I’m not a critical reader — I tend to read for the experience of immersing myself in a story, rather than to analyze the writing style and grammar and how effectively the author makes his point. There have been books that I’ve read that I loved but friends who tend to read everything critically said that they couldn’t get past the poor writing, which I may not have even noticed. I read in much the same way my husband watches movies — I can find something that I like about almost any book.

In the past six months or so, I’ve been really into John Irving — I’ve read Until I Find You, A Widow for One Year, and The World According to Garp, and I’m hoping to pick up more of his books while I’m home. One of my other favorite authors is Pat Conroy, but my problem with Conroy’s books is that it seems as though the same characters populate each of the books, just in slightly different forms. What I love about Irving’s books, in addition to the fact that he weaves a really interesting story, is that each of the three books I’ve read are so different. I also really like Salman Rushdie, although I admit that some of his books are a little weird even for me, with all of the surreal alternate reality portions.

For some reason, reading Irvin makes me want to write. Every time I finish his books, it makes me wish that I had ideas for writing books myself. Reading Conroy makes me wish I had grown up in a small town (without the psychotic father and suicidal sister/wife, of course), but Irving makes me want to create a world of my own and put it into words. I finished The World According to Garp on the plane yesterday (one of the many, many planes I’ve spent quality time with in the past few days), and for a good half hour later couldn’t bring myself to start a new book or talk to anyone, because I was still absorbed in the world he created in his book. That’s my favorite reading experience…to be so drawn in by the events of the story that I keep thinking about the characters and the world in the book after I’m done reading it. If I were going to write, I would want to create something like that — a world that people would want to keep thinking about even when they were done reading the book, and characters they would want to imagine continuing on in their lives after the end of the story.

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