Prompted by my Rhetoric teacher’s question of, “What types of pleasure do we get from reading novels?” These are just a few. 🙂

Vignette 1 – “Sheer, Wide-Eyed Wonder” Pleasure

One of my favorite books when I was very young was my illustrated copy of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The premise of the sisters dressing in their most beautiful gowns and dancing in an enchanted castle until dawn captivated me (and I checked our mobile home very thoroughly for secret passages that would lead somewhere similar).

Beyond the story itself though, the beautiful full-color plate illustrations of the diamond-studded forest and the princess’ flower garden enthralled me. This book was one of the first to introduce me to the delight of entering a fantasy world and staying there for a while. It’s one of the stories that cemented my reading tastes in the Fantasy genre.

Vignette 2 – “Boy, I’m Tired, But It Was So Worth It” Pleasure

I first read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was in fifth grade. It took me seventy-two hours of straight reading (excluding parent enforced meal breaks and the occasional cat-nap) to finish. By the time I set the book down, I had a serious case of eyestrain, but I remember feeling a distinct sense of pride and accomplishment since it had been a difficult story to read, vocabulary-wise, and I had gotten through the entire trilogy faster than my mom had when she first read it. It was my first truly long “marathon” read, and I was proud to have made it through. It also didn’t hurt that I had absolutely loved the story and couldn’t wait to open the books up and go on the trek with Frodo all over again.

Vignette 3 – “Not A Tourist Anymore!” Pleasure

The world of Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels novels has a very complex social caste system based around a person’s magical strength, gender, and bloodlines. Underneath the social structure is the economic consideration of wealth and status. All of it blends together into a dizzying social dance that would leave readers bewildered for the first few books if Bishop didn’t take the time to point out what’s going on.

One of my favorite types of reading pleasure is when I start to think like an inhabitant of whatever book I’m reading. I love when the author’s alien world begins to make as much sense as my own. It is especially satisfying with Bishop’s books because of how intricate her system is. The first time that I recognized and understood the visual clues within the narrative before any exposition was given, was amazingly awesome.

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