What makes a great reader

Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.
Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window. William Faulkner

In every book or story we are reading – we are facing ourselves. As the great J. Joyce said: any novel you read is about you. To meet yourself, to learn more about your identity in the book you’d pick is what makes a great reader. It’s easy to say – this story is stupid, I couldn’t read it, boring, too many details, too much dialogue… Well, let me remind you of Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis – the book is written with an overwhelming amount of details, but what a beauty! Of course, I know the saying – life is too short to read a bad book, and I fully agree with that, but we often give up too easily.

Vladimir Nabokov said that a great reader rereads. Yes, you didn’t get it the first time. Yes, you hated it even more, the second time, but, finally, on the third – it wasn’t that bad at all.

I reread all the books I could, at least 14-16 times when I was younger. When I started at university, I’ve been so devastated by the number of novels I have to read; I decided that one time is enough. I understand now; sometimes, it isn’t. Sometimes we have to pick up the same book, again and again, to grasp all the nuances and flavors that the writer wanted to share with us, which we didn’t notice at first.
Without a doubt, with a tremendous amount of fiction and names on the shelves at the bookstores, it’s genuinely impossible to reread all of the books. To tell the truth, some are impossible to read. There are SO MANY books that bore me to death. I believe Nabokov would support me with this statement.

As we know, Nabokov hated all Russian writers (classic), except two: Gogol and Tolstoy. He liked some Chekhov, but not 100%.

Nabokov said that Dostoyevsky was “a third-rate writer, and his fame is incomprehensible.”
He called Henry James “that pale porpoise.
Philip Roth? “Farcical.
Norman Mailer? “I detest everything that he stands for.”
T. S. Eliot and Thomas Mann? “Fakes!
When Nabokov’s friend Wilson suggested that he include Jane Austen in his Cornell survey course on European literature, Nabokov responded, “I dislike Austen and am prejudiced, in fact, against all women writers.”

Some would say he was a jerk.
I don’t know… maybe he knew he could do it better than anyone else.

Nabokov said, “the reader should have a good imagination, memory, and a dictionary.” Should we listen to a giant in the world of literature?

I have rewritten — often several times —
every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers. V. Nabokov

The answer is obvious! ☕️😉📚

By the way, I changed Book Recommendations for November. Check it out – blog link:

  1. I recommend Vladimir Nabokov’s book Lectures on Literature (there are two volumes). Especially if you are some kind of handmade writer without any literary background. The books he is analyzing are classical novels, but I assume you have read most of them. If not – it’s never too late to start reading great masters, such as Dickens, Joyce, Proust, Flaubert, Gogol, Bunin.
  2. I recommend the book of River Dixon (pulp, horror, ghosts) – The smell of cedar  link Amazon US
  3. I recommend the book of Sabina Gabrielli Carrara (paranormal suspense, crime) – The Last Witch: A Seacross Mystery – link Amazon US

Next post – Author Interview. Sabina Gabrielli Carrara

Source: bostonglobe.com



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38 Responses

  1. I reread stuff too, novels as well as my own words. And I read everything as well. I’m not a prejudiced reader and, though I love dramas most, I’d read anything that catches my eye.

    And yes, I love Faulkner even more now. Don’t know about Nabokov though. Then again, we don’t have to love authors to be in love with their books.

    (I loved River’s novel too. It caught me off guard, I have to say, and I like when I’m so (un)pleasantly surprised as a reader.)

    Damn, Vic, I’m envious of your posts!

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Nabokov was from a wealthy and aristocratic family, and plus, he is a man of the older generation 🙂 his prose is excellent, his literary topics are bold, but the views on women are old-fashioned. I think we should respect him, though – he spoke his mind. A lot of people are ashamed or scared, or they feel uncomfortable speaking their mind… so they gossip instead. Or they hate (behind backs).
      Faulkner is an interesting author. I’d recommend Sartoris, and, of course, Intruder in The Dust (a story of a white boy who tried to save the life of a black man accused of shooting a white guy in the back). Considering… Faulkner was some kind of racist (he never believed in equality of black and white) – it’s a very DARING tale…

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Agreed! We don’t need to love author to be in love with their books 🙂 btw, I made River the hero of my Pearl-book… he is going to meet my heroes at the end, in so-called Nirvana lol

      AND THANK YOU! 📚💕☕️

  2. River Dixon says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve always been in the habit of rereading books. Shirley Jackson is someone I reread consistently.

  3. I’m going to take you up on this: Vladimir Nabokov’s book Lectures on Literature. I have little spare time to read, but I think this may be of value to me.
    Keep up the great encouragement! 🙂 <3 👍👌😎😎

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      It’s a heavy read if you r unfamiliar with Austen’s “Mansfield Park”, Dickens’ “Bleak House” & Ulysses (Joyce). There’s also Proust, Flaubert, Stevenson (dr. Jekyll) & others… Nabokov analyzing the books, heroes/characters, text, epithets, repetitions, descriptive details… he’s sharing his view & take* on it. This is not a simple book “how-to-write” 🙂 but IF you r familiar with the texts (novels), then you’ll learn A LOT 🙂 plus, it’s Nabokov’s lectures – you can be a student again lol

  4. You’ve tempted me with ‘Lectures on Literature’ Victoria… I’ll let you know if I follow up on it – temptation I find (at my age) a transient thing (usually down to memory!) And as Bojana commented, I envy your posts too.

  5. I usually wait for the movie to come out, but I have read some books.

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      😂👍well I love movies too. ☕️ but sometimes the books are better than movies 🙂

  6. Mireya says:

    What makes a great reader is the same that makes a great creative/artist CURIOSITY. It’s important to knwo what you enjoy to find it.

  7. alexraphael says:

    Not liking female writers 🙁 That is a nice quote about reading though. I wonder about whether to check a word immediately when reading. If the book isn’t great i’ll check it straight away.

  8. So many great books to read I’m afraid I no longer have the luxury of reading them twice. I love to do that but that old hourglass keeps dropping those grains. Fabulous post, VR. 😁

  9. Eilene Lyon says:

    I do like to reread favorites, but others, well, if they didn’t grab me the first time, then to heck with them!

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      …then you r similar to Nabokov:) I read that many traditional houses, and many authors sent him their work/novels/… but he usually dropped (in 99% of cases) after 5-10 pages

  10. Good post!
    I am a voracious reader and sometimes read books repeatedly I like. Among indian writers I like to repeatedly read YOU CAN WIN by shiv khera

  11. masercot says:

    It’s fun to figure out what makes a trashy novel a page-turner…

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      People 🙂 especially, new generation 😉🧐. I think they enjoying trash 🗑. Look what they r reading or top charts: about billionaires & mistresses 😂😅

      • masercot says:

        A few decades ago, it was Robert Ludlum with just one plot, he created dozens of books…

      • Victoria Ray NB says:

        I watched movie 😂 I never read the books. Well, then I believe ppl enjoy action, cliche & trash 🙂 all in 1 😉

  1. November 11, 2020

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