What is a Reading Experience?

I remember in high school reading many books that I had no taste for. They were classics. I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t seem “classic” to me.

Then, I read To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved it. Why? Because it was more than a story, it was an experience. It changed the way I saw the world of the past and made it real to me as a teenager. I felt the truths taught in that book down to my toes. It made me resolve to never espouse some of the incorrect beliefs and prejudices other people often had.

A book that makes you resolve to be a better person IS a reading experience.

Green Eggs and Ham or Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss are reading experiences. Why? Because it takes energy and rhythm to read them. You get in the swing, trying to get your tongue to do all those twists, and you find yourself laughing and trying again. And, don’t you find yourself first annoyed by Sam and then by the end you are rooting for the other guy to try the green eggs and ham?

A book that creates fun simply by reading a few words and combining them with real situations IS a reading experience. How many times have I tried a new food because of Green Eggs and Ham? How about you?

It’s the Experience that Makes a Book Worth Reading

I never finished Grapes of Wrath in my high school literature course. I failed heartily about halfway through and watched the movie. From the movie I realized there were some possibly compelling bits in there, but it still didn’t resonate with me like I wanted. I had no experience with the book.

In fact, it may shock you to know that I didn’t really like to read very much until I graduated high school. What changed? I took a job at a brand-new Scholastic Books call center in Moberly, Missouri. I took phone orders from teachers all over the country. The only thing I was allowed to do when calls were few and far between was read books published, or distributed, by Scholastic. My whole world changed overnight. I realized that I loved to read.

How did I not know I loved to read? Because it turns out I like to read for a specific purpose. I need an experience. And for me, there are three things that create that experience for me. They are: stress reduction, tranquility, and vocabulary expansion. If a book does not tick at least two of these purposes, I simply have trouble staying connected to it. I usually let it go with little remorse.

I need a “stress reduction” experience. For me, that means something very specific. I need a new world. An alter-earth or another planet, or a doorway from this earth to another, magical world. I want to get out of this world when I read. I also need to have realistic, engaging, and deep characters who have a real-life problem or mission that they solve in an imaginary world. I really can’t stand characters who are cliché or who never get hurt, and especially characters who never make any mistakes. Even the most annoying character can be relatable and loveable if they feel real to me.

I find “tranquility” when those characters discover and espouse truths; truths I know are accurate and which I feel are important myself. Peace, or tranquility, comes when my own feelings about life and the universe are validated. Then, if I get lucky and the author also has a knack for using (or creating) fabulous words, I’m thoroughly entertained. I love to use big words and discovering them brings me joy.

What Creates a Reading Experience for You?

Not everyone needs the same kind of experience. However, here are some reasons a lot of people read. Choose the three you feel best describe you!

  • Stress reduction
  • Tranquility (addresses underlying spiritual feelings/beliefs, introduces new truths that resonate)
  • Vocabulary Expansion
  • Knowledge
  • Mental Stimulation
  • Memory Improvement
  • Stronger Thinking and Analytical Skills
  • Improved Focus and Concentration

Which three did you choose? What makes a book a “reading experience” for you?

Tranquility—or truth validation—is a Key Function of a Reading Experience

If you often find yourself reading self-help books (searching for knowledge or truth) then tranquility should be one of your three-experience needs. More into biographies, memoirs, and historical fiction? Then, often what you’re looking for is an experience where others found truth and stood by it, or fought against opposition to truth, or lived a life that was an example of a truth. Tranquility should also be one of your three-experience needs.

Children’s fiction and YA fiction often has a fabulist (moral) premise. If you love those, tranquility should be one of your three. However, when you graduate into adult fiction, often tranquility gets lost in mental stimulation via plot, entertainment value, and other writing styles.

So, not everyone will agree with me. But that’s okay. Still, I feel firmly that any reading experience should include tranquility. That means that no matter what genre you find yourself gravitating to; no matter what books you look to, it’s likely that without a strong dose of tranquility, they don’t make your long-term shelf. Without tranquility, they aren’t worth recommending to a friend, they aren’t worth annotating, they aren’t worth re-reading.

Kentstead Media is Committed to Tranquility

I started this company because I have found so many who, like me, are tired of reading books that have no element of tranquility. I equate tranquility with a heavy dose of truth. Whether you read nonfiction, fiction, a combo, or whether you are committed to a very specific sub-genre; it’s likely that the books you hold on to, recommend, reread, and annotate are full of truths that resonate with you, change you, validate you, and leave you considering how you might be a better person.

So, when we say “we offer reading experiences”, we mean that every book we publish (fiction or nonfiction) comes with a heavy dose of truth and tranquility. No matter what else you need for your reading experience, we’ve got it all right here.