Friday, August 13, 2010

THe 3 Cs

Early last winter I read a particular book. And a few days ago I saw that a patron was checking out the same book. There are a number of things that made this read memorable for me. The first is that I read the book in pretty much three long sittings. I remember starting on a kind of dreary, washed out, snowy Saturday afternoon and finished the book the following Sunday evening just as it was getting dark. As a rule I don’t read this way. But with this book I did.

The title of the book is Born to Run and it is written by Christopher McDougall. Now what made the read so enthralling to me was that this particular work has all of components I look for in a book. It has the three Cs: crafting, characters and content.

Now, all reviews have subjective components. I am no different from anyone else. But what I do have is that I read a fair bit. I read across wide subjects and genre. And I also look for how well the author builds and develops her / his characters and story. I also look for those things you learned about in English Lit. like metaphors, symbolism, foreshadowing etc.

The first thing I look for is the crafting involved in the book. This can be as minute as the use of a particular word in a critical point of the book, or sentence. Yep, I also look at sentence structure when reading. Just how well are the strings of words put together? This builds to the next supporting structure the paragraphs and then to the chapter. If the detail to each word is there and you can find it in the sentence there is a good bet you’ll also find it in the paragraphs and then in the chapters. If the writer has taken care of the details in each sentence then it is a good bet that the whole book will usually taken care of too.

The characters you find in a book are often the most memorable parts. Now, sometimes a physical place can be a character but usually it’s the people that you meet who stay with you, so for whatever reason the author has connected with you through her / his characters. Maybe we recognize a bit of ourselves in the one of the protagonists or antagonists. (Yep, I sometimes use those terms when talking about books too.) Or perhaps we see who we would like to be or how we once were. But there, right between the covers we recognize the character ‘cause she / he is us.

The third aspect of what makes a good read is content. If the book doesn’t reach out and grab you then you might as well be vacuuming the house. At least that way you’ll be doing something useful so you can then go do something worthwhile or fun. What is interesting is that this third component is not dependent on the first two. It is a stand alone aspect of the read. Without it even the best crafted works with the most memorable of characters just doesn’t measure up.

Born To Run has the three Cs. I’m really glad I was on the desk the other day. I was able to reach back into my memory and think about the book. Not only did I remember the wording, characters and settings I also remember the way the book grabbed me by the neck, gave me a good shake and then took me along on a ride that lasted for over twenty-four hours.

See you at the Library,

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