answers from Diana

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Thu Apr 19 10:04:42 EDT 2001


>So I call Tanya Huff's books "light" because they aren't very complicated,
>they don't move me greatly, and I can't say I'm permanently the better for
>having read them.  This sounds like harsh judgment, but only if you assume
>that books are only worth reading if they are complicated, deeply moving,
>and lifechanging.  I laughed my butt off reading _Summon the Keeper_.  Isn't
>that worth something?

Heck yeah!  I can hardly wait to get it.  Especially it's worth 
something just ATM as I'm wading (slowly, painfully, and reluctantly) 
through extracts of Wordsworth's "The Prelude" (The 13-book 1805 
Prelude!).  A little bit of humour is sorely needed to leaven that. 
(IMO, OF course.)

>Ven mentioned her off-the-cuff scale of book seriousness from 1 to 10.  I
>have a similar scale, but it's a little more complex.  I rank books on four
>main qualities and average those numbers for an overall book score.  (Not
>literally, I don't read with a calculator in my hand, but in a general
>sense, my overall score for a book comes from how well or poorly it does on
>those four things.)  Specifically, I care about:
>
>theme--that elusive Wisdom of a book
>mental challenge--how hard I have to stretch
>craft--my fallible and snooty evaluation of the writer's technical ability
>emotional impact--how much it meant to me
>
>Numbers two and four are entirely subjective.  Number one is probably the
>most "objective," insofar as it represents how easy it would be to write a
>critical essay about the book.  Number three is sort of objective--you can
>cite rules about what makes good writing--but those rules vary in importance
>depending on who you talk to and what genre you're reading.

The first's the one I have a bit of trouble with.  Understanding your 
scale, and the objectivity/subjectivity of it, I mean.  And does 
character (which I recall your saying was important to you) fit only 
in number four, or in three as well?

I got a pleasant mental image of a little book-rating calculator 
busily at work, rather like the chances-of-success/survival 
calculator in the brain of the character in _Agent of Change_.  :) 
(Borrowed from Kylie, so I can't check his name.)

Hallie.


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