Readers Need Friends, Too
Thanks in part to the self-publishing revolution, authors have never had it easier. Companies like Amazon make life so simple: write a story, format the Word document, upload to a website. Anyone can do it.
Unfortunately, because anyone can do it, everyone does do it. There’s too much crap out there, and I don’t have enough time to sift through it. I can’t afford to spend my valuable free time trudging through a few chapters of garbage, just to discard the story and grab another. I need every book I read to be great.
So how do I accomplish this?
These days, I don’t read anything that hasn’t been suggested to me by a close friend. And this had better be a close friend with whom I know my tastes are aligned. Reading time is as much about efficiency as it is about enjoyment. That’s the sad world I live in, but it’s the same world that lets me write stories that you can lose yourself in.
My wife and I are certified homebodies. If we can think up a reason to stay in the house and hang out together, that’s what’s happening. As such, a huge portion of my friends are online friends. Fifteen years ago, such a statement was frowned upon as nerdy, and I’d be condemned as a loser. In today’s world, it’s perfectly acceptable and normal to maintain deep relationships with people we’ve never met. Hell, some of us find it more comfortable to build meaningful relationships with folks online because of the inherent physical separation involved. The friends I talk to the most are people I’ve only met once or twice (or never) in person. Mostly videogames are the common bond.
Looking back at the collapse of certain “in real life” friendships I’ve endured in the last five years, I can’t say I blame anyone for looking to the Web for meaningful contact with another human being, and that brings me around to the whole point of this post.
I don’t like reading a book and then having no one to talk to about it.
Admittedly, I’m a bit of a loner, and I’m perfectly happy spending entire days by myself. BUT, I do love talking about books I read. So how can I talk to people about my favorite read when I don’t know a lot of literate people? Well, I’ve discovered something important: Reading doesn’t have to be a solo enterprise.
Tell your friends about the books you read. Think you’re the only one who indulges in the sins of paper and ink? You might be surprised by who among your friends and coworkers suffers from severe book addiction. Or better yet, you can provide that gateway book that gets them hooked. That’s what I did with a good friend at work. All it took was a copy of OLD MAN’S WAR by John Scalzi, and my buddy was thrust upon a dark path into the depths of hell and potential bankruptcy-by-leather-bound-tome. And he’s never blamed me once.
In the spirit of sharing, we at The 4th Realm invite all of you to join our forums and check out the BOOK DISCUSSION section. You’ll find (and create) threads to talk about all your favorite books, even if they’re not written by us. We love books, and we want to know what books you love, but more importantly, we want to connect you with fellow readers who share in your addiction to the written word.
It’s simple. Start a new thread with the book name, and maybe a specific topic from said book. If you’re feeling particularly generous, throw a “SPOILERS” into the topic title so that others know what to expect if you’re giving away everything about the Red Wedding. Then capture your thoughts/musings/questions in perfectly grammatified sentences. Finally, wait for someone to join in with you and form an instant bond that will obviously result in a lifelong friendship and probably marriage and 2.5 kids.
Alternately, scan through the thread listings and find a book you’re intimately familiar with, or just interested in. Fair warning, though, spoilers may abound.
Unless you’re praising the merits of a racist manifesto, there won’t be any need for moderation. Not that any of you fine upstanding citizens would ever dream of doing such a thing, but we do meet some oddballs in our travels.
In closing, sharing your reading conquests via your favorite methods (Amazon reviews, Goodreads ratings, etc.) is always encouraged. Expand your own experience by connecting with like-minded readers, and stretch your boundaries by taking on a genre you’re not intimately familiar with. You never know what you might find.
We look forward to chatting with you!
Alistair McIntyre is the most exotic of all 4th Realm authors, especially if you’re into freezing rain and deep-fried chocolate bars. Check out his books on this website, Amazon, and anywhere else books are sold online.