How We Choose To Read

I got to thinking about how we choose to read, and in turn how I have done so, and changed over the years.

For me I tend to look at a hardback copy of a book and see it for the premium that it is. Quite why people choose hardbacks over softbacks or paperbacks is a mystery to me at times. You see some books which are charged at a much higher price, simply for how it is packaged, and often I can’t help but wonder if the extra cost is worth it. Still, they look good on a shelf!

Thinking about the ways I have read a book, it reminded me of a time when I read Stephen King’s Cell on an electronic PDA in the bath. It was a small device, around 5 inches by 3 inches, with a decidedly not HD screen. Slightly bigger than a smart phone, and lighter. It was a first for me, and well before the prevalence of smart phones and tablets. I did this every night for a week, laid in the bath reading it until I finished. I quite enjoyed the experience, and thankfully no mishaps, no dropped devices into the bath. However I haven’t done it since.

The thing about paperbacks, especially if it is raining out or we are in the bath is that the paper gets wet easily, it folds up and afterwards looks awful when stored, not to mention how it is when we want to read it again.

This brings us to the matter of reading books on electronic devices, such as Amazon’s Kindle and others. They are amazingly practical, and can store huge amounts of books on one tiny device. The screens are clear and bright, and often battery life can last months. So obviously they are perfect, and the natural future of reading.

Well, perhaps not. I have a pretty large collection of books, and lots of shelves to store them. At one time I decided to go all in, obtaining copies of all of my books in electronic format, and boxing up the books for the loft. People who know me were horrified, unable to comprehend the thought. To my mind I figured they were just being old fashioned, but looking back I can see their point. Yes, books wear out and are difficult in some circumstances, but a row of shelves with books on is something to be proud of, and are an instant visual reminder of being there, to be read again, our very favorites.

So now I am back at it, rebuilding my book collection, in paperback, and occasionally a hardback. I still have the electronic versions, but for me it’s good to have a choice.

Ultimately of course it doesn’t truly matter how you read, in whichever format, but we are lucky, in that we have a choice.

Then there are audio books, which stemmed from the old taped copies, often using six to ten tapes, on both sides. The sound quality on the recordings wasn’t great, but then along came books on CD, and now we have the likes of Audible, where you can use phones, tablets, laptops, even devices such as the Amazon Echo Dot to listen to our collection.

What it all means really is that our choice of how we enjoy our books is expanding continually. We are spoilt in fact, because there have never been so many ways to enjoy one of our favorite pastimes.

All that we need are a great selection of books to read, and for that we really are spoiled.


Sign Up For My Newsletter To See When New Books And Stories Are Released.

Email: djcowdall@gmx.co.uk

DJ Cowdall on Instagram
DJ Cowdall on Twitter
DJ Cowdall on Facebook
DJ Cowdall on Goodreads

Emotion In Books

When reading books we all go through a wide range of emotions. What and how we feel depends a lot on the type of books we read. When we read a thriller, this can open up a lot of differing feelings, however the primary element will be an increase in our heart rate due to excitement or tension, brought on my sudden events which cause abrupt changes. From this we can feel fear, a surge of adrenaline, or even simply being more aggressive within ourselves. For example if the primary character in a novel is someone we identify with, a good person perhaps fighting off some kind of evil or criminal actions, we can feel their aggression, their determination to succeed, and if and when this happens, we feel a sense of elation or joy. If we identify with a character that is evil, or carries out criminal acts and gets away with it, then we may feel an oddly similar kind of joy over this, or satisfaction borne of their odd success. I say satisfaction, because through books and our imagination we allow ourselves to act out that lead character, and do things with might never otherwise do in life.

A comedy can be different, in that we stand back, mentally, to look at the actions of people in the novel, and the things that happen to them. It is like watching something funny in real life, where perhaps something slapstick happens, like a cake to the face. We wouldn’t usually want to identify with that character, we don’t want to be the point of the joke, but we’re often happy to see others in that predicament. Still we feel emotions, humour tickles us, we smile and feel good, and are driven along, coupled with our imagination. There can still be other elements of emotion in what we feel when we read something like that, but our goal is to laugh, which tends to be why we might choose such a novel, knowing it is going to make us laugh.

Other novels, such as simple action novels, perhaps based on war or fighting, maybe makes us feel brave, allows us to imagine ourselves in situations of drama and risk without actually risking our lives or safety. From this we do still feel a sense of fear, but overwhelmingly we feel satisfaction when the primary protagonist succeeds in their work, no matter what it costs them.

Some novels make us cry, they expose us to emotions that we may otherwise shy away from, mainly because with a book we can close it, and go do something else, or interact with others in our lives. From this we have a reminder of how good our lives can be, as well as a peek into a world where others might suffer, another reminder of how life could be. We gain satisfaction in another way, a kind of schadenfreude, where others might suffer, and perhaps we might enjoy it, feeling better about ourselves without going through it first. That may sound negative, nasty even, but it is an element of human nature.

That then is perhaps what is most powerful about reading books, that they allow us to step into another person’s shoes, but to also experience everything they do and say, without cost, remorse or recriminations. We are a fly on the wall, a ghost sliding through the corridors of life, enjoying all the rampaging energy, the life, creation and destruction that writers expose us to. They are a doorway to everything else we can imagine, but don’t want to experience, and most of all they provide us with a route to a series of experiences from which we draw a full range of emotional experiences, all without cost. Why without cost? Because when we have had enough, for that day or that moment, we can close the book, and go back to our safe, normal lives.

Thank goodness for writers, for creators, and thank goodness for books.

Email: djcowdall@gmx.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/DJCowdall
http://www.davidcowdall.com
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15502553.D_J_Cowdall


Sign Up For My Newsletter To See When New Books And Stories Are Released.

 

Our shared love of reading

I think it’s fair to say we all share the love of a good book, but I sometimes wonder what it is that creates the perfect setting for a really good book. This got me to thinking about a range of things connected with reading, and what we need in order to enjoy it.
I thought about how I have read books, and in what manner in the past, and how these things have affected what I felt about the book, and even how I remembered it.

Back when Stephen King released his new book Cell , I recall having a digital copy of it on my small electronic PDA. This was before the widespread use of smart phones and tablets, when people used electronic PDA devices for everything that smart phones do, only back then not as well. The screens were not high resolution, and usually only black and white, but when it came to writing notes and even reading ebooks, they did the job. I spent an entire week, each night having a bath, laid in hot water, reading that book of Mr King’s. I will admit, it wasn’t one of his best, but it was enjoyable anyway, and I think all the more memorable because I read it while in the bath, and using this PDA, which was a first for me.

I got to thinking of all the ways I have enjoyed a book, and how the setting of my reading contributed to my enjoyment. That time in the bath was unique, and enjoyable, but mostly my reading takes place when I am in bed. I have a small night light on, by the side of my bed, and I am snugly comfy under the plush covers, propped up by some lovely pillows, with a drink and a snack if I can find the time to put the book down long enough to enjoy them. I have read countless books this way, and for me it is a moment of tranquillity and solitude, while I lose myself in a book, where my imagination can roam and my attention is lost within its world.

I know one family member of mine has a very large armchair, quite huge in fact. She gets a very large fleece, wraps herself in it, and curls up on the chair with her new book and reads it for hours.
The place where we sit or lay to enjoy our new book can become symbiotic with its enjoyment, as if we are cocooned within a shell, protected from disturbances, transported away so that our minds can truly connect with the characters and situations within.
So I think it is fair to say that how we prepare where we read is as important as anything else. It provides us with a base from which we can remain relaxed and focused on the journey into the next book.

I think where we are to do this is as important as any element in our experience as readers, so that through this we can soak up every word and every detail, unhinge our imaginations and enjoy all the thrills and emotions, good or bad from a novel, without having to worry about feeling uncomfortable or stiff, or cold, or how our surroundings keep impinging on what we are trying to experience.

I no longer read books in the bath, far too many curled pages from the steam on my beloved paperbacks. Now I mirror that of a family member, a lovely large leather chair, with a footstool, and a huge fleece which buries me. I even go so far as to wear ear plugs now! Because I take those first steps into that new world of literature, nothing can possible stop me!

We are spoilt in a way, so many choices, not only of the books we want to read, but how and where we can do it. That’s the beauty of reading; we can do it anywhere.

Email: djcowdall@gmx.co.uk
DJ Cowdall on Twitter
Facebook Pages of DJ Cowdall
DJ Cowdall on Goodreads


Sign Up For My Newsletter To See When New Books And Stories Are Released.

New Premium Novel On Sale Now

Missing


From the author of The Dog Under The Bed comes a fascinating study of a woman and her family as their lives fall apart

Have you ever been left behind?

It can happen to any of us, without warning, often without explanation. We live our lives, thinking everything is fine, and then one day someone tells us they don’t love us, or that they’re no longer happy. Some simply walk away, and some simply never get the chance to say goodbye. Often those left behind have no clue what happened, to their lives or the people they thought they would spend the rest of their lives with

Liz Cornwell is a woman much like any other, with two children, a pretty home and a life of acceptance for how it was supposed to be. Until the day she finds herself alone, with no money, no hope and no prospects for the future

This is a tale of how one woman faces up to the realities of her life, where control was something she had long forgotten. Liz learns to cope and changes with events, even as they threaten to overwhelm her and her children

Anybody can change, for good or bad, but how we deal with this change, and how we transform, compromise and adapt determines how we succeed in our lives ahead

One woman steps up to the challenge, facing a never ending barrage of debt, loss and heartache. She will not give in, will not stop fighting for what she believes in, no matter what it might cost her

Missing is a tale of loss overcome by belief, of the strength of family, and how one woman proves against all odds that whatever happens, life goes on

An Emotional roller-coaster ride as a family find their lives falling apart. From loss to debt, to homelessness, and one woman’s struggle to hold it all together.


Quotes from the book:

“Everything seemed to pass in a blur, as she dropped change everywhere for the bus, then struggled to find enough to pay her way, then struggled again to find a suitable empty seat even though the bus was empty. The roads and fields outside were like her mind, leaving no impression, as if they were unreal. The journey into town felt like a dream, that she was drifting along, no longer in her own body, totally out of control.”

*

“The skies were ever white, signifying the bitter cold outside, and the onset of winter. Leaves had long fallen to the ground, as plants and trees had withered away and flowers died back to black. It was as if her life had diminished subtly, and everything around her reflected that, decaying and turning to ash, becoming nothing more than dusty memories of a better time. She wondered of those times, trying to imagine a happier moment, but for all she did, they were always tainted by something bad happening, however minor.”

On Sale Now Exclusively From Amazon Worldwide


Sign Up For My Newsletter To See When New Books And Stories Are Released.

Email: djcowdall@gmx.co.uk
DJ Cowdall – Twitter
DJ Cowdall – Facebook
DJ Cowdall – Goodreads

What is more important, the story or the prose?

It would be easy to immediately say that the story is much more important than anything else, because a novel or short story without an actual story, or plot, is nothing but a passage of words. The reality for many people is very different. There are genres of fiction such as Slipstream, which has few boundaries to define what it means or stands for. Those who enjoy traditional fiction may read some of these pieces and struggle to not only understand them, but also enjoy them. Often within these pieces are words or phrases which catch the eye, and resonate a deeper meaning, where the end result of what a story might be is less important than how it is actually written. Here the matter of communication stands out, like a whisper in the night, speaking to us in a way in which many have become immune to hearing, or feeling.

Beyond something like Slipstream are novels which are expressly and expansively written, soaking every sentence in words and descriptions which help to being the scene alive. One such story is called The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, by Angela Carter. The way in which she describes every single thing is rich and full, using every word possible to express every moment of the tale.

Some find it annoying, unable to get past the language to enjoy the story, but others (such as myself) find it accompanies the piece beautifully, as if the words weave a tapestry, stringing it altogether in a unique and fascinating blend.

Even a book such as The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger could be said to be similar, as if the author has poured out every single thought into an endless array of words, clawing at trying to convey her feelings throughout the novel, as if a free flow of words might somehow impart as much emotion to the reader as she might have felt when writing it.

It is a difficult balance, for sure, as a writer. I have heard some say J.K Rowling isn’t a very good writer, because her words and sentences are poorly written, but then this would surely miss the entire point of the Harry Potter books, in that the story and the worlds they create are everything. Does a book have to be written with perfect grammar and spelling, and with the guile and wit of Dickens for it to have any merit?

Truthfully, only the reader can decide this. Some find an awkwardness of grammar or syntax make it impossible to enjoy a novel or story, and that has to be respected, but it cannot be the end of it, because often a truly superb story will override this, and ensure proper enjoyment for the reader, no matter what the story’s limitations in how it is written.

What of those who somehow manage to marry it all perfectly, a wonderful story, superbly written, without a deluge of prose? Perhaps they would be the Mark Twains of the literary world, and rightly recognized for it. If so, perhaps it is something we might all strive for.

Email: djcowdall@gmx.co.uk
DJ Cowdall on Twitter
Facebook Pages of DJ Cowdall
DJ Cowdall on Goodreads


Sign Up For My Newsletter To See When New Books And Stories Are Released.