I have a confession to make: I’ve never read Jane Eyre. I don’t get Mr. Darcy comments. It’s not just the old British stuff, either. Atlas Shrugged, The Road, or The Catcher in the Rye are a few I haven’t read nor ever will. I sound like a terrible English major. But you know what? I’m tired of feeling ashamed of reading what I like to read.
If you love those types of books, that’s awesome. You get 1300 reader points from me, because I know lots of people who love the “classics” and/or literary fiction and that’s totally fine. But they’re not for me. I read lots of other classics through English classes in high school and college and only a handful really stuck with me (I’m sure the frat parties didn’t help). The rest I avoided in favor of Sweet Valley University or Harry Potter.
Even during my college courses, my favorite class was Kiddie Lit (Children’s Literature), where I read tons of YA books–that’s where I felt most at home. I adored the syllabus, ate up every YA book, went to town on end-of-semester papers and what I considered for themes. British Literature, however, bored me to tears. I adored my American Lit professors (the toughest one pushed me harder than ever and I still respect him so much for it), but admit that after I read those books, they got stashed in a closet or sold at the end of school year for
booze money…er, I mean…no. We all know I meant booze. I loved some of the books I read for American Lit (The Sun Also Rises, Slaughterhouse 5, Tender is the Night), but there’s a slim-to-none chance they get read again. Instead, they’ll sit proudly on my shelf as war heroes from the college years (because let’s face it, after 5-10 years of wear, tear, dust, and moving, they deserve a medal of appearance).
That’s why I don’t hate so hard on Twilight. I’ve read the books and while I could rant about them all day long, that’s just MY opinion (and boy, do I have ’em about that saga, but I digress). There are plenty of other readers who love them and I can’t argue that those books helped grab more readers for the rest of us. I would never get into a verbal brawl with a reader about them, because that’s simply what they enjoy. Harry Potter and Twilight helped put reading back on the map for a lot of people and I can’t fault that one bit. I LOVE people who love to read, who are passionate about a story, and want to encourage others to pick up a great book.
I certainly appreciate the hard work that goes into literary fiction, to the incredibly written pieces of work, but it’s not for me. I like my mystery thrillers, fantasy, paranormal YA, occasional chick lit, and humor books. I’ll even throw Fox Trot comics on top of that pile (I very seriously own every anthology). Maybe that makes me a shallow person, but I simply know what I like to read. Nonfiction can be occasionally interesting, but I’m super picky.
All the same, and I say this as a reader, not a writer, I think that everyone should simply read what they enjoy. Don’t force yourself to read something you feel is a waste of time. (Okay, obviously, this is for the non-school crowd. You guys know what I mean. I’m not encouraging homework mutiny. Write your papers and do your work, then you can read whatever you want.) But why read something you don’t really want to read?
And the complete opposite can be true for others: if you don’t like the fluff, don’t worry about it. Read the classics and heavily discuss them with other book lovers. There’s a niche for everyone and there’s no shame in what anyone reads. Sometimes I still turn red when I get odd looks in the YA section of stores (and high school girls still intimidate the hell outta me, so I don’t go near the section when they’re all standing there looking like queen bees. Yeah, it’s a weird thing), so at least now we have Kindles/Nooks when we’re feeling a little shy.
(Of course, if that’s the case, then I suppose I’m begrudgingly accepting others read stuff like 50 Shades, in which case have fun with that, but don’t come discussing it with me unless you want a rant with a bunch of frustrated noises and unladylike cursing. To each his own, but I’m gonna do my best to ignore erotica and/or crappy writing. In 50 Shades’ case, that’d be both. I’d say sorry, but I’m not.)
I know Gifted is for specific readers; if you don’t like fantasy, you’re probably not gonna have a great time at my circus. It’s not serious literature. It’s a fun, light read about a murder mystery at a supernatural circus. I know it’s not for everyone. AND THAT’S OKAY! You can put it down. Go ahead. I won’t take offense. (And to be honest, and I promise I’m not trying to show how ‘cool’ I am, but with all the drama in the book blogging world, I wish more authors would be laidback like I am about it.) I wouldn’t want to grumble my way through a book and wind up resenting the story or author. As many book bloggers have said, life is too short to read bad books. Read what you want. Have no shame–love what you read and share it with others like you!