Monday, July 16, 2007

Reading for the fun of it ...

Skimming through Bookninja today, I came across something that stopped me in my tracks (or, at least, stopped the movement of my cursor down the page). As I mentioned only a short time ago, I’m an English major – I am therefore utterly unable to pass up an article on literary merit without comment. By and large, I liked Rick Groen’s discussion of “liberating” effect of fiction and the importance of novels, but frankly, I found his argument for “literary fiction” a little silly. Yes, we should read great books, yes, they should be artistic, and sure, those graceful yet heavy films that seamlessly infuse their messages into our very souls are fantastic. Honestly, though, if that was all media I consumed, I’d probably read three books and see two movies in a year, and I’d be depressed the whole time (what can I say? Most powerful books tend to end sadly). Unlike Groen, I refuse to dismiss non-“literary” books – in fact, I find them necessary. Not only do they entertain us and lift our spirits, but, like the fool in Macbeth whose comedy actually highlights the tragic nature of the play, they serve to remind us of good literature when we find it. This year I took breaks from Shakespeare to watch Veronica Mars and the Office. My best friend and I occasionally paused in our reading of Cannery Row to chuckle over bad romance novels. Perhaps it’s that I can still remember high school, where getting kids to read at all is a challenge, but honestly, I think that what we read doesn’t matter all that much. So long as we enjoy the English language, we’re doing okay.


  1. Your thoughts on the literary and non-literary are grounded in common sense but CANNERY ROW is a great story even after all these decades.

  2. My life is way too short to read things for any other reason than it's what I want to read. I've already done the thing where I read what other people tell me to read. Then I graduated.