Read with your heart?

A Reader’s perspective on how to read

I was recently told that I read with my heart. I’m not sure if I was offended by that statement or not. Would you be if you told that you read with your heart? I mean my sister always told me that I wore my heart on my sleeve every time one of my girlfriends broke up with me but does that really translate into the type of reader I am? Wouldn’t it be better to be told, you are a smart reader, or I really appreciate how detail oriented you are, or even you are a thoughtful reader? But you read with your heart? What does that mean??? I’m so confused! Doesn’t everyone read and get involved in the story? I think our lesfic authors do an amazing job of creating believable characters, one’s with whom I can easily relate. So I guess when they felt emotions and experienced life’s ups and downs I didn’t think that was unusual or special. I thought that was normal.

Communicating about our amazing lesfic authors, I think, is incredibly important. That is why I try to leave a review for stories that I have truly enjoyed and appreciated. Even if you don’t think you are a writer or can express yourself well with the written word, I think making it known somehow is such a small gift compared to the huge gift our authors are giving us with each story they write. A post on FaceBook with something like, “Just finished this story by [fill in the blank] and it was awesome!” Everyone knows what awesome is and I’m sure an author would not be hurt by seeing that on someone’s post. Or even going so far as to email the author or message them and say thank you. I’ve tried to do that a couple of times. I sent a message to Diane Marina after reading her story How Still My Love and saying, “I seriously want to climb into the book and try to understand why someone like Ricki would make a play for someone in a committed relationship and then just kick her butt.” And it was true! That Ricki character was such a jerk and needed a serious butt kicking. Not that I would do that, but I would find someone who could dang it!

I was lucky enough to have an electronic conversation with Cate Culpepper in regards to her writing after I finished her A Question of Ghosts that went along the lines of, “Am I going to get scared with Windigo Thrall? Reading a blurb it sounded like someone was possessed and trying to kill her lover. Not as scary as ghosts, but I could see the potential for me to be sleeping with the lights on again!!” Granted I am a practicing scardey cat and there was definitely a certain spookiness about Cate’s stories that freaked me out! Same with Linda Kay Silva’s Man Eaters, “Holy Cow Batman! I couldn’t sleep last night thanks to your zombie story!! I started it yesterday since Kim was coming home and she could protect me, but I was still jumping at every sound!! Awesome story telling so far! (lots of shivers though!!)” But that’s just normal reactions to crazy creepy stories. Right? That’s not me reading with my heart is it?

Or when I wrote to Amy Dawson Roberts after reading her second Rennie story, Scapegoat and telling her, “I do have to admit that I was a little peeved with you with the condition that Rennie was in when the reader first met up with her again. I kept thinking, I loved Rennie’s strength and here you have her being an out of shape drunk!” That was just being honest. I mean Rennie was a totally kick ass character and then she wasn’t. Hmpf! Is being peeved reading with the heart though? That would be like when I wrote about Ann McMan’s Bottle Rocket, “Ann McMan has a true talent of writing comedy and I appreciated it while laughing at the restaurant, waiting for class to start, on the bus, and all those other places where people just ended up staring at me thinking I was a crazy laughing lady!” was reading from the heart. That doesn’t make sense does it?

I just like to relate to the characters. Sometimes they scare the crap out of me, sometimes they make me laugh until I cry, sometimes they make me want to punch them in their face, and sometimes they make my heart hurt. Is that it? Is that the reading from the heart? Does anyone else read this way? Is it a good thing do you think? What characters or lesfic stories get your heart involved?

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21 thoughts on “Read with your heart?

  1. Thanks for this. I often don’t review books because I don’t know what to say. It would be something like “I really, really like this book”. I tried at one review sight and couldn’t come up with a large enough word count so gave up. But I see that it is very important to at least let the author know somehow that I enjoyed their book!!

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    1. Sharon some of my reviews are so dorky! Our lesfic authors are giving us something so amazing though and it’s so awesome to be able to give back to them. When I get stuck on what to say though, sometimes I just Google how to write a book review and look at the topics/questions they suggest answering. I really like relating to the characters so just letting the authors know what character you liked best and maybe why (because she is a bad ass!!) should help with the word count! LOL!

      Thanks for reading!!

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  2. Yes, yes I do. I used to watch TV sometimes to relax (no time anymore) and I was one of those that yelled at the box. Now I yell at books, laugh from deep in my belly, fall in love, and want to kick someone’s ass (even though I can’t at age 56 and a bit slight of frame). You are not the only one! I always leave reviews now when I like or love a book and I like and love a lot of books! I just don’t have as much time to read as I used to so my cue is very long now!

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    1. Annette your line about the TV made me start laughing as that is Kim any time we are watching TV! I laugh at her doing that and she laughs at me when I start making comments out loud regarding the book I am currently reading. LOL! That is awesome about leaving reviews- my still needing a review list is almost as long as my to be read list! And I think some of your time should be going toward writing a sequel. Just saying!! Thanks for reading!!

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  3. Hi Erin! If that’s what reading with your heart means, I’m right there with you! Sometimes I find myself laughing out loud, crying when the book is sad, and when my character’s heart gets hurt sometimes I feel that as well. Sometimes it’s very hard to let wonderful characters go after you read the book and I end up hoping for a sequel! I don’t think reading with your heart is a bad thing, I think authors are writing with theirs’ so wouldn’t they enjoy knowing that their characters found a place in your heart as well? 🙂 Keep on reading with heart! 🙂

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    1. Lindsay- For the most part I’ve stopped trying to NOT cry in movies and that has just carried over into books as well. Thank you for being another reader who reads with his heart. And you are totally right- it is awesome that our lesfic authors are writing with their hearts so we should be reading with ours. Perfectly stated!! Thanks for reading!

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  4. I joined Goodreads last May, and wasn’t very active with reviews at the time. I was mostly using it as a way to track my own preferences and reading progress, get recommendations, etc. I’d essentially withdrawn from all other social media due to a pretty scary cyber-stalking/harassment episode, and was really hesitant to get involved with anything of the sort again. And then an author sent me a message thanking me for reading her book. Who does that? I hadn’t even reviewed it! So I responded, thanking her for being brave enough to write books for a very small market, giving voice to so many girls, teens and women who feel alone in a world that rarely reflects their lives or feelings. We’ve since exchanged around forty messages. I also started sending thank you messages to authors whose work touched me, and I’ve now written 85 entirely-too-lengthy reviews and collected a small tribe of friends whose opinions I greatly respect, all because one person reached out and said: “Thank you for supporting my writing. Your readership is much appreciated.” Funny how a few words can make a difference.

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      1. *laugh* It didn’t even occur to me that anyone would recognize me! I occasionally run into other Jennas on a variety of lgbtqi forums and blogs, and about a billion on sites like Jezebel/Gawker, so I thought I’d just fade into the noise. I guess it’s quieter than I thought in literary lesfic circles! (Probably the whole library vibe we have going). I love your reviews, too, by the way. Also, your glasses! Happy Valentine’s Day, Tara. I hope it’s so lovely for you that you don’t notice this reply until Thursday.

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    1. Jenna- that is an awesome story! Of course I’m dying of curiosity as to who the author is!! But for all the authors I’ve reached out to, most all of them are incredibly friendly and open in regards to discussing their work and the genre. I’m so glad that you are writing reviews! That is awesome!! Thanks for reading!

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  5. You make some great points. I try to leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for all the books, especially the really good ones, I read. Sometimes I will skip a review if the book is bad or just doesn’t meet my expectations. I dabble in writing too so I sincerely appreciate when anyone takes the time to leave a review, hit like or share, send me an email or join my itty bitty amoeba of a Facebook writer page. 🙂

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    1. Samantha- I tend to do that as well, just focus on the books I like and review those. If it’s good it should be talked about, that’s my thought. And a lot of times if the book has hit an emotional button I’m liking it because I’m invested in the characters. I’ll look forward to picking up some of your work. Thanks for reading!!

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  6. Great blog and excellent comments. Yes, reader’s reviews no matter how short, are so welcome to an author. I love it when someone says something specific, about a character, or what happens to them between the pages. On the other side, it is hard to read a review that is killer negative without the reviewer saying why they didn’t like it. Give us a reason if you’re going to post a really critical review. But the absolute main thing is to read lesfic…it is getting better all the time and there are lots of talented writers out there.

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    1. Franci- that is so true! Our genre is amazing! I’ve said it before but when I first found it on Amazon I was able to flip through all the pages of books and could say that I’d read more than half of the selection. Now- not even close! LOL! I love it!! And yeah, the empty reviews don’t make much sense to me so I’m glad there is an option, at least on Amazon, where you can say if a review was helpful or not. Thanks for reading!!

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  7. Yeah, I’m like you (except not as articulate). I read with my heart or emotionally (I think that’s what ‘they’ mean). The second read of a book, I can be more objective to … grammar, spelling, is it really well-written or did I just overlook things because I loved the story/characters? I used to write reviews online (usually short) but I have a hard time expressing what or why I liked a book (I too don’t post ‘bad’ reviews), it seems so personal, subjective (I suppose like most reviews?). I want to be clear, explain about a book (I don’t know, like a ‘real’ reviewer maybe or a well-written term paper?), but I don’t think I can … I do read reviews, but usually take them with a grain of salt and I use them to see/read more then a blurb … what’s it really about or like.

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    1. Barbara- I totally get that. I was laughing at some of the reviews that I’ve written because they are so gushy and sort of dorky! But at the time it made sense and I think that is probably important. And I LOVE reading favorites a second, third and sometimes more times! Thanks for reading!!

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  8. I am absolutely a read with your heart kinda girl. I get depressed when books are finished. I feel ghe heartache when the protagonists are going through it. I sulk when love interesta get separated. Thats one of my favorite things about reading. Not just the escape, but the dive into someone else’s reality. I love being able to redecorate myself as a detective, or a witch, or a vampire even if only for a day or two. It makes me feel like i am part of a secret society. I cant imagine what the experience would be like if i didnt read with my heart. Here’s to all those who are also part of the secret society lol. I also love to review books and write the authors. I love that this age of technology can bring us closer to the people who help us get away for a while 🙂

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      1. I’m actually a little surprised to hear that this isn’t just the default for everyone. Isn’t the purpose of art to move, inspire and touch? Do artists paint because they want people to think analytically about the type of paint they used? Do dancers dance because they so desperately want the audience to logically deconstruct the experience? Teaching is definitely a valuable objective for fiction and nonfiction alike, but isn’t it easier to teach if the student is emotionally invested in the material? It’s obviously important for a plot to be intelligently constructed, for an author to write consistent characters and eschew contrivances, to generally pursue their writing as a craft to be honed rather than a task to be completed; if your reader doesn’t feel the experience, though, if they’re not touched by your effort, is there an author of fiction out there that would be satisfied with the result?

        I’m not an author of anything other than numerous forum posts, a bunch of amateur reviews, and more college papers than I want to think about (and, apparently, run-on sentences), but if I ever found the fortitude to sit down and face a blank page over and over again for the time it took to bring an entire novel to life, I know that it would be something I poured myself into, head and heart, body and soul. If, after all that, my readers had nothing to comment on but the story beats, I think I’d be crushed. Which is to say, yeah, I agree with you, Erin. My head may give me notes when I read, but it’s my heart that carries me to the last page.

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