for the mainstream market, I have to ask myself why a person would buy books that have little or no literary merit, so-so writing styles, and plots and characters so similar to thousands of other books? I have found several famous series of suspense, thriller, or whatever you want to call them. Each of them is the same book just rewritten each time it goes to press. I like to read something unique and exciting, or something that will cause me to think and contemplate life. That’s why I shun much of the mainstream junk. I hate to think that the average reader has stooped to such mindless drivel. Is it that these books require little effort to read, or has their vocabulary shrunk to that of the average teenager, or are they just plain lazy and don’t want to have to think?
I just don’t know, but I think about it a lot, just like I think about a lot of things. If you haven’t read a good literary book, why don’t you give it a try? Actually think about the story and how you would feel if it was about you. It will open up a whole new world and give you a new perspective on life. And, by the way, try out an new author. One you’ve not heard of before.