When I read a book I want to have fun, I want to be entertained. A book can focus on characters or plot or theme, as long as I’m having fun and I’m immersed in the story I really don’t mind.
But if I'm not having fun reading it is it even worth it? To some people, yes. The plot may be standard but the writing luxurious, maybe the theme of the book is important while the prose is stale. There are components of the book other than 'fun' which matter more to people.
Well I may be an uncultured swine then because when I pick up a book I want to go on a ride. Make me laugh, make me cry, make me scared or keep me guessing, whatever method is chosen it doesn't matter as long as I'm enjoying it.
This is sometimes the, in my opinion, unwarranted criticism laid upon genre fiction. That it focuses too much on plot or character developments to have any lasting merit. That the books core is soft and unworthy of our time because it focus more on “entertainment” than deep theme or high quality prose.
Well maybe that's true. In some cases I'm sure it is.
But just because a book is fast paced or focuses on interesting characters doesn't mean it can't carry a message. One of my favourite recent reads ‘Charmcaster’ by Sebastian de Castell has an emotional core and theme which has fast and fun action wrapped around it.
Some books are hailed as masterpieces that will stand the test of time and be taught in schools for generations and sometimes those books are so thick and dense it makes staring at a wall seem like an appealing option. Now I'm sure our need for constant entertainment and stimulus is a commentary on today's society of next day delivery and online streaming. We want it and we want it now. But if that is indeed the way of our society then shouldn't we adapt to change with it. Shouldn't books aim for a blend of moral, theme and purpose with a healthy dose of entertainment.
I recently read the biography of Dr. Seuss who I'm sure you've probably heard of. Or maybe some of his characters like 'The Grinch' and 'The Cat In The Hat' his idea was that reading should be fun! A young child wouldn't be enticed by stodgy prose and overly moralistic characters. Get them reading and get them having fun. By fostering this habit of reading you encourage their reading abilities to grow with age and for them to take on more challenging books as they grow older.
Now I'm not saying disregard the classics and the people that built the foundations for the works we have to day. But rather than having a student half read a dense literally novel or barely comprehend a Shakespeare play how about having them read Harry Potter, or Illuminae or Circe by Madilenne Miller which is rich with real world culture and theme and yet is a pleasure to read.
Maybe, maybe not.
I guess it all depends.
Why do you read?