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.
July 12th, 2008 at 4:12 pm · Link
I love romance and I tell anyone who will listen!
July 12th, 2008 at 10:45 pm · Link
I used to be a bit of pansy about my reading choice. Now I’m too busy and old to care. LOL. I just read it and show my cover proudly.
July 12th, 2008 at 11:27 pm · Link
I’m a firm believer in the saying misery likes company. Miserable people do miserable things so everyone else can join them in their land of misery. Well I’m not buying. Nope, you don’t like me or my choices, stiff. I love telling people I read romance, erotic romance, any kind of romance. Say it loud, say it proud!
July 13th, 2008 at 4:17 am · Link
Reading is one of the great joys and plaesures of ny life. I am too old to give a thought to what others think of my choices.
With the rate of illitercy in the country more
should be focused on the generations we are loosing. Without the written word regardless of format, genre or theme is what separates Civilization from fear and knowledge is power. So I never apologize for reading. Thanks for the great comment Lauren.
July 13th, 2008 at 10:09 am · Link
Joy – LOL, good for you!
Shelli – me too, I’m too old to care
Rhian – I think that’s very true.
Mary – yep!
July 13th, 2008 at 11:43 pm · Link
Well said, Lauren! On the flip side of the same coin, I once said to a writer that we are entertainers, part of the leisure industry, and she was horrified. LOL! What’s wrong with entertaining people. 😉
July 14th, 2008 at 10:23 am · Link
I love love love love love reading. Love. I’ll say it again. Love. And what I read by choice is 99.98% romance. [I have to read a lot of things I’d rather not. The joys of being a student.]
Most of my friends don’t know I read romance, because it’s not worth it. They don’t understand, have never picked up a romance in their life, but feel free – and entitled to make fun of it. There’s no point in annoying me and wasting my time etc. in ranting about it.
When I first started reading romances, I went for the “tamer” covers – and tried to avoid the giant orange sticker with the red heart branding it as a “trashy romance.” Also snuck around the paperback stacks. Now, I go in, and peruse happily, taking my time. Although… sometimes the covers are a bit ridiculous and I will chuckle. But it’s all in fun.
July 14th, 2008 at 7:57 pm · Link
I love reading and everyone who knows me, knows that about me. I always have a book or my ebookwise in my purse and on the off chase I’ll get stuck somewhere without a book, I’ve got a small box in my truck with about 10-15 books in it so I’ll have those handy when needed. 🙂