Tag Archives: reading

Tre sekunder and my writing class

I have just finished reading the fifth book about Ewert Grens; Tre sekunder (or Three Seconds, as it’s called in its English translation), written by the two Swedish crime novelists Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström.

Now, what to say about it? The story is scary. But the whole novel is slooooow up until a certain point where the adrenaline just explodes and it gets intense for 100 pages or so.  Just to slow down again. I’ve read the four books prior to this one and I’ve enjoyed them all. The books all have different themes (trafficking, incest, death penalty, people living underground and now drugs and police informants) and as a reader I truly believe the research the authors have done. Even though many events seem unlikely and foreign, I believe Roslund&Hellström when they tell me they base their books on real people and real events.

But reading this fifth book of theirs wasn’t as enjoyable as reading the others. I hated the language in which they let sentences run on and on and on with commas instead of breaking them up with punctuation marks and capital letter. I found strange passages where people didn’t behave in a logical manner. One example is when a man opens an envelope and takes out five different objects. He places them in a row in front of him. He takes the first three objects and looks at them properly. Then makes a phone call. And waits for an answer. Then, and not earlier, he glances at the fourth object. He takes it up, realizes what it is and goes to check if it functions. This means leaving his office for a bit. Then, and not earlier, he looks at the fifth object and states what it is. He checks to see what information he can get from it. Now, this is not what people do. If one gets an envelope with five objects in it, one takes them out and states what they are before making phone calls and leaving your office to check one object’s functionality. Right?

And the whole book is written in third person but in two or three places the perspective changes and the characters starts to think of themselves as “I” in a way I find disturbing.

So, where the other four books like this when it comes to language and writing technicalities? I don’t know. I know I didn’t curse my way through the pages (as I partly did with Tre sekunder). But I haven’t taken them out from the bookselves to check. It could be that the other books are more properly written, but honestly I think it’s a result of me having another mindset. I read texts in another way now. I’ve always been a grammar police, but with my classes in Creative Writing, I’ve also started to pay more attention to perspective, to plots, to descriptions of people and the settings, and other foundation stones of fictional work.

Reading has become a different experience to me now. And I hope it means that I’m learning new things. Or at least that I’m bringing old knowledge back into the light.

I wonder how taking a photography class focused on visual communication will change the way I look at pictures?


Audiobooks vs “real books”

In the last 6 weeks, I have listened to 6 audiobooks through my iPod. I’ve listened to them while walking, sitting down with a knitting project in hand, baking a cake, tidying up around the house, vacuuming, scrubbing the shower with a toothbrush, having lunch out on the porch, sitting on a bus, biking and lying in bed.

I wouldn’t have been able to read proper books at the same time as doing all of the above. And I think that’s the major plus for me when it comes to audiobooks vs “real books”. I actually go through books whithout having to make them a priority over some of those tasks that really need to be done.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been one of those people who check the ending of books before getting there. Holding a book in hand, I always get the urge to check the last sentence after having read only a couple of chapters. Sometimes it totally destroys the book as that last sentence reveals too much, but I can’t help myself. With audiobooks though… It takes so much more of an effort to get to the last sentence that I have enough time to tell myself to quit it. To not bother. And I have to say that stories often get better if I can still be intrigued by the end.

Yesterday I finished the latest book I’ve listened to (Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane) and I realized I reacted so much more to suspense when I heard it rather than read it. The suspension at the end of the book got to me more than it would’ve if I’d read it. I couldn’t fast forward the voice the same way I push through text when using my eyes. Every syllable was there.

My boyfriend asked me yesterday, as I was loading my next audiobook into the computer, if I had given up on reading paper books altogether. No, I haven’t. But I have to say that I like the freedom that audiobooks give me.

I do wonder though, if my iPod will destroy some of the magic around books and reading…