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Sara Reyes | What’s in a Name?

May 16, 2009

Sara ReyesI was passing time with a fellow reader this week, waiting for books to arrive for processing and our conversation wandered as most readers do to books: what we’re reading, what we’re looking to read and pet peeves. This time it was two biggies; where do they get these “weird” character names and electronic book devices. We’ll let the devices linger for the future but concentrate on the character names.

MistressNow, I’ve read my share of books with totally unpronounceable (for me at least) names but it usually doesn’t bother me because I just give them a nickname. For example, Iphiginia Bright in MISTRESS became “Ippie” to me throughout the entire book. I was so entranced by the story I didn’t let an unfamiliar name bog me down. On the other hand, when there are too many “s” or “p” names in the same book, I give up and start to skip scenes for one or the other “S” character. Not sure if it is a deep-seated personal problem or if it just clashes too much in my head for me to continue. I can’t remember the name of the book but it had a Steve and Stephen in it. Ridiculous! Seriously, couldn’t they have come up with “Samuel” or “Smithers” if they were so entranced with “S?”

But I was very surprised when my friend said she tries to pronounce every name in the book and if it’s unfamiliar or strange she quits. In fact she’ll even check the names on the back cover to see if she can pronounce them! Honestly I was surprised. I had never considered it possible for a name to stop a reader from reading a book but why not? Most of the reading goes on in our heads and our imaginations so if they names become a stumbling block, then I can imagine it would slow them down to the point of non-enjoyment.

I was amused this week when I read a book I borrowed from another friend, trying to catch up on some backlists of authors I’ve just discovered. Someone had written in the front flap of the book “good story but too many characters to keep track of.” At first I was horrified that someone had the gall to defile a book in such a manner. If you know me you’ll know care is taken with books which means: no creasing spine, no breaking spine, no dog-earing of pages, no folding of pages, no eating while reading (especially if you like stuff that leaves yellow or colored fingerprints) and NO WRITING IN A BOOK unless it’s a text book and then all bets are off. So, writing inside the front cover of a book and it wasn’t even the author’s signature or a cute note from a gift giver sorta appalled me. But after deciphering the message, and yes it took me a bit since it was an unknown person and had been written all over around the promo blurb, I was touched that the previous reader had taken the time to give her synopsis of the book for future readers. I went into it expecting a cast of at least 20 but could only remember 8 or four couples. Hmm, that was too many for me? NOT!

So, what do you think about character names or quantity of characters…

Until next time…
Get out there and READ a book…

Sara Reyes

DFW Tea Readers Group
Join us at Readers ‘n ‘ritas November 13-15, 2009!

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