But this evening I read some reviews of the book which turned my sweetness bitter. Apparently, anyone who values the book must be unintelligent because it is such a terrible book. Badly plotted, badly written, with shallow characters. Surely, the only reason the book won awards is because the writer herself is popular.
I came away from those reviews feeling foolish for loving the book. But after a while of thinking and sighing, I concluded that my experience of it had been so different from those clever reviewers because I'd read it in a very different way. I'd been completely uninterested in the author's (faulty) research, and I'd skipped most of her (unnecessary) rambles. I loved the book because of what I brought to it.
I personally believe a story belongs first and foremost to its writer. But I believe too that every writer creates two stories : the one she consciously knows, that she puts down on the page, and the dream one which works with the reader's own perspectives, thoughts, and life experiences.
That "badly written" book is treasure to me because when I was a small child in school, we had to listen to recordings of air raid sirens ... and because I was raised to be proudly British in a country which was becoming increasingly Americanised ... and because of a department store I visited ...
And even because the words of the book were brown, and they tasted like rich bread and heavy honey.
Not knowing the book I'm talking about, you won't understand why it evoked those thoughts. But even knowing the book, you still might not understand. That's my point - we are all as readers completely unique.
(A caring writer is surely aware on some level that her story has a dream-spirit, and will let it flow beneath her consciousness, through her sentences. What a privilege for her, to be able to put something into the world that will become so much more than her own vision, her own words!)
There's another book I own which is such trash, I skim most of it. However, it contains a few scenes I read over and again. I'd never admit to loving the book, I'd be too embarrassed. But at the same time it has given me pieces of a story that my own heart transforms into beautiful magic.
How can we judge people on what they read when we don't know the story they are experiencing in the profoundly unique environment of theiir heart? And how can we savage a book just for the words on the page without pondering how we, each of us, met its spirit?
Elsewhere on the subject of reading.