I’m not tough to read: Give me suspense

Sunday, January 9, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:13 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 7, 2008

I’ve been doing a great deal of reading lately. I’ve finished two books in the last week. No big deal to you brainiacs who can consume a 200 pager in a couple of hours, but Sister Alexandra would be proud. She was my second grade teacher who thought I’d never get through my Dick and Jane reader. Back then we were not labeled “remedial” or learning disabled.” We were just called stupid.

My love of reading came late in life — raising a brood left little time to turn pages at my leisure. It was during the turbulent teenage years when I had to stay up and wait for a child to return to the nest that I started picking up a novel to while away the hours. (This was before cable so late night TV ended with Johnny Carson.)

I must admit that I have a difficult time setting aside the editor in me. I have to resist the urge to get a red pen and mark the book where the noun and pronouns don’t match and when the subject and verb conflict. Sentence fragments drive me crazy and sometimes the dialogue is so contrived I want to throw the book across the room.

I remember reading only one romance novel. All of those “love” stories are formulas. The story begins with a woman, a young and VERY attractive single woman, in conflict. Then she meets a man, a young and VERY attractive single man. The sparks fly, but then there is more conflict and it seems they are not destined to be together. Next the woman gets into some real trouble; the man, who is also quite macho, shows up just as tragedy is apparent and saves the day. The story ends with the two walking off into the sunset. Yuck!

My choice of literature has always been suspense novels, which seems a little ironic because with seven kids there was always anxiety and uncertainty in the household. Reading was a form of transference. I could forget about my worries and read about someone else’s troubles.

I get so involved in the story line that when I put the book down the characters are still in my mind. I’ll be washing dishes and wonder what’s happening with Petra and Eric (I swear these are real characters in the last book I read.) I hate it if I have to stop reading just as the murderer is hiding in the bedroom waiting to attack. If it’s a real thriller, the book becomes my constant companion. Sometimes the book is so good that I’m sad when I finish reading the last word. Will the two leading characters wed? Will the kid with an attitude, who was always getting in trouble, grow up to be a lawyer?

I have a friend who rereads the same books over and over. My question is why? You already know the ending. Was there some detail you overlooked the first 12 times you read it?

Once I have finished a book, I can take a test on its contents. I can tell you what the heroine was wearing the day she met the killer. I can repeat almost verbatim the dialogue between the tough detective (he would be the one who falls for the heroine) and his boss when they realize they have a masterful, yet always insane, serial killer on their hands.

I have another friend who boasts that she reads at least three books at the same time. She said she has a couple on the bedside table and one in the living room. I consider myself a multitasker, but my brain can’t handle more than one plot at a time.

I wanted desperately to become one of Oprah’s book club buddies. I read the first two books she advertised. And although I must say both were very well written, they were also the most depressing stories I’ve ever read. If my books don’t end with “happily ever after,” the author can at least be kind enough to tie up loose ends.

Some day I hope to become a published author. I want to write a book— maybe an autobiography. I’m pretty sure it won’t be considered serious prose but my life so far has truly been stranger then fiction.

If you have a comment or want to urge me on to authorship (meaning you’re willing to fork over cash when the book is published), please e-mail me at

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