First comes the heightened anticipation. What book shall we select to entertain us? Are we in the mood for suspense, murder mysteries, a complicated love story, or a dystopian intergalactic futuristic fantasy?
Next, we decide how we want to get our fix. Do we want to turn the pages or read them on our phones or tablets? Maybe, we don't want to read at all. Perhaps we'll listen to the story as we garden or drive around town.
We have expectations of how the author should structure the story. There should be more than a beginning, middle, and an end. There should be suspense and unexpected plot twists. When we set down the book, turn off our tablet, or stop listening to the narration, we shouldn’t forget the story. We should want to pick it up again until we reach a satisfactory ending.
We won’t be satisfied if the bad guys get away with murder and don’t have to suffer for their crimes. We don’t expect innocent people to be killed for crimes they didn’t commit. We don’t want our heroine, an essential worker, to be shot while she's in bed sleeping. The hero should not be arrested for trying to protect her.
We want justice in the books we read and in our lives. We don’t want to read about bad guys riding off into the sunset and never being held accountable for their blatant disregard for human life.
Life with order has meaning. Right and wrong have a simple logic. In books as in life, it doesn’t take weeks, months, or years to determine if the villain who’s holding a smoking gun over a corpse is the killer. The author creates a clear picture, sometimes as clear as the disturbing images we see on a television screen.
A story must ring true. The writer can’t pretend that the villain had a rationalization for killing the innocent jogger. He has to say that the killer is a bad guy and shouldn’t be allowed his freedom.
In art, as in life, we have accountability for what we produce. Readers can’t be loyal to an author that creates plot holes and disturbing outcomes. The same can be said for a society that turns a blind eye to blatant injustices to underrepresented populations. They can’t have allegiance to institutions that don’t enforce accountability measures that protect everyone from dangerous and evil acts.
Never underestimate the intelligence and the morality of the reader and conscientious people in general.