Literature is ever-evolving. Authors are churning out new books with each day, in the hopes they’ll be applauded. They go on, they live, they die, they’re replaced. There is a never-ending list of aspiring writers, but all writers – young or old, new or existing, aspiring or acclaimed – have one thing in common: the reader.
And here I am. The reader who is in love with the simple act of picking up a stack of paper (that just-so-happens to be glued together), decoding letters and forming them into words, and falling in love with people I’ll never meet and places I’ve never been to. Each and every author relies on me and my kind to criticise their books, immerse their being in them, and tell their friends to read them, too. That is the cycle of literature, and a multitude of authors complete said cycle each day: they publish their début novel; they get feedback, good or bad; the word of their book is spread; they hit the best-sellers list.
Yet, there are very few authors with a place in my heart. However, the following authors do.
Award winning author of the Juliette Chronicals, I know of Tahereh Mafi due to her huge fame in the young-adult community. Her début novel Shatter Me is crafted around metaphors, and is truly a beautiful read.
Frankly, it isn’t Tahereh Mafi’s books that I love, but the writing within them. Her writing is very lyrical, metaphorical, and extremely unique. With each sentence comes a tumble of metaphorical beauty, making you work for the answers, and think through the beauty for the true meaning.
Despite this, she also manages to make it so that her writing appeals to a wide audience, young and old. Multitudes of people fell in love with the Juliette Chronicals because of her unique writing, yes, but also because of her ability to tell a dystopian story, and relate it back to 21st century, ‘1st world’ problems.
Author of the internationally best-selling series The Mortal Instruments (amongst others), I love Cassandra Clare for her work in the Shadowhunter world. Frankly, I have never felt the inclination to pick up any of her other work, for it is the Shadowhunter world I adore, and I don’t want to taint my rose-tinted image of Cassandra. That being said, I feel as though I am still entitled to note her as one of my favourite authors, due to the simple fact that I have read 18 works of hers thus far, all of which transpire in the same world.
Firstly, I love Cassandra Clare because her writing is classical. Long sentences, complex characters, love stories, the works. Yet her writing – being YA – has other factors: her writing is astoundingly comical; her writing holds an almighty message; her writing makes you fall in love with each and every character.
And that’s what I love about it – it’s not classical and boring, it’s classical and effortless. To read a Clare novel takes 20% of the effort it does to read a Jane Austen novel, for I can relate to the characters to the point that I feel as if I know them. I can read a Clare novel quickly or slowly, yet finish equally heart-touched with every read.
Another thing I love about Cassandra Clare’s books is the fact that each one addresses common issues in its subjected reader’s generation, despite being set in a mythical world. For the Shadowhunter world is written for the young-adult community, it localises on common problems young-adults go through: LGBTQ themes, and the tough task of ‘coming out’ to traditional parents; extreme changes one can go through at a young age; falling in love with someone you shouldn’t, and falling in love with a friend; ultimately being lonely, and struggling to make it so that you’re no longer alone; the task of proving women are not inferior to men, and can do whatever the hell they want if a man can do the same.
The fact that Cassandra’s writing is enjoyable and meaningful at the same time? Magic.
But it isn’t just when she’s writing that she’s an inspiration; when she isn’t writing, Cassandra is communicating with her audience. She tailors her work to her audience’s problems, and – essentially – gives them what they want. Not only that, but she listens to her audience, and understands that everyone has problems, and help them through that.
It’s not just her writing that makes her a beautiful soul, and simultaneously one of my favourite authors.
Best-selling author, Stephanie Perkins has only written 3 books, all of which took me only a day to read on a sunny beach in Spain. That fact alone says a lot, for I am a rare marathon-er of books, and rarely even read books particularly quickly, yet Perkins grabbed my attention from page one, and kept me interested for all 300-and-something pages.
Frankly, Perkins’ writing isn’t astounding. It’s not classical like Cassandra Clare’s, nor is it lyrical like Tahereh Mafi’s, yet it is the only writing I’ve come across that has truly made me feel something. I laugh out loud at her books, I sob at her books, and she manages to give me unshakable butterflies when reading about love, for she depicts it so well. Perkins has captured love so well throughout all 3 of her books, that it feels so real when reading about it, it’s almost as if you’re a fly on the wall.
And I love that. I love that she makes me feel something. And I love that she reassures me – along with others – that there’s someone out there for everyone, no matter how long it takes, or how random the location.
Ask yourself this: what is reading?
The simple answer is the complicated definition:
Reading is a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning (reading comprehension). It is a means of language acquisition, of communication, and of sharing information and ideas.
The more complicated answer is what reading means to you. Here is what reading means to me.
Reading isn’t just about cognitive processes. But nor is it about the metaphors, or the complex structures, or the critical acclaim. It’s not about how long ago the book was published, or how smart you will look if you read it, or how classical the writing is.
Reading is about feeling.
Feeling happiness. Feeling sadness. Feeling anger, strife, despair. Feeling anything that the words have singularly made you feel. Reading is the understanding that someone has emptied the contents of their heart, soul, and mind onto the page before you. Their tears become your tears, whether jerked by misery or joy.
And that is beautiful. That is golden, and a process to be treasured.
So no, Jane Austen is not my favourite author. Nor is Charlotte Bronte, or Charles Dickens, or any other classical author, because classical literature doesn’t make me feel the way modern literature does. And that’s OK. It may be vice versa for you, and that’s OK, too.
And no, my favourite books are not 800 page epics, nor are they all best-sellers, and nor are they ‘beautifully’ written. Sometimes the best books have the roughest plot-line, the least defined tone, and the least perfect writing. Sometimes the best books are also the most hated. And that’s OK. So long as you read what you enjoy, who is anyone to call you wrong?
Reading is about appreciating good writing, yes, but it’s also about appreciating how a book makes you feel. Whether it’s written with children, teens, or adults in mind, reading is about feeling, and feeling is about connecting with a person, and sharing that experience. In this case, the author.