Earlier today I read an entry over at Booksquare that had me nodding my head – The Reading Problem. I’ve touched on this several times but it can’t be said enough frankly.
Reading, by some, is treated like a solemn communion, a sacred ritual, something done — done right, anyway — by the few who cherish delicate jewels of books. They read with a certain grim smugness, completely forgetting that reading, as Kevin Smokler said at Book Expo America 2008, “is an act of hedonistic joy.”
He then went on to ask, not rhetorically, “Why are we so terrified of calling reading fun?”
Yes, why? Why do we have such a terrible fear of being judged by people we don’t know on that metaphorical bus (you know the I can’t read this on the bus thread)? Who cares? This is a real question.
We spend so much time worried about what someone thinks about our reading choices we handwring and worry about things we can’t change. We cry about how romance won’t be respected until we do X (change covers, write about so and so subject matter, whatever).
All this stuff takes the fun out of reading. At least to me. I have enough stuff to worry over, stuff I can’t change any more than I can change someone’s opinion of romance based on 1970’s stereotypes and deep seeded feelings that women and anything to do with women being intellectually and morally inferior.
I don’t need my reading choices to be morally suprerior to anyone else’s. I just don’t care. I like to read! I like to read lots of stuff across multiple genres and frankly I am too old to give a rat’s patootie whether someone I don’t know thinks I’m stupid or I have cooties because the title is in pink or there are abs on the cover. I like pink and I like rock hard abs. Sue me, think I’m dumb, whatever.
Reading should be something you enjoy. Being ashamed of what we like to read because of other people’s issues with it takes the fun out of it. So then what? We have a nation of people who pretend they’re all reading literature but aren’t. We have endless angsty threads whereupon we try and make ourselves fitter, smarter, more acceptible to other genres and readers or authors. It’s a waste of time to feel guilty or inferior and it’s unnecessary.
Like what you like for heaven’s sake! Read what you like and who cares what that guy across the aisle from you on the train home thinks?
Reach into different genres to see what they can offer you, absolutely. Challenge yourself too. But don’t be ashamed of your reading preferences, don’t let the haters of the world suck your joy away.