I don’t care if you think you’re the biggest fan of my favorite book. You’re wrong. And here’s why…
You want to know the magic of books? It’s that every book is yours. Allow me to explain. When an author writes a book (I may just be speaking about myself; if so, just change the generalization to references to me), he or she is trying to give life to a story floating out in the nebula of our brains. I don’t care how much you plot, plan, or plead, the story you write will never achieve the vision you held in your head. So we do our best because we want to share our vision with the reader. And notice how I wrote “the reader,” not “the readers.” Of course authors want many readers; hell, we would all love to hit the lists, but when we speak about those who enjoy our work, we tend to speak in the singular. Yes, we are trying to reach many, but each book can only reach one person at a time.
What I take from a book is different from what you take. Yes, we can both (all?) love the hero, hate the villain, but when I’m reading it’s just me and the page. When I’m in a book (and I would say I am in a book), every image is mine. Yes, the words create them, but my mind pictures are different from the author’s and different from yours. When I love a book, it doesn’t matter if someone can beat me in a trivia contest over its contents, or can name every fact. The only thing that matters is how I respond to it. Because it’s now mine. The book, its story, the characters, and my experience with them. Mine, mine, mine.
As an author I can tell you it’s hard to let your book go out into the world because part of letting others own the book is that some will not like it. Their experience will be unsatisfactory. They will think the hero stupid, or the heroine weak, or the villain too over the top. Unfortunately, those are valid responses as well. Remember, the book belongs to the reader.
And thus the magic. When you pick up a book, you bring yourself to it. Your responses are yours—you don’t have to justify them, or support them, or debate them (although if you can support your arguments in a debate and like that sort of thing, it can be fun). When a reader says he or she is the book’s biggest fan, he or she is right, even if there are thousands that say so. When I’m reading or rereading a favorite novel, it’s my book, and I am the biggest fan. Of course I’m the biggest fan (or biggest detractor), because the story I read/experience is different from anyone else’s; it is mine. It is unique.
And that’s magic.
Books I’m reading now:
The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks
Honor’s Price by Alexis Morgan