Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Story Over Style Every Time

The problem I have always had with reading books that other people (usually vastly more literate than myself) recommend, is that often more importance is given to the writing style and use of verbiage than to the story itself. Yes, there are several great books I have enjoyed that come with extensive literary pedigrees. But that's not the reason I like them. I like them because of the stories they tell.  I have been able to read many a novel and have overlooked writing that isn't great just because the story was intriguing. I enjoy these novels because it is the story that stays in my head and twists and turns around in my brain for days after I put the book down. On the other hand, I have read many highly-acclaimed books that left me empty and feeling like I had just wasted some portion of my life that I will never get back. Just because it's a big hit with the literary critics doesn't mean it's good.
For example, I love Baldacci and Clive Cussler books and have recommended them to my book clubs in the past. These books weren't exactly sneered at, but I could tell that this kind of general consumer literature would not be included in the annual reading list. Why? Because a really great story that is entertaining and enjoyable isn't usually considered literary. I have also recommended Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and they were considered wonderful book choices. Why? Because they are literary classics, of course! Those happen to be two of my personal favorites, alongside the less literary, but no less classic, King and Maxwell and The Camel Club series by Baldacci.
I don't care what pedigree comes with the book, as long it tells a great story. If it takes me into another world for awhile and makes me forget that my toilet overflowed this evening and that I had to spend an hour cleaning it up, then in my view, it was a great novel!

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