In Defense of Book Readings
“Breathing, stopping, lingering on a certain phrase, giving a certain sentence enough breath. If you can do it properly the audience will listen to you. Read the work properly and introduce it properly, and I suppose the result of that is that someone might read your book.” Colm Toibin, as quoted in the New York Observer.
I came across two articles today that roundly criticised book readings– publicity events at bookstores, libraries…anywhere, really, in which authors read excerpts from their work to a rapt audience. Theoretically, this presses all the right buttons. People young and old enjoy being told a good story, and most readers I've met (myself included!) jump at the chance to meet an author they love in real life. So what's the problem? The problem, according to this article in the New York Observer and how to win a guy
href=”http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/PWxyz/?p=5670&utm_source=Publishers+Weekly%27s+PW+Daily&utm_campaign=5b64211d52-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email”>this blog on Publisher's Weekly, is that authors are quite often not the best public speakers, and so what should be a thrilling Encounter of the Reading Kind instead descends into a tedious hour of watching a painfully shy person on stage reading off a page (or more likely, a thick stage of pages). I think we can all agree that this sort of 'reading' isn't ideal, and is more than likely to put you off reading a book.
Having said that, though, I've been to a couple of really enjoyable book readings where the authors were engaged and entertaining, and the session ended with lots of lively discussion. And one of the best readings I attended was when I worked as a part-time tutor for really young children (like…5 year olds). I had the lovely opportunity of reading a history-themed children's book with them and then watching a short scene from a related movie, and they were the most animated reading-audience I have ever encountered! A little raucous, but all the better for it. 🙂 So whether for books big or small, here's my two cents wholeheartedly in defense of book readings!