Monday, April 4, 2016

A Reason Not to Read My Book

I had an interesting experience at a book signing last weekend. This was one of those Deseret Book "Ladies Night" events with refreshments and giveaways. The place was packed, and the ladies tended to stay a while, hoping for the next drawing to call their name. Therefore, I was able to have a few conversations with those camping out near my table.

One conversation in particular has stayed with me. There was an older woman sitting on her walker seat, thumbing through a stack of books on her lap to whittle down her choices. It was the perfect opportunity to ask her what she likes to read and see if I could interest her in Secrets of the King's Daughter. As soon as she learned my story was based on the Book of Mormon, she started shaking her head. "I think that we need our own opinions of what those people looked like and did," she said.

This didn't deter me. I've considered this argument before, and wrote a blog post about finding that balance between recorded scripture and fiction. Perhaps she could be convinced. All I wanted was for readers to give it a chance so they could feel the inspirational uplift or emotional response that I expected they would from the engaging storyline and gospel messages found within, or a renewed interest in the scriptures. Something positive.

I told her that the Church filled in the details left to the imagination when they produced such films as The Testaments. I told her about the Scripture Reference List in the back of the book so that readers could look up what I wrote that was established by scripture. In fact, looking up references is encouraged. She still shook her head, so I relented. "It sounds like you know what you want," I said with a smile.

Over the course of another thirty or forty minutes, she stayed where she was and revealed more of her opinions little by little, probably wanting to explain why she turned me down flat. She'd heard me tell others that it's been getting good reviews and saw me sign a few copies. She explained that another author had steered her wrong and she won't ever read that author again. A little later she said that it took a session with her stake president to set her straight. Now it all made sense.

In most cases, I think it's good to expand your reading material into other genres and new authors, but my book was not right for this woman, and she stood firm about that. She showed me that there are valid reasons why not to read certain books. Sometimes we get easily mixed up or swayed or don't like foul language or plots that are upsetting. It might take some experimenting to learn what to avoid, but once you know, you can make the right choice for you.


Carolyn Frank said...

Interesting encounter. I like the way you looked at it.

Brock said...

If all scripture is literal history, then we run a very shaky balance of maintaining faith through study of legitimate texts.

BUT IF scripture is considered as allegory (such as the Temple ceremony, or Adam & Eve story) or metaphor, then it gives us much more latitude, as well as personal responsibility, to make meaning for ourselves.

If the Stake President had to "straighten her out" then she seems to be derelict in her own duty. Further, the Stake President sounds like he isn't doing HIS duty in that he thinks he can provide all the correct answers.

Renae Mackley said...

I've been "away" this week on a staycation with visiting family, so I'm just now seeing these comments. Thank you, Brock and Carolyn, for your comments and insights.
As for the woman mentioned in my post, I don't have enough information to know what she meant by "straighten her out", her total mental health, or if the stake president merely explained some gospel principles on her request. I won't make any further judgements, but it was an interesting experience.