Dear Book Nerd Episode #10: Analyze THIS

Hello, and welcome to the Dear Book Nerd podcast! We’re here to help, so let’s dive right in. This week, the eloquent and enthusiastic Jonathan Auxier joins me on the show and we answer two listener-submitted questions about the different ways in which people experience books. Jonathan and I explore issues such as: is it better to deeply analyze a book, or just enjoy it? Am I driving my friends crazy when I pick apart their favorite novels? How do my partner and I reconcile our differences when we don’t experience books in the same way? And much more. Don’t miss it!

Jonathan is the author of the middle grade fantasy novels Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes (2011) and The Night Gardener (which just came out!) Check out Jonathan’s website for more details about how to purchase his wonderful books. (And be sure to check out the amazing “Library of the Future” poster he made for me a few years ago!) Thanks, Jonathan!

This episode was sponsored by Oyster.

NOTE: we are aware of the slight problem with the audio and we are working on fixing it. Thanks for your patience!

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Dear Book Nerd,

First of all, love the show, you’re doing a great job! And because you’re doing such a great job, I wanted to get your input on my situation. I’m a huge “story nerd.” I love reading about tropes, character analysis, and plot breakdowns. Just thinking about a good book discussion makes me excited! Unfortunately many of my friends do not share my giant nerdy passion, and the kind of stuff they do read (or watch, for that matter) is the kind of stuff that I have less than favorable opinions about. The problem is that I’m often reading with a more critical eye than they are, and it has come to the point where a few of them have outright told me to stop talking, because they like their book and they want to keep it that way. I don’t want to be a jerk and make them feel judged, but I do want to talk about this stuff. Should I give up on my friends and find like-minded nerds on the internet? Or is there a trick that can help me curb my enthusiasm for the greater good?

Apologetic Know-It-All

Dear Book Nerd:

My boyfriend and I have two different ways of reading books: critically and for entertainment. We tend to read the same sorts of books, and often the same book together. He is all about critical analysis — that’s his version of fun — and I get my enjoyment out of just letting the books take me where they will and enjoying the ride. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with how he reads and evaluates the books we go through, but I feel like some of the magic is lost when someone points out how the magician got the rabbit out of the hat, so to speak. Even beyond books, we’re like this with movies, too, and sometimes we start to butt heads over it!

For example, sometimes he reads ahead and starts dissecting it chapter by chapter, so that it doesn’t have time to work its magic on me, but I don’t want to stop him because he gets so excited about talking about it. But a lot of the time I really just want him to let me finish it and then maybe if he wants to talk about the symbolism of the bird in chapter three being reflected in the bird-like imagery in chapter six, then we can chat. It’s like someone explaining the cinematography of a scene DURING THE MOVIE.

Are we doomed as a couple? Is there a way to bridge the gap about the distinct kinds of bookish FUN we prefer having? HELP ME DEAR BOOK NERD! You’re our only hope!

Doesn’t Want to Meet the Wizard

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Dear Book Nerd

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