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A Musing not related to Monday… Expectations from a book

September 26, 2008

So reading Run by Ann Patchett for Every Day I Write The Book‘s book club this month got me thinking about my expectations of what I want from a book. What is it I’m expecting when starting a new book? Does it depend if it’s fiction or non-fiction. Does it depend if it’s solely for pleasure or if I owe a review? Should it inspire me or teach me something? Should it depend on whether it’s an author I’m familiar with or someone whose work I haven’t read before?

After asking myself those questions it simply comes down to this: I expect my fiction reading to entertain and my non-fiction reading to get me thinking.

I want my fiction books to do nothing more than provide an entertaining story. Something that transports me to another time and place, another life, another world. I want to be gone from here and be there. Maybe I’m looking for a thrill, a new love, a different job, to see what’s around the next corner. I want to cry, laugh, have fun, feel a broken heart, start over, do it again the same way. Maybe I want to be someone I’m not just for a short while. Maybe I want to try having what I don’t ~ different values, different lifestyle. Most of all I just want to escape.

What I don’t want is a story that tangles me up in knots. I don’t want it to contain meaning and messages, make points, be thought provoking or deep. I don’t want worry about trying to ‘get it’ when I don’t.

Then again many of things I don’t want in my fiction reading I do expect from my non-fiction selections. I usually go into reading non-fiction with a purpose. I want it to enlighten me, get my thoughts rolling, bring new ideas and cultures into my world. I want to explore, travel to places I’d never go, experiment with ideas. I want to be tested. I want other perspectives, mental stimulation and challenges.

This is why my reading tastes vary far and wide. Why I’m willing to give just about every book I come across chance to make an impression.


What do you expect from your reading? Do you feel the same way I do? Or are my expectations a complete 180 from yours?

  1. September 26, 2008 8:17 pm

    When I was reading your discription of what you want in a book, I was thinking,”That’s exactly how I feel.” I guess that’s why I enjoy reading your blog.
    Thank you for stopping by and visiting. This is a topic that has been niggling at me for a while so it got it’s own post. Now maybe it will leave me alone and let me sleep at night.

  2. September 30, 2008 9:11 am

    Interesting post, Marcia! I’ve been mulling this question over for a while. I may have to write my own post on the subject!
    Thanks. It is interesting and one I revisit constantly with myself. All this back and forth about what I want from my reading wears me out.

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