Booking literature

Booking Through Thursday

  • When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
  • Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?

Argh. I hate this literary vs. genre argument with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. I love Fitzgerald (Darcy and I have a serious thing for The Great Gatsby). Love “Shapespeare” as Andrew used to call him. Spent serious time with the Russians (Tolstoy, Pushkin, Chekhov).

I enjoy genre. I enjoy literary and literature. I think it’s important for writers to read outside their comfort zone. If, for no other reason, to understand what it is they don’t like about it and why.

But then, we love absolutes, don’t we? All genre is escapist fluff. All literary is pretentious, tragic, and obscure. All classics are boring. And sure, you could probably find plenty of evidence to support those statements.

And I don’t buy the: I’m busy, so when I read, I want to be entertained. Uh, same here. The way I see it, all fiction (and a great deal of nonfiction) is escapist. If it’s not my reality, then chances are I’m escaping.

Sometimes it is good to grab a comfort read, something you know will make you laugh, or has a guaranteed happy ending. And sometimes, those tougher reads help us make sense of the world, understand why the bad things happen.

As a reader, I need both of those. As a writer, I’d be negligent if I didn’t at least consider all types of writing.

I’ve been called a literary snob for not liking The Da Vinci Code. It wasn’t so much the writing (nothing to uh, write home about), but the topic. Conspiracy. Yawn. Whatev. If I’d been into the subject matter, then I probably would’ve been into the book.

On the flipside, it has also been suggested I’m somewhat less of a writer for choosing to write young adult fiction–that somehow fiction with teen characters aimed at a teen demographic is lacking in all the elements you’d find in adult fiction.

My response: whatev.

So, y’all go fight among yourselves. I’m going to go back to reading whatever happens to appeal to me, despite its label.


Filed under Memes

9 responses to “Booking literature

  1. Honestly, I think that’s the thing… I have my own “label” for what I think is literature. If I like it (i.e. Shakespeare or Poe or Austen) it isn’t “literature”, LOL. It’s a “classic”.

    I still don’t like unhappy endings. I think you can address why bad things happen, or leave a message and still make it end okay. It doesn’t have to be all wine and roses, but you don’t have to kill everyone off, either.

    OTOH, it’s odd that I enjoy Shakespeare, since that’s exactly what he did on a regular basis.

    Hmm….. Perhaps I know nothing of what I speak.

    Or, as you said so eloquently: whatev.

  2. Very well put. Ignore the labels and read what you like.

  3. I hated The DaVinci Code. I thought the writing and chapter end cliffhangers was juvenile. But so what? It made alot of people think and the author alot of money.
    I like literature of all kinds but that does not mean I like every single book I read. Tragic endings where everyone dies or something similar does not leave me thinking good or useful thoughts most of the time. Maybe it’s me but I always feel like I just wasted my time.
    Happy BTT!

  4. sya

    I don’t really care for the literary vs. genre argument either as I consider literary fiction as just another genre. I personally divide books between stuff that I like and stuff that I don’t like–and all of that is only a matter of taste.

  5. Charity

    You know, I keep hoping the bookstore will set up a “Books Charity Will Like” section. I don’t know why that hasn’t happened yet. 😉

  6. *Stands Clapping* I’m totally with you.

  7. I’m so glad someone else feels this way about YA fiction. That’s where I started my rant on the subject.

  8. Let’s face it: an enthralling story that pulls the reader into the characters’ world is what we all want. I don’t care what you call it, I just love the feeling of sinking into a story. Cool post!

    Beth Fehlbaum, author
    Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
    Chapter One is online!

  9. Maybe that’s why I like amazon so much… they keep making recommendations based on what I’ve ordered, so it’s a bit like having a “Books anno might like” section of the bookstore.

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