Have you ever felt that maybe you were just the wrong kind of reader? The kind that enjoyed a good Grisham, or Nora Roberts’ book instead of Kerouac or Dickens? In other words, the kind of books that people describe as ‘literature’. I’m going to put my hand up and say I’m one of those readers.
Yes, I’d go for a contemporary author before winding my way back to a classic.
Part of it is that I associate those classics with high school, when reading them because a chore in order to get good marks. The stress of dissecting every line, every metaphor in an essay in an exam is something I’m not quite done with yet, I guess (except for Pride and Prejudice and To Kill a Mockingbird, those two have also stuck with me).
These titles, and Shakespeare were the standards in high school, and I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy them, I’m saying it takes a lot for me to read one now, and … some days, I feel like I should be ashamed for saying that.
I always mean to get to those classics, but there my overflowing bookshelves and boxes under my bed are a testament to the strength of the contemporary, popular authors I want to read as well. I’ve gone through Grisham, Dan Brown (yes, even him), Cassie Alexander, Seanan McGuire, JK Rowling and Charlaine Harris (though not True Blood).
Ok, so I’m on an sci-fi and fantasy kick.
As I’ve grown older, publishing has changed: self-publishing is giving new authors a voice, whereas once, the only voice authors and prospective authors had was the one publishing houses decided to give them –- and they were and continue to be ruthless in the titles they publish. Then there’s the internet and in between all this, my favourite genre – sci fi and fantasy – has grown in popularity and its likely to be one of the most well-stocked sections in a bookstore.
So, in addition to just liking a good – not classical – story, we’re at a time in our lives where there’s just so many good books and authors out right now. Self-publishing is getting bigger and in my case, sci-fi and fantasy genre books (my favourites) are now mainstream.
Professor John Sutherland, author of How to be well read has this to say: in my opinion, literature is a library, not a curriculum or a canon.
Sutherland has taught English literature for about 50 years, and anything goes in his book – from Tolstoy to Tolkien to JK Rowling and EL James – and I like that. It’s all literature, isn’t it… and maybe I should stay away from book snobs?