Is “easy to read” a good thing?
First of all, let me say that I have no quarrel with anyone who reviews my books. I love that a) you read my work and b) you took the time to review it. Having said that, there’s one phrase in a review that I don’t know how to feel about: Easy to Read.
“This book was very well written, easy to read, and kept me guessing all the way through.”
“Even if you don’t read very often, this book is a very easy read and goes by entirely too quickly.”
Now, don’t get me wrong–I know these readers are complimenting the book. So why does the phrase rub me the wrong way? Is it that I equate Easy to Read with this?
Does easy mean “a 5 year old could do it?” I guarantee you a 5 year old shouldn’t read my books. I’d be iffy about letting a 15 year old read them.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine about this. He asked me, “Do you think they’re implying that the book was easy to write?” Well, maybe. Perhaps people assume that I can toss a book together in a few hours–a light and fluffy confection of no consequence. And what if I had? Would that be terrible?
My friend went on, “No one is going to mistake your Lexy Cooper books for serious literature. That may not be fair, but it’s the way it is.” That stung, initially, but he’s right. It’s not serious literature. It’s not meant to be. Kids won’t be reading my books in AP English fifty years from now.
My books are not designed to be dense and philosophical or to show off my vocabulary. I don’t like to read books like that, so why would I write one?
I think the underlying problem is that I take my writing very seriously. It’s something that is important to me, that I work hard at. So can I say I’m a serious writer if I don’t write serious literature? I think I can. I think this guy summed it up pretty well:
“Hard writing makes easy reading.” – Wallace Stegner