Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Readings & Books On Tape

Yesterday, a friend made the suggestion that I should give a reading at an upcoming picnic. I was rather surprised and given the expected audience of non-romance readers, I declined. But even if it was in front of a whole group of romance fans, I don't know if I'd feel comfortable doing a reading.

Reading has always been for me, a solitary pleasure. I learned to read at a very early age and have always enjoyed hiding away with my books. I don't think I've ever attended a reading either. Nor, actually, have I listened to a whole book on tape.

What about you? Anybody given/attended a reading? What did you think about it? And what about books on tape - do you enjoy them?

Maybe I need to widen my horizons, and I definitely to intend to try out a book on tape soon, given that I can listen to it on my own. But I still can't get my head around the idea of attending a reading. Is the magic of the book still there when you're surrounded by others and the book is being read out loud? Opinions?

17 comments :

frankengirl said...

Hi Nalini - :)

Well, coming from theatre, I love the communal and “live” experience of sharing words! However, since wonderful actors (not me) perform the actual reading, I’m completely “off the hook” in that respect.

As far as books…I've only attended non-fiction readings and that experience has been delightful! But I expect it’s quite different than hearing an excerpt from a novel read aloud (particularly if one isn’t familiar with the storyline).

I enjoy books on tape, but I do know what you mean about the “solitary” or private/personal aspect of reading a book – in which part of the *magic* is your own imagination weaving its way through the story (without being influenced by pictures or sounds).

JLB said...

Being somewhat of a hermit, I generally don't seek out public readings in libraries and bookshops (or any other public gatherings for that matter). :)

However, I do enjoy a good poetry reading. My favorite kinds of poetry readings are the ones in small venues, such as coffee shops or small colleges, where you get a great mix of readers from all ages, backgrounds, and abilities sharing their own work or a favorite piece from another author.

While I am currently unpublished, I have been known to spout off a poem or three given an open microphone and a small crowd. It’s not that I have a fear of large audiences, but I’ve found that with the smaller, more intimate crowds, I really feel like my words and those of the other readers are actually being heard and processed. One of my favorite experiences is glancing at the audience while reading, and seeing someone with their eyes closed, just listening.

As to books on tape... I do like them, but only use them from time to time. They were essential to me in reading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley when I was a teenager. It helped me to keep “reading” while continuing to work on other projects at the same time.

Still, there is a lot to be said about the intimacy of the reader and her/his book. When there is no audience and accompanying expectancy and viewer interaction, it’s up to the solitary reader to decide what s/he hears in the words.

Perhaps you also might enjoy the smaller venues? Reading in public seems like a great way to help spread the word about your material.

frankengirl said...

Ah, yes, I agree with JLB about "smaller, more intimate crowds" - this is one reason I love "black box" theatre because it's very intimate and personal, like inviting people into your living room in a way, and having an opportunity to discuss the play afterwards.

JLB - I love that you'll "spout off a poem or three given an open microphone and a small crowd" - :) I haven't been to poetry readings myself, but I've always been curious about them, particularly "open mike" style.

Mel Francis said...

I live in a small literary town with two independent bookstores. Romance is looked down on and in the book stores it's actually got only 1 shelf--and they call it Popular Fiction. I ask them all the time why the most popular fiction is only given one tiny display.

No answer.

Anyway, I said all that to say that there are readings here all the time. My husband has attended several and actually enjoys them. John Grisham is from here (Oxford, MS--Faulkner's Hometown) and he usually comes every few years. They love "General" Fiction and "Mysteries" but there has never been a Romance reading here.

I hope to change that when I get pubbed. Except that I don't like to read aloud. [g]

I do love audio books. I love to download them to my MP3 player from Audible.com and exercise while listening to the story. It really takes my mind off the fact I hate to exercise. LOL

Emma Sinclair said...

I think I agree with you. Reading is something I do alone and for pleasure.

I don't think I'd like doing a reading (especially since I wouldn't want to say half the words I write in my erotic romances). I'm not sure about listening.

I want to get lost in a book and if I'm listening, chances are I'm probably doing something else, and then I wouldn't get lost, so the fun would go out of it for me.

Whew, ramble enough there?

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I think there may be a small bit of a performer in me because I like to do poetry readings. I especially like getting the applause. I do have stage fright just before... but ummm... there is nothing like having 20 or 300 people clap.

Kristen Painter said...

When I was in college, one of the biggest fears and greatest joys was participating in the reading nights we used to do. (Try reading a poem you've written to an audience that contained not only a multitude of your professors and fellow students but Joyce Carol Oates.)

Would I do a reading when I get to be published? In a heartbeat. It's like riding a rollercoaster. Scary but well worth the trip.

Kendra Clark said...

I like both. Mostly I listen to Mainstream books on tape, especially if I have a trip planned.

I save my romances to read.

Diana Peterfreund said...

I don't think romances do well in "readings." Usually you want your reading to comprise some very exciting or very funny scene, and you don't, for instance, want to pick a sex scene. A lot of great banter works if you can do voices really well, but voices can backfire on you and make you sound pretentious and/or ridiculous.

I think the best romances for readings are the one with significant subplots. So maybe not Desires, but your single title?

Nalini Singh said...

Hey Frankengirl :)

That's a good point about theatre. I love live theatre too, but I think that since plays are written to be performed, I see them more as visual/public entertainment ie. to be watched/listened to, as opposed to the more personal aspect of books.

Does that make any sense?

Nalini Singh said...

Lol on the hermit comment, JLB. I, too, have hermitlike tendencies ;)

I've never heard a poetry reading but I can see how they would work - good poetry often moves like music and is a pleasure to listen to.

I do agree that readings are a great way to spread the word, but I'm not sure I could pull it off! Perhaps I should gather some hapless friends and make them guinea pigs. *g*

Nalini Singh said...

Mel - why do people do that with romance? In a recent comment on another list I'm on, it was pointed out that a list of books meant to get people reading including no romances, when they're the most popular books in the world. Grrr...

Good idea on the exercise front though - maybe that would actually motivate me to get out there and do it!

Nalini Singh said...

Emma - I have the same fear but in a different way. Instead of doing things, I tend to think a lot while I'm listening to something and I'm afraid I'll miss the magic, as Frankengirl put it.

Nalini Singh said...

Cynthia - got to admit, the feedback is a rush. I've done some public speaking and it's always nice to get that kind of applause. :)

Nalini Singh said...

Wow, Kristen, tough audience! Just out of interest, if you got published, what part of your book would you choose to read?

Nalini Singh said...

Kendra - I'm thinking of trying out the trip thing when I get back to NZ and have a car again. Do you find you get distracted by the drive/from the drive?

Nalini Singh said...

Diana, I agree - romances have so much emotion and it's hard to get that through out loud. It needs to be felt as you read. Also, there is the problem that I tend to burst into tears at the sad bits and a sobbing reading would probably not go down well.

Hmmm, maybe an excerpt from the ST would work but if I did anything like that, I'd pick the start. I'd think it'd be very easy to lose an audience that didn't know the rules of the world governing the story (esp given it's a paranomal).