Reading: Does experience matter?
I've been thinking a lot about reader experience lately, and how it can relate to what and how people read. Do we read differently if we read more? I think a lot of people think we do, but maybe there are arguments for either side:
Side One — Greater XP points:
On the one hand, I think readers with greater XP and bonus "I-read-that-in-a-single-afternoon" points can definitely read faster, and maybe even more conscientiously. Readers, who may have turned into the occasional writer, read not only with a passion but with a respect too. I understand how hard it is to keep track of limbs and people in a fight scene, so when you do it well I respect you regardless of what I am actually reading. Sometimes I'll respect you even if I don't like the book.
Side Two — Books for all:
On the other hand, isn't reading supposed to be universal? Don't we dip into all areas and maintain that they all have their value? I, for one, think YA books are just as complex and important as other categories of books. Does that mean experience doesn't matter? Does that mean reading more doesn't make us connoisseurs but just kind of a bit arrogant about how awesome we are?
It's a hard one. I read a lot. What this means is that I hope my reading experience makes a difference. I don't mind if it doesn't — I'll still do it anyway — but I hope all the same. I hope that when I pick up a cliche or frown at a sentence it is because I am a collector of good, often great, words and I have come to know what fits into that category and what does not. I hope that deep down I understand we all have a different set of collected words too. I hope that I have simply become discerning in my reading, and not hubristic.
Recently I've become very aware of my ability to dislike, as well as love, books. Recently I've noticed that while experienced readers seem to love harder sometimes, the words that take our breath away, we can also be pretty scathing of things that fall short. Recently I've taken to not only being an experienced reader, but trying to be a better one.
Because maybe it's not about whether you've read fifty, or one, book this year. Maybe it's about being a good reader; about looking at a book from all viewpoints and accepting that with flaws come the occasional moments of perfection. Maybe it's about understanding that you won't simply become an amalgamation of the less than perfect books you've read. You're strong. It's not like we become an amalgamation of all the less than coolios people we meet in life. Maybe it's more about being able to understand that a book, like a person, is never completely finished and that's okay.
What's your reading experience level like? Are you a forgiving reader? I find that I am initially very trusting but if that bond is broken I can be a little hard on books. I also occasionally expect too much of books I know about and expect too little of books I do not.