Reading Experiences

Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone is rewarding.

I recently read two books whose writing styles are quite different from the books I usually read. The first is called The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, which is a collection of stories. The second is Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. In the case of the first book, I didn’t have a choice; it was part of my English course. Although the stories themselves are a little difficult for me to understand, and are not really the genre I usually read, I quite like certain aspects of the writing style. Some parts, such as the changing perspectives and tenses, are not ones that I particularly like, although I have to admit that they add to the mood of the stories. On the other hand, some of the imagery and literary devices used are powerful, and effectively add to the reader’s experience of the story.

I still remember one line from one of the stories: “Her hair falls down like tears.” I think that is one of the nicest descriptions I have ever read! In such few words, it makes me imagine hair flowing gracefully like a river, the strands running down like rivulets and falling fluidly along the back. The mention of tears also adds a melancholy to the description, and reveals a bit more about the character, while hiding just enough to keep the reader wondering. It really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that can be used, when writing, to describe something beautifully and uniquely. There are other examples I could use, but this sentence has stuck with me since I read that particular story. Although I must say that the stories themselves are not quite my taste, the writing style itself is often beautiful, in my opinion.

The other book is called Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and it is one I chose to read myself, after a friend recommended it. The plot sounded interesting, so I decided to try it, and I was not disappointed. Not only is the plot riveting, the writing style is also unique. The writer often seems to skip words or phrases such as “like” and “as [adjective] as”, which renders the imagery much more powerful, because a comparison, such as “Her skin was as cold as ice” becomes a statement: “Her skin was ice.”

An example I really like is: “I always wonder about raindrops. I wonder about how they’re always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. […] I am a raindrop.” I think this is a good example of “Show, don’t tell”, and I really like how the final statement is so short and yet reveals so much about the character; not only her resemblance to the falling, lost, powerless raindrops, but also the fragility and possible insignificance she shares with them. And that is just my interpretation; there is probably much more that someone else could draw from that line. I have learnt about a different style of writing from this novel, because I hadn’t read anything like this before. It also has the unusual descriptions I read in the other book, which really help the reader to picture what they are reading, and sometimes even feel what the character is feeling.

Although these two books are a little different from the ones I usually read (this applies more to the first book than the second), I’m really glad that I have read them, because they have allowed me to expand my literary horizons. Now I understand why writers always recommend aspiring authors to read regularly!

By the way, if you have read Shatter Me, and would like to read a review of it, a friend of mine has done a review you might like to read. You can take a look even if you haven’t read the book; there’s a short summary in the beginning (but beware the spoilers). Click here to read it!


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