So, here’s my first post about books, because a conversation with my grandparents the other day got me thinking about reading, and the way that people tend to place the reading of certain books (e.g. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which I’ve read) over the reading of others (e.g. corny fantasy novels, which I’ve also read). Now, to begin, I am indeed an English Lit major and a huge book geek. I fully understand and respect the academic and literary merit of books that people would call literature over the Harry Potter Series (SERIOUSLY NO HATRED TOWARDS HP; I’VE READ THE ENTIRE SERIES LITERALLY 15 TIMES), or a Nicholas Sparks novel (also great). I am not saying that there’s no reason to grant merit to the actual books for being socially and academically significant–there obviously is. We wouldn’t still be reading The Great Gatsby today without reason.
I am not talking about books here, I am talking about READING, and the fact that we live in a world where people aren’t doing enough of it. Us people who read should probably go ahead and stop sticking our noses up at the mystery fanatics, or the people who rarely venture out of the romance section, or those who don’t really enjoy a story without a nice dragon. Reading, no matter the genre, benefits us intellectually and increases our understanding of the world. Period.
Until I was fifteen, I rarely picked up a book with any literary merit at all (and even then, I was typically reading them for a school assignment), with the exception of Watership Down in the sixth grade (I was pretty much the nerdiest 11 year old to grace the halls of my middle school), Tom Sawyer (which I was OBSESSED WITH), and The Secret Garden (I still have the same copy of that book, and the pages are falling out.) Between the ages of 6 and 14, I read for pleasure, and nearly everything I read was about either talking animals, Camelot, witches and warlocks, or a combination of all of the above. From 14 to 18, I fell into the whole young-adult “realistic” fiction genre, which were basically a bunch of goofy romance and friendship stories that held perhaps even less merit than the fantasy novels I devoured in middle school.
In spite of my seemingly “poor” taste in books for the majority of my life thus far, doing all of that reading ended up putting me at a collegiate reading level by the time I was 13. I am certain that doing so much non-academic reading throughout my life contributed to my good standardized test scores, my 4.0 gpa in high school, and my current success as an undergraduate literature major interpreting much more difficult literary works with historical, social and critical contexts. And guys, I got to this point by reading the Redwall series at 12 (which, if you know a fantasy-geek 14 year old who hasn’t read those books, you need to buy them one, like, yesterday.)
Now, in college, I’ve been known to pick up books like On the Road, Frankenstein and anything by F. Scott to read just because I want to read them. But that doesn’t mean I have stopped reading some of my favorite books of all time–I reread them because they have moved me in some way, academic or not. To sum up!
My point is this: do yourself a favor and don’t be a reading snob. People hate reading snobs, and you could be missing out on some really great fellow book nerds, and some equally great BOOKS, just because you think you are above them. Appreciate other people who love the written word as much as you do, and you won’t regret it.
So! Some of my most favorite books ever (not in any particular order of likelihood to find them in an English syllabus). I’ll review a few of these at a later date:
None of the book cover photos included in this post are my own. That’s all I’ve got on books (for today). Peace all. Keep reading!