Are you a book snob?
In the last few weeks I've run into several book snobs. Haven't quite figured out what I'm doing to attract them, but there you have it. Whenever I talk about reading, I invariably hear from two or three readers indicating that my choice of reading material isn't acceptable. Sometimes it has to do with genre. Others object to the sex in the books... who knew that Louis L'Amour's were erotic? And one person felt that I should be reading the classics. Um, My Secret Life is classic--classic Victorian erotica, true--but classic.
What exactly makes one book better than another? Is it vocabulary? I used to read all the novels by William Buckley. Now that fellow had a vocabulary. I kept a dictionary handy. So maybe that means that his books are good? Actually, they were pretty good.
Or is it the story itself that matters the most? I read all the stuff you're supposed to read in high school, Orwell, Twain, Poe... And the books that supposedly are really important--Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, Tess of the D'urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, Oliver Twist--and a few hundred more.
Perhaps I just have a light heart or light head (could be either one). To tell the truth, I'm at a stage in my life when I'm not terribly interested in reading books with deep meaning and/or unhappy endings. For heavier reading I'm working my way through a biography of St. Paul the Apostle. If I finish that one, I have a few more to wade through. Mayflower, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings... And other than that, I want something to entertain and delight me.
On the whole chick-lit bores me. I think it's that age thing again. I'm fifty-eight years old. In general, my life is more or less settled. I'm not interested in clothes, work, shoes, dating, getting married (or divorced) or going out with my girl friends on date night. No doubt that defines me as a radical, but somebody has to step in and fill the position.
Over the years I probably average reading a thousand books a year. No I'm not exaggerating. I read very fast. In the last two days I wrote 4000 words and read five books. That's pretty standard for me. I have keepers (that I keep, naturally) and then there are those "other" books that I forget almost before I read them. The keepers are the ones that I can discuss the plot, main characters and usually even the title five or ten years later.
Actually, I could still discuss some of the books I read as a kid. Don't suppose anyone is around who would care, but just sayin'.
I think what bothers me the most is that there is an assumption that if you read mysteries or romances that you never read anything else. That stereotyping irritates me. It makes us one dimensional. Today perhaps I'll read a romance. Tomorrow I might read a biography. The day after I could choose to read War and Peace or a history of the Battle of Waterloo. Short of listing every book I've ever read, there is no way for you, my readers to really know what my reading might consist of so... my advice is to find a book you like and read.
It doesn't really matter what kind of book. The important thing is that we take advantage of the books available to us. It wasn't so long ago that one fellow was busy burning them.