Reading with Emotion

I don’t read with emotion. For some reason, the way I approach a novel is to get lost in story structure, get deep into the characters and what makes them tick, and try to imagine myself in their situations. I often fly right past the emotion – whether it be sadness, happiness, anger or humor. When people describe to me how certain books affected them, sometimes I feel like I’m missing something.

Each Christmas, Nicholas Sparks seems to come out with another book and each year his novel automatically goes onto my wife’s Christmas list. Sometime in January, without fail, I’ll walk into the living room and find her with the book open, dabbing tears from her eyes with a tissue. That’s never happened to me while reading. Granted, there’s not too much to cry about in the Star Wars expanded universe novels, but still…

One of my “test” readers for HISTORY AMENDED told me after she’d finished the book that she wanted to punch one of my characters in the face (I took that as a very positive review!). I’ve read lots of books, but I’ve never wanted to physically harm one of the characters.

Alright, I wanted to punch Arthur Slugworth in the face. But I read that book a long time ago. (Give me a “Like” if you know the reference!)

I do chuckle at novels when funny things happen – but rarely if ever end up in an outright laugh. The closest I get is probably Dave Barry’s novels (Big Trouble is still my favorite). But people have suggested novels to me that are “hilarious,” and while I may flip through them earnestly because they’re enjoyable, I rarely have an outward reaction.

As a result of my own proclivities, when I write I compensate and place extra attention on eliciting responses from readers – especially when editing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th drafts. I figure if I can make myself – who doesn’t read with emotion – have an emotion, I’m halfway there. I’m not writing tear-jerkers, of course, but when my readers tell me they laughed out loud, they were upset or they were uncomfortable, I feel like I’ve succeeded. There are two scenes in my novel, BORDER TROUBLES (available on Amazon Kindle), that make me chuckle every time I read them back, and I avidly hope the humor hits my readers at the same points.

So I’ve got myself diagnosed. Let’s talk about you:

How do you read? Do you read with emotion? Do books make you laugh, cry, stew for a couple days or worry about the characters when you should be sleeping or working?