Last month I wrote about starting a new project this year, which was to read at least one book a month. I'm happy to report that I've completed my first book! Took less than two weeks too, which makes me even happier.
I've never reviewed a book before, and I'm not going to do so here either. Instead, I just want to share my thoughts and what I've learned from finishing a novel for the first time in my adult life.
When it comes to watching a movie or a TV series, you have both a face and a name to remember a character by. In a book, you only have a name. I found myself backtracking and reading previous chapters on more than one occasion because I forgot who a character was. My friend told me this actually helps to develop a better memory. Without a face, we're forced to remember a character's name and who that character is. It makes sense, but I imagine it'll take some time for this skill to develop. Especially for people like me, who in real life, always remembers people's faces but never remembers their names 🤣
When I want to watch a movie or an episode of a TV show at home, I like to do so in one sitting. I don't really like being interrupted, so I usually need to set aside the time needed to finish watching whatever it is I want to watch. But when it comes to reading, I have no problem picking up my book, reading maybe a chapter or two, then putting it down and going to do something else. This also makes it a great way to take a break from sitting at my desk where I'm always on my computer. I can read my book for maybe 10-15 minutes, then I'm back on my computer again. This isn't to say I only read my book when I want to take a break. Sometimes I genuinely do want to read my book, but I like that it's also something I can do in short spurts as well.
Choosing a book to read
I didn't need to worry about which book to read when I started this project, since I already had "I, Alex Cross" from last year. But I've been to several bookstores to look for other books to read, and it was a bit of a challenge. I had no idea what books I wanted to read, nor which authors I would like. I had no idea if books were standalone or were part of a larger franchise. If I needed to read the books in sequence or if they could be read individually. I have a general idea of what genre I want to read, but even that isn't enough. With TV shows and movies, I can usually gauge by the trailers if I would enjoy it, but reading the excerpts on the back of books doesn't really help. Many people have suggested I look to Goodreads for suggestions, and that has helped, but I still feel like choosing a book to read is a bit of a challenge for me.
I noticed a few other things while walking through the bookstores too. There's a big emphasis on authors. Many books showed the name of the author prominently on the cover, with the title of the book in a smaller, less noticeable font. Not the same with movies or TV shows, where the writers and directors usually take a back seat. Also, books seem to age better. I could find books that were several years old that look brand new. The book I just read was actually published 10 years ago! Reading a 10 year old book won't exactly feel like reading a 10 year old book, but if you were to watch a movie that was 10 years old, you'd notice it right away.
Using my imagination
Similar to faces, there's no scenery for me to, well, see, when I read a book. Everything is described with words, and it's up to me to visualise it the best I can. I found this to be a rather unique experience. I visualised a police shootout which came after a car chase, I visualised crime scenes, but perhaps most interesting was visualising facial expressions and emotions. It takes some good writing to be able to visualise facial expressions, and to be able to almost feel what the characters are feeling. I have sci-fi and fantasy books on my list, so it'll be interesting to visualise whatever comes from those authors' imagination.
The writing is everything
There are a lot of components that go into a movie or a TV show. The director, producers, writers, the cast is possibly the biggest part of any production, then you have music, costumes, set design, CGI in some movies, the editing and foley artists, and a whole lot more. In a book, all you have are the author's words. That's it. Everything that goes into a movie or a TV show, replaced with nothing but words. I know it seems kind of obvious, but that places an enormous amount of importance on the author's ability to write. There's nothing to hide behind. In a movie, a bad story could be hidden behind CGI or a stellar cast, but a book? It's all in the writing. The story shines, and the author's writing ability is front and centre.
I'm quite confident I'll be able to meet my goal of reading one book a month this year, if not more. I'm already on my second book now, and I have my third on standby. I'm going to try and read different genres to make it interesting. Maybe I'll write another post once I've finished my challenge.