One of my many challenges, as a striving author, is figuring out what people read and why. Why is Game of Thrones so popular, for instance? Is it mainly due to the TV show? No doubt, cross promotions boost sales, but HBO would not have spent millions bringing the book to life without an established fan base. But in this current ADHD era, A Song of Ice and Fire, a 6+ book series of up to 900 pages each, defies convention. YouTube, PS4 and the Walking Dead offer instant gratification, while the oldest entertainment medium on Earth (besides oration) can be excessively time consuming. For this reason, I often wonder how time affects story. For example, I forget names and plot points after weeks of reading. But I have also found time to be a benefit, since spending more of your life with a character develops familiarity and attachment. This is why people often say the book was better, since even the most faithful adaptations deal with time constraints. If you’ve never read a Harry Potter book, you may not form an emotional connection after only knowing him two hours in the theater.
This got me to thinking how people perceive novels based on how quickly or slowly they read. I’ve watched my daughter struggle for months to get through a book, and when she’s done, she usually feels apathetic toward it. Unless the story really grips me, which is rare, I take a leisurely pace, but in college I could knock out a French author in a weekend. Did the accelerated pace alter my perception? Is my love for the classics based on deadlines? To answer this question, I will attempt to read a novel in a single day; I know that I can technically do this, but skimming through a book for relevant information defeats the purpose of story telling, which is why I hate and have never used Cliff’s Notes. A story needs to be felt as much as understood, and feeling takes time.
For this little experiment, I have chosen The Maze Runner by James Dashner, due to it’s average length for Sci-Fi/Fantasy (374 pages), and because it has been recently made into a movie.
The questions I will then attempt to answer are:
1) Can I comfortably read 374 pages in a single day? This might end up a fiasco, if I only get halfway through it . . .
2) Will the accelerated reading rate hinder or enhance my enjoyment of the story?
3) Will the accelerated reading rate reflect more positively or negatively on the film? In other words, if I spend the same amount of time (1 day) on both the book and the film, will my emotional investment equal out?
By answering these questions, I hope to get a deeper understanding into how people read and why they enjoy certain forms of fiction. I will then post my results along with my review of The Maze Runner.