What?! I’m a Literary Snob?

Even though my local Borders only had one copy of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat — and it was lurking somewhere in the “back” unable to be found by the store employee (would they treat Dr. Oz this way?) — I ended up leaving the store a happy camper having stumbled upon a terrific sale: Buy One Already Heavily Discounted Book & Get One Free. Yippee! Two books for only four bucks!

One of the books, Invictus, I figured I’d read before seeing the film, and the other was a chick-lit-type book that I imagined I’d hand over to my friend Viki after I was done.

Well, yesterday I decided to take a break from not reading Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and started the chick lit book.

I didn’t get to the end of the first page, and I had already scribbled notes all over a Post-It. (I used to scribble all kinds of things in my books as I read them, but have since learned that if this book is ever going to have a life beyond my shelves, nobody — friends, family, flea market shoppers — cares what I think.) This is what I wrote:

  1. What?! This book opens with an alarm clock ringing? Isn’t that How Not to Start a Novel 101?
  2. I’ve already counted 5 adverbs, and I’m only on page 5, and the book starts on page 5.

OMG, I exclaimed in my head, so as not to alarm my kids, I’m a literary snob!

Wait a minute, I thought. Clearly, if you take a look at my bookshelves, I most certainly am not. There is an eclectic — if not bizarre — assortment of reading material to be found: Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stephen King’s On Writing, David Baldacci’s Split Second, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Fast Track Networking by Lucy Rosen (with Claudia Gryvatz Copquin, of course), just to name a few.

Then what am I? Somewhere in the middle, between the National Enquirer and War and Peace, which is where I imagine most people are. I’m a gal who can appreciate a beautiful description, but doesn’t want to require oxygen in the middle of a sentence or consult a thesaurus on every other page.

The problem is, of course, that I’m a writer. And when you’re a writer — as my book clubmates know — it’s very difficult to enjoy a book just as a book. You judge that book by what’s outside its cover — by what you’re writing, what you haven’t gotten published, what you have gotten published, what you’re writing professors have told you. I imagine it’s like being a filmmaker. I mean, is it ever possible for those people to really enjoy a film again? Aren’t they constantly looking at the lighting, the acting, the staging?

Truth be told, the adverb thing doesn’t really bother me, as I explained in my blog post, In Defense of Adverbs, although unnecessary or poorly chosen adverbs are cumbersome and tend to stop me in my tracks, making me lament what could have been a stronger verb. I think I’m just all caught up in waiting mode, having finished Baby Grand and being anxious to see what happens. Once I gave myself a good talking-to, telling myself “so what” if this novel reads more like a blog post, maybe that’s the point — Lord knows, I go adverb-happy in this blog — I was finally able to sit back and enjoy the book, which I’m now halfway through.

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