Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

Multiple Reading Personalities: What I Have Learned

I read a lot.

I read for many reasons, and many different types of materials.

Sometimes I read things I have to read, but more often I read things I want to read. Yet, if you ask me the question "what is your favorite book or genre?" I can't answer. I read what I feel like at any given moment. I read what calls to me. I read for different reasons. I read to feed my multiple reading personalities.

Even though I can't name a favorite book or genre, I can--to some extent--categorize the books I read, although my categories do not in any way resemble the categories used by booksellers and publishers around the world. Maybe that's part of my problem when it comes to my goal of publishing through traditional means . . . I don't think in the same way as traditional publishers. My personalities don't understand their categories.

[caption id="attachment_7847" align="aligncenter" width="584"]A table of my recent books. A table of my recent books.[/caption]

For example, the above image shows books that I have read recently, am in the process of reading, or will soon be reading. The left two piles contain books I need for work and/or research. The third pile is recently finished library books and my kindle, which itself contains a number of books that fall under different categories. The book on the right is my next library book read. How do these books break down in terms of my reading personalities? I will try to define them in no particular order.

The Renaissance Woman

This is the personality who reads and rereads the piles on the left. The piles might include non-fiction, biography, memoir, or theory. I admit, my pile is theatre heavy at the moment because I am about to cover a few classes while my colleague is on paternity leave, and he introduced me to a lot of new material. The current pile contains:
  • But is it art? by Cynthia Freeland
  • How Music Works by John Powell
  • A Director Prepares by Anne Bogart
  • Think Theatre by Mira Felner
  • The Norton Anthology of Drama, Vol. 2
  • Educational Drama and Language Arts: What Research Show
  • A Concise History of Theatre
  • Barrier-Free Theatre by Sally Bailey
  • On the Kindle: Cultural Democracy: The Arts, Community, and the Public Purpose
  • Recently read: Dancing with the Enemy; To the Letter; and My Reading Life

The World/Time Traveler

When I'm in the mood, there's nothing like dipping into historical fiction. I love learning about other cultures and times through the minds of fictional characters. I haven't read one in a while, but it may be time to revisit.

The Escapist

Sometimes I love to dip into a book that is light and fast-paced, with very few surprises but characters that fumble their way through life in a way that reminds me of myself. It's like eating the frosting off of a cupcake. I suppose people would classify this work as "chick lit" but I hate that term. Why is it that stories about women trying to find the balance between work, love, family and friendship are defined as chick lit when similar works about male protagonists (they exist and I read them as well) are not called "dick lit"?

The Magic Seeker

I want to believe we live in a world of fairies and magic, of griffins and dragons. I love the idea of Wicca and the possibility of accessing powers based in nature that go beyond the understanding of science. I want to live in a the world of possibility, where ghosts can be real, and hobbits can go on journeys to save the world. So, you will often find me delving into yet another fantasy novel or series. The problem, though, is that so many of these worlds are strong for only one book but many writer's want to go on and on in series that I have no desire to read.

The Child at Heart

I love children's books. I love middle grade books. I love reading the books that Sarah needs to read for fifth grade (most recently Tuck Everlasting which is so beautiful in so many ways). I love using "parenting" as an excuse to read another book that is intended for her. Just as I find plays for young audiences more imaginative and creative than plays intended for adults, I find books for young readers more fulfilling in many ways.

The Lost Teen

For similar reasons, I love reading young adult books about teenagers finding their voices and their positions in the world. However, I also admit that this category drives me the most insane. I get frustrated reading books that support the mean girl stereotype or reinforce attitudes toward sex and violence that seem prevalent. Again, I realize why I have such a hard time positioning my own work, because I write against that grain.

The Philosopher

Sometimes I'm in the mood to be challenged. This is when I visit books that I know will require time and patience, as the authors take me onto a journey into the mind and challenge the way I look at the world. I just finished reading The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, and the next book in my library pile is Aleph by Paulo Coelho. They sometimes make by brain and heart hurt but, but in a good way. Books 1

The Masochist

Lately I've been reading a lot of young adult dystopian fiction or fantasy as I try to find the best market for my own manuscript. These books can sometimes make you want to give up on the world. I've also read a lot of "lost teen" books for similar reasons. These books can sometimes make me disgusted with the depiction of youth today, and make me worry about my daughter's and the world's future. In addition, I've been reading a lot of self-published work as well, some brilliant and some that makes me say "just because you want to publish doesn't mean you are ready to publish."

I admit, now that I've discovered the joys of BookBub, I've been downloading a lot of titles for free, so I guess sometimes I get what I pay for. I read a lot of books that show me I am a good writer. I read a lot of traditionally published books that teach me the same. Sometimes the books are so awful, I stop reading. Sometimes I get a book knowing I won't like it, but for the purpose of understanding why these books sell. Sometimes I force my way through because I like one thing about the book, or simply want to know how they get out of the mess.

Masochistic reading is the least fun, of course.

I have a few other reading personalities as well, such as The Comic ConnoisseurThe Secret Seductress, or The Language Lover but I think you get the picture. My reading practices defy categorization, and I'm beginning to think my writing practice does as well.

Do you have multiple reading personalities? What are some of your favorites?