Books · Creativity · Influences · Personal · Writing

A Challenging Read

While I’m a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, I don’t limit my reading list to those specific genres. I feel that, as a writer, I need to expose myself to a wide variety of ideas and input. Plus, my interests are all over the place, so if you took a peek at the stack of books on my shelves you’d see everything from astronomy and biology to biographies and fiction from almost every genre.

Currently, I’m reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco and it’s possibly the most challenging book of fiction I’ve read. And this is despite the fact I’ve watched the movie multiple times over the years. It’s one of my favorites.

I’ll post a full review once I’ve finished it. I’m currently a little over halfway through this beast and, while I’m loving the story, it’s so incredibly dense with details and obscurities that it’s taking me a long time to read. And don’t get me wrong – I’m loving the adventure.

Eco is an incredible storyteller, and this medieval monastery murder mystery (alliteration intended!) is well-plotted. But what’s getting me is the almost overwhelming amount of detail he’s incorporated into the story. I’m finding that I have to pause every few pages to look up architectural details he’s described, or to translate some obscure passage from an ancient book of African poetry, or simply to translate some bit of latin. All those years growing up Catholic, you’d think some of that Latin would have stuck in my head. There’s also a great deal of theology and philosophy, so a few passages require a re-read or two to make sure I’m understanding it all.

Of course, it would probably have been easier for me to read it on my Kindle so I could have the footnotes and translations readily available, but no, I bought this one in hardback. It’s a keeper and a fine additional to my unwieldily home library.

I feel like in reading this book, I’m not only being entertained, I’m being educated. My Catholic background helps a bit. I’m familiar with a lot of the ceremony, the prayers, the traditions, so I can easily relate to many aspects of the story. But Eco did so much research into obscure parts of the religion that I find myself both confounded and impressed.

I’m hoping to finish the book by the end of the month, but I don’t want to rush it. This is a book to savor, to enjoy, to relish.

Now, back to it!




2 thoughts on “A Challenging Read

  1. Props for trying to push through it. Some people can come up with great stories but aren’t that great at telling them.

    I remember one book during my first go around in college; “Letters to a Young Doctor”. The premise was a series of letters exchanged between a grizzled old veteran doctor and a young, starry eyed resident. Full of all kinds of good life advice, anecdotes, etc… Potentially, it could have been a good book. The wording was over the top bombastic though. It was like the author had to find the most complicated, syllable heavy and flowery way to say EVERYTHING in the book.

    We got it… doctors are smart. There’s a way to express one’s self intelligently without going WAY over the top though. When several of us pointed that out to the English professor, her reply was that it showed how ignorant and narrow minded we were. 60% of the class went to the admissions office and dropped the class after that session.

    1. That’s a great way to say it. I sometimes wonder how one of those poorly-written but potentially-great stories would do in the hands of a better writer.
      Thanks for the comment!

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