Situational And Emotional Representation In Books

It seems as though I’ve read a lot of books recently that I’ve hit me in a lot of personal ways. Most of the time, I can pinpoint exactly what soft spot it hit and why I reacted the way I did. Other times, it seems so much more complex. This is something that has been rattling around in my brain for a few weeks now and I’ve been trying to figure out why I seem to react so strongly.

I have also seemed to struggle to really find what I want to read the most. Something like a reading slump, but not so much that I have disliked a lot of what I’ve read. Just, I’ve wanted to find something more than what I actually found.

I finally figured out at least a part of it. I’m a deeply emotional reader. I need to have emotional connections to the story and the characters, at least to some extent, for me to really enjoy it. Those are the stories I’ve been craving, but I haven’t quite been able to say I’m looking for this very specific kind of book because I wasn’t even certain what I’d been looking for. It has occurred to me that, at least on one front, I’m looking for emotional or situational representations that reflect on me and my life experiences. I want to see more pieces of my own reality in the books I read.

The problem with that is the times I’ve run across those, more times than not, I really end up disliking the book. These are the ones I’ve had the hardest time trying to really pinpoint the why. I’m beginning to think that a big part of that is the way I want to see those emotions and situations handled. I either want to see them handled in the way I did as some sort of validation of my experiences, or in a way that I see as better and with more positive results than what I experienced allowing that character to avoid some of my own personal chaos. Rarely do I get the one I need for that specific situation or emotion and end up disappointed with the story in front of me.

If a character does something that is counter to what I need in that situation emotionally, I find it taints how I feel about that character. That isn’t to say I’m looking for perfect characters, because perfect isn’t interesting at all. It is boring. I’m looking for human flaws, but I apparently need them flawed in just the right way, if that makes any sense at all.

I’m not certain if this is just a me thing or if others have similar feelings about this. I know I have a whole lot of peeves when it comes to books, but I wasn’t aware that some of these emotional situations and how they are handled was one of them. Everyone is going to bring personal experience and bias into a book they read, but I wasn’t aware of quite how much I drag along with me when I open a book.

I adore stories about families, but those also tend to be the ones that push my buttons hard. Issues like toxic relationships, mental abuse, rejection, forgiveness for those kinds of issues and family obligations all tend to be some really hot spots for me and I almost never react well to them even though those are the very things you tend to see most often in those types of books.

Do other people have these kinds of issues with what they read, maybe with other specific topics or am I just as weird as I think I am?

Sorry if this was a bit of a rambly mess. I think I’m still working through it all and I don’t think I’ve manged to dig it all out yet.

Can I Just Say…

When I see someone posting about being born in the late ’90s, knowing they are a functioning adult, my brain sort of cramps and I get a little twitch in the corner of my eye. OC was born in the late ’90s, so this kind of statement makes me feel incredibly old knowing I have a kid that technically falls into that same category. It really doesn’t help that Hubby just had a birthday and we were both cringing at the fact that he is only a year away from a half a century. Most days, my age isn’t a huge deal to me. It is just moments like this, when I’m forced to think in numbers rather than in feeling that I start to feel a little on the ancient side of things.

On an unrelated note, when I went to post the image for this, I was floored that it wasn’t in my images already. I could have sworn I’d posted this ages ago. Either way, here it is. It is something I did… back in the late ’90s, early ’00s for a college art class. We were supposed to reproduce a master’s work. I think I may have skirted the rules a bit as Jan van Eyck probably didn’t quite count (the teacher was really looking for recognizable pieces), but there was something crazily appealing about his self portrait that I couldn’t get out of my head. This is done in my favorite charcoal/eraser technique and is one of my favorite pieces even if it isn’t my best by a long shot. And no, it isn’t actually a cranky old hag even if it may look like one. The artist is a guy. Feel free to search his name if you want to compare my amateurish attempt. This portrait is one of the first in the results.

Review Rating Thoughts: Adjustments

After spending some time with this and tossing around ideas, I think I may have come up with something that works for me on my new rating process.

My biggest issue with the way I had set up the new system was the equal weighting across all areas of evaluation. That just doesn’t work for me because not all of those areas are important to all books. I do think that there are a few that are critical, no matter the book.

At the same time, I really liked how that specific breakdown helped me to look at the book from a more structured place rather than strictly opinion and emotional reaction. I liked how it helped me to put some of my thoughts into words.

From those two perspectives, I think what I’m going to try out is narrowing down which areas I feel are critical, at least for me as a reader, to all books and use only those as the basis for my SPA. For now, I am going to try to keep it to just Characters, Believably, and Personal Opinion. I want to keep the other areas for evaluation purposes. If one in particular, say my peeves, plays heavily into my reaction to a particular book, I will include that in the SPA as well.

All the others, I will still give star ratings to, but they will not impact that overall average. I can really love or hate a cover of a book and not have it  impact my enjoyment of the book, but I love book covers and rarely ever find a way to talk about them. The same could be said for any of the other areas, that there was something I want to point out, but it may not play a role in what I thought about the book.

There is a chance I’ll leave a section out of a review because it just doesn’t apply. I might even modify or remove a section or two because there seems to be so much overlap at times. When you are talking about characters and believability and your opinion on a book, you are invariably also talking about plot. That is the big area I’m not entirely sure what I know what to do with, which is kind of crazy because plot is a huge part of every single book.

Whatever I decide, I’m going to need to play with how I lay it all out to make it clear which areas are being included in the SPA and which are not. I am also going to use the write up in the Personal Opinion portion of the review as kind of the full overview as that seems to work best for then being able to transfer my review to Goodreads or Amazon.

I’m sure it will take a time or two running through to see what kinds of issues I may have or what I’ll still need to tweak, but this gives me a starting point for what I feel I want to change. My hope is that these changes will still give a more merit based opinion, but still feel like the rating range I would have been giving books before this revamp.

Now I just need some time to finish a book without having a dozen things interrupt me or distract me.

New Rating System Thoughts

Having done a couple of reviews under my new system, I’ve seen a few issues with it that have bothered me and I need to figure out a way to tweak it to work better. I do think it does what I intended in the sense that the final rating is more than just a blanket, subjective opinion. It is a result of a more thought out analysis based on what I consider important in a book. At the same time, I feel like any book I attempt to rate under this system is going to hit an SPA of 3 or very close. That kind of defeats the purpose. At least from one side.

Continue reading “New Rating System Thoughts”

Quality of Work?

This is a subject that has been rolling around in my head for a while now and I’ve gone back and forth debating with myself over whether I wanted to post about it or not. Are we diluting the quality of our literature with the advent of self-publishing? Yes, I’m actually asking that as a self-published, indie author.

Continue reading “Quality of Work?”

Book Genre Placement

This is something that falls heavily into one of my pet peeves in books. Genre categories and incorrect genre placement. Getting to see some of the difficulties with this issue from the publishing side hasn’t changed my stance on this that much. In some areas, available genre choices, it makes it even worse.

Continue reading “Book Genre Placement”

Lessons Learned: Week 1 of Being An Indie Author

In the little over a week since I clicked publish on my book, I have learned a lot about being in the indie author community and the overall environment around publishing a book on your own. Or at least, the pieces I have seen or attempted to interact with. Some of those lessons aren’t even things I’ve really learned, but rather things I already knew and got pretty emphatically confirmed.

Continue reading “Lessons Learned: Week 1 of Being An Indie Author”

Crazy Self-Publishing Process

When I first looked into the possibility of self-publishing, most all of the steps looked pretty easy. At its base, you write a book then find a platform and hit publish. While you can do it that way, chances are it won’t really go that well for you because a few critical steps have most likely been missed along the way. That is unless you are also an artist, cover designer, interior book designer*, editor and/or have friends and family willing to do those things for you.

Continue reading “Crazy Self-Publishing Process”

Seeing Myself

Self confidence has never been my strong suit. I know that I am probably a lot harder on myself than most other people will be, especially friends and family. That plays into doubting what they say and fueling that doubt. This is one of those things that I do know and recognize about myself and I’ve tried to watch for it in my kids and encourage them to push past it in themselves. It is something I had thought they were doing pretty well with. Until BG was getting ready to start her art class in second semester.

Continue reading “Seeing Myself”

Resonance

I obviously enjoy a wide range of books across many genres, but the ones that tend to stick with me the most are the ones that can give me a story about the imperfections of humanity and do so with a strong emotional impact, be it through humor, joy, anger, love, tears or grief. As long as the story fully engages my emotions, I’m probably going to really enjoy it, but even more so if it has a central focus on family.

Continue reading “Resonance”

Thoughts on #MeToo

I’d been dealing with lots of thoughts on the issue of sexual assault and the general response (or lack thereof) when a woman makes a claim of sexual assault quite a bit lately. With my own personal experience in my past, it is an issue I’ve always had struggles with trying to grasp. The last couple of weeks, there have been a couple of things that have popped up, keeping it in the front of my thoughts, even had a discussion on FB. When I saw the hashtag going around, it kind of felt like maybe I needed to get it out of my head. Continue reading “Thoughts on #MeToo”

Out of Sorts

Last week was hard. Hubby and I made the decision to drop OC from our insurance. It feels like I’m failing as a parent or that I’m a bad parent because I’ve taken that last safety net away. Knowing he doesn’t want it doesn’t change how I feel about it. We decided that we could not give him another opportunity to carelessly or thoughtlessly harm us or the other kids and he could very easily do so as long as he was covered under our plan. Continue reading “Out of Sorts”

Pretty Little Lies… Ideals

Perfect. Unconditional. Selfless. Black and White/Right and Wrong.

I’m going to apologize upfront as this is going to be kind of long and rambling, but these are things that have, yet again, been running through my head on an infinity loop. Continue reading “Pretty Little Lies… Ideals”

Trust and Conditioning

A brief, joking conversation on FB with a long time friend sparked a random, bunny trail of thoughts that have kept circling around in my brain since they got kicked off on that track over a week ago.  The more I keep going back to them, mulling them over, even after having talked it out a bit with Hubby, and have them still hanging around, makes me think that there is more that I need to be getting out of these thoughts. Since I haven’t quite gotten the point yet, I thought I’d toss them out here to see if it would quiet them down. Continue reading “Trust and Conditioning”

Quietly Reading

While I have still been reading, I’ve just kind of been off to the side, doing it quietly.  Partly because there have been quite a lot of things going on that have kept me too busy and partly because I just haven’t had much to say about what I’ve read recently, no matter if it was really good or not so good.  I have still been updating my reading list on Goodreads with ratings, but I haven’t written any reviews recently.

I’m in kind of a reading funk lately.  It isn’t that I haven’t read anything good, but I want to find something new that really grabs me and I haven’t found that yet.  I have my handful of very favorite authors that I anxiously await anything new they put out because I know, without a doubt, that I’m going to love it.  Sadly, that is only a very small handful of authors that fall into that category.  I’d made it something of a goal last year to find a new one, but it didn’t happen, which I thought was really surprising as I figured it couldn’t be too hard with as much as I like to read.

Kind of like having a food craving, but not having the right food around to satisfy it, I’ve been reading all kinds of things to try and figure out what I feel I’m missing, even doing a bit of rereading a few books here and there.  There have been a few times I thought I’d touched on it, but it never really quite hit the mark.  Not sure if it is the sheer volume of books I read and I’m just getting bored or if it is that I genuinely want something I haven’t run across yet, but most of my reading hasn’t been all that satisfying lately, even if I have read some good ones.

I’ve even been shuffling books to the bottom of my reading list, or having to recheck them out later because I didn’t get to them in time, because even though I do want to read them, I’m just not in the mood at the moment for most of what is on my list.  Not a fan of the current slump, but it isn’t like it will be much of hardship getting over it, because… books, reading… yeah, not like you’ll have to twist my arm or anything.