Tuesday, 11 September 2007

What Do You Read and Why?

"What do you read and why do you read it?

It has been reported that less and less people are reading. Over on Murderati they've talked about letting your characters say and do whatever they want, even if it's intensely graphic. This is what writers have been doing. So, is this why you read less or does it have nothing to do with it?"
Candace Salima asked this question of those of us who belong to LDS blogs. First, I have to say that if I read less than I used to, it is mainly a time issue. That said, I do find it much harder to find good books, and I tend to put more and more books down after a chapter or two.

As a teenager, I loved books by Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Higgins Clark, and Robin Cook. They always provided a great suspenseful story as well as the right dose of romance. Over the last several years, the trend I have noticed in similar books is that there is more bad language, more violence and explicit sex. I personally don't find any of this adds to the story. I always remember being told as a kid that people who resorted to using bad language and talking of crude things, weren't smart enough to think of a better way speak. I understand the argument that there are people in the world who speak that way and do those things. But I have also read books where you get the feeling of the character and worldly things happening without being graphic about it.

In the last two years, I have started reading less fiction published by the big publishing houses, and more LDS and Christian fiction. When I turned to these options, I found I was still getting great stories without all the bad language and graphic scenes that make me throw the book away. So I don't read less, I read different. I refuse to read books with bad language or graphic scenes. I don't think any story is good enough to make me sacrifice my standards. And there is a lot out there that is worth my time.


Ajoy said...

In doing so Stephanie, you can hold your head up high and the example you set for your children will not go over-looked. I'm impressed that you were strong enough to make positive changes. Good for you.

Personally, I never read much when I was a teenager. But when I did it was something from a General Authority or Prophet. Go figure? Weird- I know.

As an adult I'm the same way. I generally choose uplifting books from LDS authors weather it's fiction or not. I love books that make me think, authors that cause a desire to change my bad habits, books that uplift my spirit and I really like history or factual things. I have read a few books that haven't been LDS authors- but very few. Like you, I agree there isn't too much out there I feel comfortable trusting.

In a family home evening lesson I gave a couple months back- I shared with my family some statistics. {We are BIG nerds here. We love stats and facts!}

If you were to read a book a week {and some will} for the next seventy years, you would read 3,640 books in that period of time. A remarkable number, you might reasonably think, until you learn that there are more than 15 million volumes in the United States Library of Congress and that new books are spewing from the presses of the world at the rate of a thousand titles a day, which means there will be more than 25 million additional volumes in seventy years.

There is no time for trash or for reading anything in print that is not helpful and uplifting. As writers- especially LDS writers- let us keep this in mind.

Now, the changes you had made in your choice of books is what I've done with movies. I love movies- I used to watch a lot of R-rated ones too. For me, the choice I made to quit that habit and begin watching uplifting movies was because of the bad language, evil content, graphic scenes etc... I have thrown several movies away and have walked out of a movie theater many, many times. It's just not worth my time or damaging my spirit to be involved with such activities.

Ajoy said...

I just noticed something...

For your "Double Deceit" progress wasn't your number of words 0 as of yesterday and today it's 4435?

What in heavens name are you taking girl? I want some! Go Stephanie, Go!

Traci said...

Stephanie this is exactly why I started writing! So often when I found a book that sounded interesting, it contained more than I bargained for and I knew I didn't want my children reading those types of books Now we're fortunate that the quality of LDS fiction has greatly improved over the past two decades and we have so many wonderful alternatives when we want to read a good book.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

ajoy, I love that you and your family love statistics and facts. So do we. I still try to find non-LDS books to read and sometimes I come up with some great stuff. I think we need to support writers every where, and let them know when we appreciate something they have written, not just LDS. At the same time, I am a huge supporter of LDS fiction. I think that is why I am so excited about the Whitney Awards. They are trying to raise the bar for LDS fiction and make it so there is even more great stuff to read. Like you I also apply all this to movies.

Traci - I also started writing because I wanted to prove that good stories could be told without all the garbage. I have hundreds of books in my house, and I am always very careful that they are books the whole family could read.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

I have to clear up the BIAM thing. I started a book I had outlined several months ago. When I posted on the sidebar I hadn't looked at it yet. When I opened it up yesterday, I realized I already had the first chapter written. So I already had about 1800 words. Onward from here though :)

Ajoy said...

Ah, I see {said the blind man}.

A very nice head start for you. I was already into my novel as I began this BIAM too.

Keep up the good work!

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