Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What type of reader are you?

Quite often when I’m surfing message boards or reading reviews the writer will point out why a certain book didn't work for her; why she got pulled out of a story. Often times it is because the author has made a mistake with titles on a historical book or unwittingly plants a field of tomatoes in 12th century England or any number of small errors. But this can bother some readers to the point where they can no longer enjoy the book and/or if they continue to read it they become more and more irked. I came up with a brilliant explanation for why this bothers some readers and other readers hardly even notice this kind of thing. This brings me to the point of this post. I came up with theory on the type of readers there are.

The first type is a technical reader The technical reader is the kind of reader who is distracted by historical errors; they will notice the author included a scene that has tomatoes in 12th century England or has incorrectly addressed a duke/earl/marquis/baron. The technical reader enjoys a book less if there are errors. There is nothing wrong with this type of reader. If an author is going to write a historical novel, they should do their research to the best of their ability so they don’t get tripped up with technical errors. Improper punctuation can also make or break a book for the technical reader. Wallpaper romances are a no-no for the technical reader.

The other kind of reader is the artistic reader. This type of reader doesn’t generally notice or care if there are tomatoes in 12th century England. The artistic reader is not that aware of vegetation. The artistic reader thinks she knows the correct way to address the step mother of a duke but isn’t entirely sure and if it is done incorrectly, will probably not notice. The historical facts while important, in the long run aren’t nearly a book breaker to them. What is more important is while they are reading a book, are they taken away to another land or another time? This is what really matters the most to the artistic reader. Are they swept away by the writings of an author? Improper punctuation has been know to slip through unnoticed. Wallpaper romances, if written well, can sometimes work for them

Do you tend to rush through a story to get to the end, or do you stop along the way, smell the roses so to speak and take note of the inconsistencies. What makes a book a keeper can be vastly different between these two groups of readers so what kind of a reader are you?
Me, I’m an artistic type of reader. I did not know until not to long ago they didn't grow tomatoes in the middle ages.

7 comments:

Giselle said...

Hmmmmm..I think I may be a weird hybrid of both the technical and artistic type. I mean historical errors probably go right over my head for the most part but at the same time I can't stand wallpapered historicals i.e modern jargon in every other page etc. But I have been known to overlook these things if every other aspect in the book is extremely well done. Whew! can ya tell I'm feeling chatty today?

Anonymous said...

I came over through Maili's blog.

I can definitely say I am more of an artistic reader. I studied History in university but I hardly remember anything nowadays. I just learned recently that potatoes did not exist before...well, apparently there were tons of people who never knew the joy of the potato! I remember hearing about the potato famine when I was a teen and thinking how horrible it was that people didn't have potatoes! Yeah, not bright ;) I only learned this at AAR and I am sure that I will promptly forget such information in about a year.

I have friends that remember a stanza they had to memorize in school while I forgot these things the minute they were no longer any use to me.

I do notice anachronistic stuff in contemporaries though.

Great Topic
CindyS

BJ Deese said...

Yes great topic, Kristie! I am probably more artisic. I don't rush through, but if there is a big error, it will definitely throw me out of the story. You can really tell when an author does thorough research.

Jill said...

I am one hundred percent an artistic reader (and writer, LOL). Nice post.

Candy said...

I'm generally a technical reader--that is, if the book concerns something I happen to know about. A book that confuses hard disk space with RAM and ROM will almost definitely peeve me a little. But if the writing is good enough, I'll forgive the technical errors. Jennifer Crusie, for instance, made a HUGE factual error in Strange Bedpersons but I still enjoyed the book greatly so the mistake was barely a bump in the road. On the other hand, a mediocre or poorly-written romance with technical errors will irritate me even more than books of the same quality that don't.

One technical aspect that I find very, very hard to overlook is the consistent use of anachronisms. Characters from 19th-century England saying "Oh yeah?" or medieval serfs saying "pariah" drive me to distraction, and it's pretty rare for these to be isolated instances--an author who will commit those sorts of mistakes will either have characters who consistently sound like Californian yuppies or switch wildly from somewhat authentic period speech patterns to modern vernacular.

Alyssa said...

I'm more of an artistic reader, though I do get frustrated by contemporary speech in historical books. Otherwise, though, it has to be a pretty obvious anachronism for me to notice it. And if the characters and story are good, I can overlook a few anachronisms.

Alyssa

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