Infogenium is Sharing the Shallows

Every week this year, I ask avid reader friends, family and their acquaintances to share their thoughts about their reading.

Who else could be my second guest than Infogenium, long-time friend, colleague, co-writer, romance reader and co-blogger who started Shallowreader with me back in 2010. I then became a megalomaniac and kicked her off the site and yet she still agreed to answer my questions. Ahhhh! Friendship!

Infogenium incognitoInfogenium/@infogenium

Information Manager incognito

Can you describe yourself:

I love reading, family, coffee, fresh bread, modern technology and learning things.

What is your main reading medium (books, blogs, games, news, etc) and how much time do you spend reading a week?

Books, twitter, blogs.

What or who is your joyful reading (guilty or otherwise) pleasure?

Mills & Boon “Kitchen Sink” stories. Ie, anything that is completely OTT, I am looking at you Lynne Graham BUT my guilty pleasure is books that are rated DNF in reviews or people have very strong reactions to and not in a positive way  – I willingly buy them to see why people loathed or were so bored by them that they couldn’t/didn’t/wouldn’t finish them.

Do you have a favourite storyline or plot? And do you have one you will not read?

Very liberal in my storylines – as long as they are well written I am happy to try them.

What I won’t read? Horror. It is way too predictable. And fanfiction.

Why do you/don’t you use a public library?

USE – Just love the environment and what the library represents to me,. Somewhere to escape and learn.

NOT USE – Not quick enough with titles.

Do you RUI*. If so, what?

If I do RUI, and I am not admitting to it, but it wouldn’t be actual reading but instead listening to audiobooks, as less strain on the senses and in that situation crime or mysteries.

Do you have a favourite reading spot?

The train or in bed.

Toilet reading: 
    a) Never do it 
    b) Only my own books/phone/tablet/ereader
    c) Anything goes – library books, friends books, cornflake packets.
    d) I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that I may incriminate myself.
    e) Other _________

DON’T DO IT – HYGIENE OCD ISSUES

Romance fiction of the Happily Ever After (not the love tragedy) kind – are you a Lover or a Hater and why?

I like the HEA but don’t mind a well written bittersweet ending or one that suggests a HEA but isn’t a conclusion.

What would you give up reading for**?

Literally nothing unless a life of someone I love is at stake…maybe not even then…

Can a romance/crime/super/etc hero be the driver of a hatchback?
Sorry No. 😉

*Reading Under the Influence
**I like stranded prepositions

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How much do I hate the romance “homage”…

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a popular book written in days of old will be paid deserved accolades. There is also a further truth universally known that some of the accolade will be in the form of an homage, be this academic or fictional. The fictional is where an author or aspiring author wishes to continue the “story” of their beloved character and to take the reader beyond “The End”.

I cannot strongly impress on you, gentle reader, how much I loathe the “homage” novel. I don’t want to know what Darcy & Elizabeth are having for breakfast, or that Jane & Rochester are sojourning in Bath or that Cathy has come back to life and searching for Heathlcliff, or that the Bronte siblings are now zombies terrorizing their village,  or that Marguerite and Percy are separated and seeing other people…

Why such a market for these “classic” updates is beyond me. A book ends and that’s all folks, done, finished, complete. The charm or wonder of a book is that you don’t have to read about the mundane or minutiae of daily existence. The wonder of a story is the unknown future in the happily ever after. Do we really need to to make these wonderful and yes, even dull stories into more than they need to be.

It is actually quite fascinating – the psyche where some readers don’t care about “the after” of a books story resolution  and those that are really interested in the “what happens”. I wonder if any studies/papers have been done on this?

Why can’t a man, sound more like a man…

OK I have another soapbox moment, yes another one, (an aside – I love how Twitter has become my soapbox of choice, so many people get to hear about my idiosyncrasies and likes and dislikes – bliss!!) – female authors who write male characters that “think” and talk like “chicks”.

I don’t want to read about male characters who only belch, put their hands down their pants or just grunt monosyllabically but what I would like is a guy to sound like a guy.

It is jarring and completely annoying when a male (of all sexual persuasions) character spouts out something so incongruous that it makes me scratch my head and say “Huh”

What guy would:

  • Check out a girl and think about how her accessories really compliment her overall theme: “Her pencil skirt looks really wonderful with chartruese pintucked sheer blouse and finished off beautifully by the stiletto slingbacks”; or “Her violet eyes glimmered and cornsilk hair blew softly in the wind”
  • Utter the following lines: “It stirred my loins into fire” or even better “This is all such sweet sweet torment” or  “Goody’ or my fav “What you needed was someone to meet you where you are emotionally”
  • Sit around a pub/bar/club talking about their requited and unrequited feelings in the romance stake. This point has caused some dissent (well amongst 3 of us) Vaveros & her Huzbah disagree with me and believe that guys do this, I on the other hand must only know troglodytes who would prefer to chew off an arm than ‘talk’. So let’s leave it up to you all to decide.

Really? Really , truly? I am not saying that guys are emotional pygmies or don’t have style or don’t love, they just don’t talk or think like females.

To me a sign of a good author is one that can write internal and spoken dialogue of both the male and female characters so well that you can’t tell if the author is male or female – they are just a writer.

Not so successful authors are the ones who wrote the lines or concepts that I pointed above – no I am not naming, not only am I a shallow reader I am a scaredy cat and don’t want to be flamed or hated on by fans.

Successful writers in this: PD James; Elizabeth George; Minette Walters; Linda Howard; Jaci Burton; Robin Hobb; Victoria Dahl;  Anne Stuart; Laura Kinsale; Loretta Chase and so many others.

The sign of a not so good author is one that can’t make their characters ‘believable’, we know they are fictional but to be remembered and to be talked about, characters have to somehow come to life for the reader.

Room by Emma Donoghue (you will need to wear sunnies if reading in public)

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Room

by Emma Donoghue

a shallow reader review

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Please avert your eyes and ears if you can’t bear to see a grown woman sob…

I just finished this book after a number of starts (picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down) because I knew it would be a devastating read.

Emma Donoghue, wow wow wow!!

I read through the story with a constant dread, aware of the pain and horror both in the concept of Room and the freedom from Room.

She has created an exceptional  book with the construct of the story emotive and concise. The characters of Room are very real to me in the pacing and the voices of each. There is a liveliness and happiness despite the horror scenario.

Ms Donoghue’s characters inhabit a world where her characters  react and speak in a manner they have developed for themselves – their constructs of language; imagination; reality.

I am simply in awe of everyone inhabiting the novel:

Jack – a boy who knows nothing other than Ma, Room, television and Old Nick (shudder) but who is loving, joyful , smart and inquisitive, Jack is simply a delight

Ma – her depiction was delicate and respectful. The author didn’t make her a superhero, just someone who found strength to cope in a unbelievable nightmare scenario. For her to survive her ordeal but still have the capacity to love and nurture is beyond incredible, for real for real.

Extras – the rest of the characters seem to react in an honest way, unsure, awkward, ultimately normal.

I don’t want to reveal too much, for despite it’s emotional depth and complexity the story is written simply but I will say that the “ending” was very impressive – 3/4 of the way through the book I worried how she would finish (as we have all read books where the story seems to overwhelm the author) – and was really anxious but nope she kept it consistent and honest.

I simply loved this book and think it’s one of those stories that will resonate with me for a very long time.

TBR…the never ending

How can I have so many books to read but yet keep buying or wanting to buy more? Seriously, I have 35 ebooks, and at last count, 22 hard copy books to read. These are books I ‘desperately wanted’ So, logically you would assume I would READ them…

But, oh no! That isn’t the case – but why is this so?

I have thought about this and decided there are a number of reasons:
* Sometimes it’s because I need to be in the ‘mood’ for certain books (f the ‘mood’ to read a particular genre isn’t there then the book is a no-go zone),
* Sometimes I am saving a book, especially if it is a special read for me (you know who you are),
* Sometimes I am in a glomming mode and will only read a particular genre/story line. I love glomms! Thankfully, I have no partner, children or pets to get in the way,
* Sometimes I have just lost interest and will get around to it at some point (yuh, like that is ever going to happen and we all have those books)

So what do other people ‘do’ with their TBR books? Or do people just ‘do nothing’ and let the pile get higher and wider?

Everything is new again

When you read a great deal, you are very aware that fictional genres have a precept or process that they adhere to and ideas and story lines get re-constructed. yet a clever writer can take any ideas or concepts and make theme evolve and fluid.

I read fiction because the thrill for me is seeing  how an author approaches a standard construct and makes it their own. There are two authors I am currently loving – their voices and world building are extraordinary – but their ideas are to me, ones I have read before. I don’t mean a vampire or plucky heroine or a moody ennui’d hero etc, I mean, what appear to me to be obvious story arcs and character profiles – let me clarify though I don’t think they are copying or plagiarizing the previous books. In my mind they are “refreshing” the storyline.

I don’t demand “all shiny, all new” (in fact, I love the downtrodden plain jane heroine or the skanky evil hero turns sort of good (in fact there are not enough around) or the really smart and sharp detective or the youth who is born with a destiny to slay the evil overlords!!)

The fascination for me (and awe) in how a concept can be re-used to completely create a new story.

Hypothetical dilemma

You purchase an ebook from the publisher and you don’t realise that the format is not compatible to any of your portable reading devices other than your pc.

But someone tells you where you can find a pirated copy of said ebook.

  • Do you grab this book – remember you have paid for it (receipt & proof of purchase etc)?
  • Do you contact the publisher and start them thinking about multi-format options?
  • Do you report this pirate site?

My 2 bob worth is that until a multilateral model is developed covering format and regional restrictions there will be more “greying” of peoples’ ethical stance.

What would you do?