What Do You Want From a Book?

While we may not ask the question in so many words, it’s calculated in the background of our mind every time we choose a book to read. We have expectations about the storyline and how it will make us feel. If it’s a non-fiction book we want to come away having learned something. If it’s fiction we want to escape reality for a bit and take up with imaginary characters. We want to get lost in a world that’s not ours.

Really, then, we are not buying books, we are buying outcomes.

Focusing on the fictional aspect, we likely decide on a police procedural novel to enter the world of crime scene investigation. We want to be a part of the investigation, solving the case alongside the characters. We want to be thrown off by red herrings, be side-swiped by the twists and turns, and by the end we expect that the murderer face justice. We don’t just want the novel coming at us. We want to think as we read and anticipate what might be coming next. We want to solve the case before our beloved characters.

Another expected outcome from a fictional book is that we want to fall into the world the author’s created. We want to find relaxation as our minds drift from our reality to another dimension. We want to live through the characters. As we become absorbed by the story, we expect to find a sense of peace that comes from not adhering to a schedule. If we are unwell or in pain—emotionally or physically—we want the book we’re reading to take our mind off these matters.

As an author, it means so much to me to hear from my readers. Some of you have written in to say that you’ve faced a great lost and found comfort in my books during your time of grieving and loneliness. Others have told me how my books let them forget about their chronic pain. I also know that for every one of these emails I receive there are more of you out there that I haven’t heard from, but who I am touching just as greatly.

I thank you, readers, for this. Your entrusting me with your personal life, letting me know that I made a difference for you—this is a gift for me.

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