I was contacted by one of my favourite bloggers, Rachel @ Rachel Poli, for a blog tour and I said yes without a second thought. I know a few of the names on the author list for this anthology, so I was quite looking forward to it. I love participating in blog tours in general, but when it comes to what kind of post to write, I was drawing a blank. Around that time my work was super hectic as well which is why I opted for a guest post. I’m pleased to announce that the editor of the Jozi Flash anthology, Nicolotte Stephens, is on the blog today to share some of her reading experiences from the perspective of a writer.
I hate this book, why am I still reading it?
Have you ever started reading something and you absolutely hated it? I’m one of those people who feel obliged to finish a book once I’ve started it, no matter how awful it is. Speaking to my uncle, who’s an avid reader and has been reading for close on 60 years, he imparted some advice that I found really useful:
When I start reading and don’t enjoy the book, I skip to the last chapter. Normally the book ends the way I expect it to, and I don’t spend ages reading something I don’t enjoy.
As a writer, I’m encouraged to read outside of my preferred genre, and even readers are often told to explore different genres. Doing so certainly has its pros and cons, but the constant expectation of doing so, leads to a feeling of obligation to finish when one picks up a book. There are instances where this has proven to be a really incredible experience. Reading Philip K. Dick’s, The Man in the High Castle recently is one of those. The style of writing really threw me off at first, and I struggled to get into the story. I kept putting it down and picking it up, slogging through the first three chapters and wondering why I even bothered.
Perhaps I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read and enjoy it at first, but having got through to the fourth chapter, I picked it up and settled in to try and finish it so I could move on to the next book. As a writer and editor, I often find myself analysing writing styles, experimenting with techniques and playing with words. I love trying to pick apart unusual writing, to see what the author was trying to convey.
In Dick’s short story, I was reading for pleasure, so I had my internal editor firmly locked away and was simply trying to enjoy the tale. It was proving nearly impossible, but that obligation to finish what I’d started was stronger. I decided to let my editor have free reign, and suddenly a billion light bulbs went off in my head. I was struggling, not because the story was terrible, but because the writing style was deliberately used to provoke a feeling of the culture and world of the alternate world his characters inhabited. And it was brilliant!
Without telling the reader what to feel or experience, without describing character’s emotions in minute detail, Dick left it up to me to figure out that the style was deliberate. The realisation of his intention left me feeling as though I’d experienced genius first-hand, and it was incredible.
Another book that comes to mind, with a similar experience, is The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas. Reading it felt horrendously difficult, but slogging through it allowed me to experience a world of philosophy and a student mindset I haven’t been exposed to before. It was fascinating, and overall the book is one of the most memorable novels I’ve ever read, if not the best.
Book clubs allow you the opportunity to explore a wide range of genres, some of which you may not necessarily enjoy. They also provide a sort of obligation to finish the book in order to partake in the discussion at the end. But coming back to my uncle’s words of wisdom, which I have to take as genius in itself: if you really struggle with a book, skip to the last chapter. Either it will be fascinating enough to make it worthwhile to go back to the start and read it cover-to-cover, or it will be predictable and you won’t have wasted time on a book you truly don’t enjoy.
It’s not obligatory to love reading, or to love every book you read. It’s not even obligatory to read if you really hate reading. What I do recommend is to experience as much as possible with the time and resources you have available. Reading is a cheap resource which opens gateways to different worlds, and while they may be worlds that you end up hating, sometimes it’s those that leave the biggest impression.
Loving a book is easy. There are so many out there to love. But it’s the ones that evoke powerful reactions that often remain in your memory. So my question to you is; between the books you love and hate, which ones do you recall in most detail, along with your memory of why you felt that way about it? I’d love to hear about your experiences of books you hated and why.
About the Author
Dreams and storytelling have always been a part of my life, and as a writer I know the pitfalls involved in trying to publish. This led to the creation of Chasing Dreams Publishing, where I aim to help other writers share their stories. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a story unfold on the page, and even more so when it gets published! After years working in the corporate world, I decided it was time to strike out and fulfil my dreams of writing full time. On a daily basis, I’m inspired by people who chase their dreams (whether or not they’re related to writing), and this inspiration translates to my stories, workshops and writing groups. Jozi Flash is a product of this inspiration.
About the Book
It’s not quite the Gummi Bears, but it certainly bounces around a lot.
Jozi Flash 2017 combines the talents of ten brilliant authors with one gifted artist, to bring you a collection of 80 flash fiction stories across eight different genres.
From a children’s story about the folly of summoning dragons, to the horrors held in deliciously treacherous ice cream, the authors take you on journeys that weave fantasy and folklore together alongside practical detectives and everyday tragedy.
With stunning artwork prompts by Nico Venter, these South African authors have created an anthology that will leave you breathless.
Download Link – http://chasingdreamspublishing.com/releases/jozi-flash-2017/
Authors and Artist
Ten talented authors and one gifted artist joined forces to create an anthology of flash fiction stories that embody the multicultural melting pot that is South Africa.
For more info on the individual authors, take a look at their author pages here: http://chasingdreamspublishing.com/authors/
Win free copies of eBooks by three Jozi Flash 2017 authors:
Beneath the Wax by Nthato Morakabi
1723: Constantine Bourgeois is a man of many secrets. Artisan by day, killer by night, he turns his victims into wax figures for his shop.
2045: Richard Baines works for the renowned Anthony Garfield Historical Museum. His mundane existence is a stark counterpoint to his fascination with serial killers and science fiction.
Constantine’s nightmares drive him to undertake a journey to uncover a long-forgotten secret. Richard’s research uncovers a company secret and the mystery of Madame Bourgeois.
Two men, two timelines, and truths that will only be revealed when they look Beneath the Wax…
Dim Mirrors by Carin Marais
Dim Mirrors is a collection of 39 flash fiction stories that open windows into worlds of fantasy and nightmare. Interwoven with images from mythology and folklore are the themes of love, loss, and memory. The comical “Not According to Plan” leads to more serious and introspective works like “Blue Ribbons” and “The Destroyer of Worlds”, while mythology and folkloric elements come together in stories like “The Souls of Trees” and “Ariadne’s Freedom”.
Sketches by Nicolette Stephens
Like art sketches, flash fiction stories are fleeting moments captured in a few hundred words.
In a world without men, the first boy child is welcomed as the saviour of his race; a cuckoo clock holds death and destruction in its beautifully carved figures; and a snowman holds a silent vigil of peace during war.
In this collection of 50 stories, illustrated with her artwork, the author delves into worlds of imagination and reality inspired by words and drawings.
Terms and Conditions
Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days, the organiser reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
What kind of stories do you enjoy the most? What is the one element that will keep you going even if the others are mediocre or badly done? Let me know in the comments section below. Also, don’t forget to check out the other blog tour stops and enter to win the giveaway!