Usually, the sun glares through the gaps in the blinds covering my bedroom window, making it impossible to sleep past seven-thirty. Today it was raining so I slept in. What finally woke me were the squeals of my children. After lying in bed motionless to ascertain that the squeals were of delight instead of pain, I snuggled back down into my bed and pulled my book off my nightstand.
It was a reading day.
Every reader longs for a day like this. The kids are out of school, so we had no obligations, nowhere to be. They were unusually well-behaved and bothered me little, content with the novelty of playing with each other.
I emerged from my room, just for a few minutes, to make a cup of roobios with honey and vanilla almond milk in a cheerful floral mug. I brought it up to my room and set it beside me. Then I retrieved all of the pillows my husband and I own, six in total, and cocooned myself in comfort. I pulled the super-soft, royal purple, microfleece blanket my husband gave me for Christmas over me and read for five hours straight. The sound of the rain against the windows deadened my kids’ voices downstairs.
It was everything that I had always dreamed of. Except for the book.
Long ago, I took an online reading personality test. A recent google search turned up dozens but I couldn’t find the one I remembered. The lost test identified readers based on what they were looking for in a book: plot/action, language, ideas or characters.
I was in the character-driven camp.
I loved the quiz because it helped me realize why I can’t stand certain well-loved books like Wuthering Heights and Madame Bovary. I found a common theme in my reviews of books I don’t like. “No redeeming characters,” I say over and over again.
Heathcliff and Catherine make me want to bang my head against a wall, neither of them deserves any happiness, but I can’t get behind either of the Lintons. No redeeming characters.
Emma Bovary deserves every bad thing that happens to her but I don’t feel bad for Charles either, he’s a moron. No redeeming characters.
Are these books bad? Certainly not. They’re perfectly successful for the author’s goals. I just hated them.
Today I read a book with rich descriptions, a book that extols the virtues of reading and storytelling. A book lover’s book. A dreamy, compelling read with twists. (I love twists).
After hours, when my kids came up and asked if I was planning on feeding them a proper meal, I told them “hold on! only twenty more pages!” When I absorbed the final twist and the impending consequences, I slammed the book closed feeling deeply dissatisfied. No redeeming characters.
Which camp are you in? What makes you like a book?