In the August 2021 newsletter we asked readers what they love about reading the most.

Here are the responses:

Sam: You know, it’s hard to describe what I really love about reading. I guess it would boil down to two points: 1) learning things that I never would have learned otherwise and that I feel really affects my life in some way. There is so much data I’ve learned just by reading books – it helps me, it helps others, it’s fascinating. Then 2) the thing I probably like even more than that is when an author is really able to bring you into the experience of what is going on in the story. You feel like you’re really living the person’s life, experiencing what they are experiencing, and it just gives you a whole new level of understanding of something that you may otherwise never experience in your own lifetime.

Nancy: What do I love about reading? Depends on the type of book. If it’s nonfiction, it is very satisfying to learn something new, to have that sense of “Wow, I didn’t know that!”, or to discover something new to try out or to work on.

If fiction, I love it when coming out of a “reading coma”, I have the sense of ‘what time is it, where am I?”. Getting that caught up in a story is one of my favorite things about reading!

Tom: Hi Graeme. Reading a book offers one the opportunity to shut out the world, at least for a while. I find it difficult to just sit back and contemplate a story. If it’s mediocre, I just want to get through it or get to a point where I can give up on it. If it is good to great, I want to keep reading, full speed ahead. I guess I could think more about a particular book if it was to become some earth-shattering experience for me.

Ginny: I don’t think I read The Long Walk (King), but I could have; I did go through a phase where I read all the Bachman books I could find. Yes, it does sound like the kind of book I would be impatient with – LOL!

What makes me sit back and just enjoy reading? That usually happens to me when the writing is just terrific in the beginning of the book; not that the book necessarily hooks you in, but the writing is so good, I just kind of relax, and think, “It’s okay, I’m in good hands.” That happened to me with Memoirs of a Geisha, The Buddha in the Attic, This Is How You Lose Her, and The Client by Grisham.

Or it happens after a particularly stunning passage, usually in a non-fiction book, that makes me think, “OMG, that’s brilliant reporting (or a great story); everyone needs to know about this!” Usually I wish I could just cut out the last three pages I just read and post them online for everyone. I remember there were passages like that in Caste, and The Premonition by Lewis, and in Facing the Mountain.

Oddly and unfortunately, it never happens to me after reading an ending with a twist.

Susan: What I love about reading, that is besides all the wonderful things Graeme has already mentioned… Reading means I always have something satisfying and stimulating to do and since I always have many books at hand I can choose which book suits my mood at the moment.

Robyn: First of all, I love your site and your newsletter. I haven’t written in a while, but I look forward to receiving the emails each month. You and i had an exchange a few years ago about some books and I always think about writing you, and answering your reader questions, and then time gets away from me. Unfortunately these days I don’t have too much reading time. I’m a single mom to 13 year old twin girls, one with autism and one with ADHD so life is very busy. The pandemic has been hard on them, and while I had hoped it would provide me more time to read, it really hasn’t. I tend to stick to the same few authors….Stuart Woods is my fave, John Grisham, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, and of course I just can’t seem to give up Danielle Steel even though the books are trashy. It’s a guilty pleasure!
What I love the most about reading is similar to you. When I get invested in characters, I never want it to end. I think that is why I love the Stone Barrington books so much….because I get to stay with the same characters from book to book, and he is great about bringing back random characters that appeared as someone minor, and then they become a character who recurs in book after book. Once I am invested in a character I hate to leave them at the end of a novel. That’s why I read more series than standalones for sure. I am really trying to encourage my girls to read more and foster a love of reading, but it just hasn’t happened yet. The one with autism definitely enjoys listening to books. We have a Dr Suess app that she can read, or have read to her and she really likes that one. My other daughter struggles academically and she finds reading too hard. She is so focused on the words that she has a hard time paying attention to the story, so I am trying to encourage her to try audio books. But of course it is very difficult to compete with ROBLOX! Once school starts again, I will build reading time back into her day. In the past I have been very focused on having her practice reading, but I have now realized that I would be happy if she would be willing to listen to a book. Baby steps!

Margot: When i read, the world outside ceases to exist.

Louis: Good morning, Graeme – I like all of it. Characters, setting, behavior(s), twists and story results. The prose is key for me. When I see a book which appears interesting, say at the library, new author, I read the first few paragraphs and if the “hook” is of interest, I check it out.

Otherwise, I’ve written three authors names from your mid/letter, will check them out at Amazon as noted above.

By the way, I especially liked the Mickey Spillane quote, great, just great.

Kim: Your comments in the “Your Thoughts” section are my thoughts exactly. Which is what brought the In Death series to mind. I fell in love with the characters (probably why I read them twice – I wasn’t ready to not have them in my life!) Lucas Davenport is my “do the right thing” character. I don’t even know how many times he got fired or demoted – he always found a way to make a path for justice to prevail!

No matter what I’m reading, I’m always looking for the perfect sentence. Just one sentence where the words are chosen and strung together perfectly to create the feeling or the picture intended. It’s relatively easy to convey an idea with a thousand words, less so with ten. I love it when I come across these.

Kat: what i like best about reading is i can escape my own life and troubles (if the book is good and i can really get into it)

Donald: What do I love about reading? I do not know where to start but I love reading as it allows my mind to be expanding as I imagine the world and events being presented to me and I become lost in the story. I create the story in my mind and expand beyond the story as I continue reading and I become lost in the thoughts and words. I love a good book series as I reference what I have learned about the characters and bring the story to life in my mind. So I love reading as it keeps my mind active and my imagination alive as to what can be.

Marie-Claude: Two things actually.

When a book transports me and I completely forget where I am (yes, once missed my train stop that way). 😊
When an author chooses an event that took place and changed history for the first time and wows me (for example, the pandemic and Louise Penny’s The Madness of Crowds)

Andy:,/strong> This month’s thought, “What do I enjoy about reading?” Simply put, the most important thing to me about a book – whether audio or in print – is how I feel while I’m in the story. By that, it mostly boils down to how the author deals with the genre, how they craft the tale (plot, subplots, subterfuges, etc.), and how they tell the tale (the actual word smithing).

I don’t mind an author who’s strong in one or two of those three points and makes an effort otherwise, take for example an Agatha Christie – she varied some plot lines until they were as comfortable as your favorite quilt, but the rest of her crafting was of sufficient skill the resulting variations remain fresh and inviting even today.

I think of books as forms of art just like painting or sculpture. While there may be innumerable landscapes and figures, you can tell if you’re in front of a Thomas Kinkaid or Michelangelo – and especially when you’re not. On the same page, however, there’s great enjoyment coming across an unexpected Simon’s Cat or a well-done but rough folk art whirligig! Each has their attraction, and I can appreciate them all the more for their diverse genres – but each still tells a whopper of a tale because somewhere along the telling it made me feel something.

Chris: Hi Graeme. What do I love about reading books? I’m sure that my reasons are very similar to other readers. The really well-written books transport me to another time and place. The characters, when fully developed, become real to me and I am taken along on their adventures. At certain times in my life, books were a life saver. I could escape the pain and turmoil I was experiencing and I could get a break by living in another world. I can’t imagine a life without books and I welcome them in any form–in print, e-books or audio books. Long before there were books, there were storytellers. I’d like to think that the love of stories is in our DNA, that’s how important it is.

Louise: What do I love about reading? Any author who is so good that the characters seem so real that you cry if one dies. That is the biggest compliment I can give any author: You made me weep for someone or something that wasn’t even real.

Max: What do I enjoy about reading? Just slipping into the fictional universe of a good novel does it for me. Another place, another time. But what makes a really good novel? Well, here are four criteria that enhance my enjoyment of reading:

1. The basics: a novel has to engage the reader with a logical story, a sensible plot, believable action, and well-motivated characters, all consistent within the author’s fictional universe. These elements should quickly combine to make you want to keep reading. And at least one of the characters has to be likeable!

2. The book must be well written. Grammar must be correct, within the fictional universe. The author’s style should match the intended audience. Each sentence should be a pleasure to read; every paragraph should flow logically. A great novel will flow like a symphony, alternating quick movements with relaxed passages.

3. The story should be concise and focused. Every character should have a purpose; every word should have a point; every plot element should have a bearing on the story’s outcome. Random stuff should never happen. No extraneous material should be included, such as needless background information, plot elements that are unresolved, or characters without purpose. (Most novels fail this criterion!)

4. Finally, great fiction will teach you something, give you a new idea, or make you think about things you already know in a different way. True, many thrillers, mysteries, action extravaganzas etc. can be exempted from this last criterion — pure “escape” novels can be real fun. But great, timeless novels endure over generations because they make their readers better persons.

So these are some of the things that make me keep reading. Keep up the good work!

Jan: I enjoy reading mysteries and thrillers to figure out “who done it” and why. However, I really enjoy reading about all the different destinations there are in the books I read. I love to travel. I’ve been to around 80 countries. I like books set in places I’ve been. For example, I recently finished The Exiles: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline. It started in England and ended in Australia…Tasmania. I’ve been there, but had to stop reading to research the location where I had memories from my travels. Sometimes I pick a book based on its location in Europe or Asia or Africa just to remember what an amazing world is out there.

Tom: Hello…why do I read books? To find answers. Answers to life and existence. Most books, even fiction, offer clues and tidbits that can be contemplated and considered as possible insights. I know I will not find the truth until perhaps after I have passed.

I come to each book, or article or essay or story with great expectations. I feel that one must have a questioning mind and try to see things beyond the status quo. Reading is part of a life long search for something I cannot definitely define

Elizabeth: I love books where I don’t know the ending until I’m at the end. I’m reading An Ambush of Widows now and have no idea what to expect next. I also love books that transport me to a new place, especially since traveling is so challenging now.
Thanks for the newsletter.

Terri: You asked what I love about reading …

I grew up in a difficult home: parents arguing, mother developing a mental illness, handicapped older sister. It was practically impossible to have friends over. I just never knew what might “explode” in my house. I started reading quite young and by the time I was seven, I was walking weekly to the library 10 blocks away, carting home almost a dozen books. The characters in those books became my friends. The authors of those books took me away to far off lands. For a few hours every day, I lived in a different place where the troubles home sounds were muted and where my experiences were only limited by imagination.

Teresa: My Dad was a big proponent of reading. Any book my brother and I wanted, my parents bought as they were cheaper than toys and kept us out of trouble. Reading was also a good babysitter. My Dad suffered from MS and many times, when he was hospitalized, my brother and I would sit in the waiting room reading while Mom was with him. Thus, reading for us became a way to deal with crisis during our childhood into adulthood. When stressed these past six months due to my Mother’s sudden death and disposal of her estate, I have read over 100 books. Reading is an escape as well as a soothing rite to keep my world in balance. I also can’t stand to be bored😁. Thank you for your newsletter. I look forward to it every month.

Robin: I SO love reading your newsletters! I save them for a day off when I can enjoy reading them uninterrupted with a cup of coffee. Many of the patients where I work bring books in to read, so I always recommend your site to them for entertainment and more inspiration.

I just finished listening to Hail Mary by Andy Weir, narrated by Ray Porter. I loved it so much and had so many questions, I listened to all 16 hours again right away. Ray did such an awesome voice for Rocky. Much better than I could have imagined it if I had been reading. I find myself wanting to respond to others using Rocky’s responses, but no one in my immediate group has listened to or read Hail Mary yet so they wouldn’t get it. The audiobook made me happy, happy, happy.

Renni: I know I mentioned in a previous email that I don’t usually read all the books in a series – one right after the other
(no need for you to remember that, I’m sure you are inundated with emails).
I just discovered Anne Cleeland and The Doyle and Acton series. This is one of the more unusual books (series) I’ve read
and I have become obsessed. I didn’t want the first book to
end, so I moved on to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th. I read the 5 books within 5 days, nothing else got accomplished around
my house (the cats were fortunate to have been fed!!).
As book number 5 ended I realized that I was getting too familiar with the characters and I knew what they were going
to say or do before I read it so I forced myself to move on to another book. There are 13 books in this particular series
and I’m not sure how long I’ll last before going on to book #6, etc.

Regina: I haven’t written in quite a while but I recently discovered a new author and I’m really excited about him. Of course, he’s not new to the world! It’s J. Robert Kennedy. When I looked him up on your Order of Books website I was thrilled to see how many books he’d already written. I’ve read the first 2 books in his James Acton series. I don’t know if you’ve ever read any of these, but I describe them as crosses between Tom Clancy and Indian Jones. I discovered this series via BookBub. I was able to purchase the first 3 books on Kindle for about 5 bucks.

Now I’m reading his first Zander Varga Vampire Detective novel which is very good! I’m wondering if he has plans for writing more in this series? When I looked Kennedy up on your website I discovered the vampire title. I’ve always loved vampire stories with the remorseful, misunderstood, trying to do the right thing vampire character. And his vampire origin story is very unique!

Anyway, just thought I’d share. I don’t recall ever reading about him in your newsletter, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t mentioned him. If you find out about his intentions for the vampire series maybe you can let me know.

Rebecca: I started reading when I was 4. I haven’t stopped but now read more ebooks than paperbacks, although I love reading English family sagas in paperback. They are hard to find though!

What I love about reading is that when I start a book, I get a feel for the overall picture of the book. Then as I read, I actually feel I am watching a movie. It’s like a Downtown Abbey feel as I relish the plot and the characters. That’s what reading is to me.

If I start a book and it’s not grabbing my attention, or it’s just not quite ‘right’, I just delete it on the Kindle app or just stop reading it in paperback. I don’t want to waste my time reading a book that isn’t grabbing me when I could be reading a book that enthralls me! My husband feels he should read a whole book even if it isn’t something he likes. I can’t even understand that and we’ve been married 49 years! Go figure!

I love the site and I love it even more when you share your personal life and what you’ve been up to.

One thing though, you are Canadian, how come more Canadians don’t win that gift card? I am disappointed not to see more Canadian province initials!!

Maureen: What do I really enjoy about reading? – I love how the characters become like friends. I love series and getting to know more about the characters as I progress through the books. I don’t care if I can’t work out who did it (crime books which are my favourite), I am just as happy reading the book if it is well written and finding out at the end who the culprit is. I like it when there are a few layers in the story and have them woven to a satisfactory conclusion. I just love where reading takes you – on a ride to other places and admiration of an author who has a great gift and imagination to entertain me

Jenny: last month i couldn’t think of a response to the pet peeve question because mine was the same as yours – characters with unnecessarily similar names and i couldn’t think past that. after reading other peoples responses i realize i do have something to add.

to start with i must say the i love the lord of the rings by tolkien. his characters grow and learn as the book progresses and they go through the struggles of the adventure they have been cast into. i have a pet peeve of similar genre books where all is solved by finding a magic ring or the arrival of some magical spirit or some other nonsense that requires nothing of the character and adds nothing to the story. know what i mean?

if you don’t read a lot of fantasy this will not be as obvious but it does happen in other kinds of books.

Kelly: I think that I love any book that makes me immerse myself into the world of the book. I love such a variety of books that I cant choose just one particular genre, though mystery/thrillers would be near the top. I love walking away from a book feeling like I have met the characters before, even if it leaves me wondering about what happens next to the character. I also enjoy a good historically based novel. I dont want to get so far into the historical details that I feel like I am reading a schoolbook, but I do enjoy walking away with real information from the time period. A good example would be Eternal by Lisa Scottoline. I had never read a novel from the Italian viewpoint of WW2. Or at least not one that was memorable. I also love Jeffrey Archer’s Clifton Chronicles or Follett’s Century Trilogy. Lots of characters that pull you into their world and leave you writing the next part in your head when you put the book down. Accuracy matters, but wrap it up and around and through a great story. Don’t bog me down in too much detail, but I definitely want the backstory concerning the time period and location. It really adds to the book for me. For me, books have always been a movie in my brain. That requires more than just the characters.

John: You asked why we love to read, man, the reply could be a novel of it’s own. Mostly though, my mind is so much better of seeing the book as a movie than any movie made by Hollywood. If it’s a real good writer then I just get so lost in my mind time is of no essence. I’m getting personal here, but there is nothing like soaking in a tub reading. Before I know it the water is down right cold and time to get out. Sometimes life can be so wonderful.

Linda: I understand your frustration with the Louise Penny book. Sometimes she sets up in the beginning with a lot of character descriptions. I actually love that about her, because I am so into her Three Pines characters that I want to read all about them. Her books are not what I would call thrilling, but just good old mysteries. There have been two in the series that I was not as fond of. One was “The Beautiful Telling”, which was set in a monastery. The other I cannot remember, but it was not set in Three Pines for most of the book. Three Pines is what I like about her books. Speaking of thrilling, Brad Thor’s book “Backlash” is probably my favorite of his so far. I love this book because it is not riddled with Russian and foreign names like some of his books. I still have two to go after this one. He is definitely one exceptional author. Now as to your question of the month. What do I enjoy about reading a book? I am a stay at home person for the most part, so reading is a way to escape into another realm. Even as a teenager I enjoyed reading and I actually had a more active life then as I do now at 72. lol I am mostly into mystery and thriller books, but occasionally read a good tear jerker or romance. I do stop reading sometimes just to soak up what I have just read and I always have mental pictures of what my characters look like. So much so that sometimes those characters show up in my dreams. Not always a good thing, as I have trouble sleeping while I am trying to help my book characters. Very frustrating for me. Thank you for your newsletter and thank all of the readers comments. They help me find some very interesting books. Keep up with the Penny books. I think you will get very attached to the characters. I see you as a Ruth and chicken lover. Take care and stay healthy.

Joyce: What I love about reading:
I love even the anticipation of curling up in my favorite chair and delving into a new release of one of my MANY favorite authors or discovering a new favorite author. Getting lost in the story, trying to figure out the plot and meeting so many interesting people – some you like and some you do not. What I especially love is when an author sucks me in so that I find myself laughing out loud or wiping away tears. Once in a while, the tears turn into sobs and then that author has me – hook, line and sinker. A great day is reading a book you dread to see end. Can’t imagine my life without books and always feel sorry for someone who tells me they don’t read!

Phoenix: Switching gears, you ask what I enjoy about reading. I think that depends on why I’m reading. If I’m reading to be educated, then I want clear, concise information presented in a way that makes me interested to learn more. But if I’m reading for pleasure, I want a story that is captivating, something that encourages me to imagine the setting and lose myself in the story or the time period. I want a story that is so interesting I’d rather read than do almost anything else, including watching the telly.

As you know, I’m particularly fond of historical fiction. Especially historical fiction that is well-researched, and preferably has its roots in fact. For example, the books in the Peaceable Kingdom trilogy by the late, great Jan de Hartog come to mind. These books of Quaker history are so well-written that I can lose myself for hours in them. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the first book, The Peaceable Kingdom, is probably my favorite book of all time. I dare not open it before I loan it out, or I will sit down and read it all over again. It’s one of those “if you were stranded on a desert island, what book would you want with you?” sort of books.

I’m currently reading the time-travel series by Irinia Shapiro. As soon as I finish one, I buy the next one (straight from my Kindle, thank you). Even though each book has a definite ending, I can hardly wait for the next installment. Now, I have to admit, I could live without the sex scenes and often just skip over them. I know, I know. Other folks seem to like it, but they don’t really do much to help the story along, imho.

So, for me, reading is an escape from everyday life, a way to travel to other places and see other things, and live someone else’s life from my easy chair. Thanks for asking!

I feel like I can travel to many places and get to know many people of different cultures – all for a pittance and in the comfort of my home. Just wish I could read faster as there are so many great books and so little time!

Melinda: What I really enjoy about reading is that an author has taken the time to research a good topic (often historical WWII I confess) and construct a good story to take me away into another life. There’s not a day that I am not reading and it is the best time spent.

Deborah: My response to this month’s mailbag question is a little off topic but does relate to loveable characters. I use Netflix and recently came across the Enola Holmes movie which is based on the book of the same name by Nancy Springer. I fell in love with Enola enough that I immediately searched for more of the series as movies and was very disappointed when my search was fruitless. However, I did add Nancy’s books to my TBR list. I love watching movies based on books but never watch/read them back to back. I wait at least a month so I’m not confused by differences between the two.

HH: If listening to an audiobook is reading then I am IN. I am a Professional big truck driver. I was introduced to audiobooks from my mother who was a librarian. I then would purchase abridged books from a kiosk at truck stops. I am completely hooked on Audible. I have my favorite authors and when those authors use a narrator like Scott Brick, Ray Porter, Jay Snyder, etc, those narrators bring each and every character to life. I am guilty of superimposing myself into the hero of the book and have literally passed by an exit because I was so engrossed in the book. My dear wife and I use the books and choose one to listen to while traveling on vacation. Usually the Black Hills in SD, USA.

I am grateful to you for this past year I had thought I had listened to all of the authors afforded, but have found new authors and narrators like Author Ken Bruen and Narrator Gerry O’Brien.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: What Do You Love About Reading?

One Response to “Reader Mailbag: What Do You Love About Reading?”

  1. Bob D'Guggliemo: 3 years ago

    “What Do I Love About Reading”— “That I Still Can”! For years now I have been getting monthly treatment (steroid injections) in my remaining good eye. But now I have found that the eye is also degenerating and I will soon rely upon audio books. While audio reading has vastly improved in recent years, I shall miss ‘the feel, the smell, and the ease to suddenly reread a previous sentence, quote, or paragraph’.
    So, fellow readers, enjoy the gift.


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