Thursday, June 5, 2008

BTT: warning, who cares!

bookingthroughthurs

Have your book-tastes changed over the years? More fiction? Less? Books that are darker and more serious? Lighter and more frivolous? Challenging? Easy? How-to books over novels? Mysteries over Romance?

Oh, wow are you sure you want to ask me that!!?!?!?! Well, I am sure! I have developed a security in my reading choices over my (short) years. Especially when starting out at Oregon State University as a lit. major, it was easy to get caught up in the mentality- if it isn't absolutely, insanely boring and horrid to get though you are not punishing yourself enough by reading it, and you should go to the lib. and grab one that will bore you to tears in order for it to be a proper lit read!!!!!!
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Now I read what I want, I am secure in my choices and I go by no one elses standards, only my own. I have developed a security that a good book is something you do have to read, but not something that you earn by reading the stupid (sorry) 800 pages until you arrive at. Yes, this is still a common feeling between English majors especially- not so much in my major Spanish Lit. since that is more focused on magical realism and diversity, and immigration and the value of all human beings.
The feelings of insufficiency creep in every once in a while when I am asked (by my book club) to read books such as Anna Karenina, or what we are supposed to have read by this Saturday Portrait of a Lady by Henry James....My insecurities creep under my pillow at night and I feel that if I were a true reader I would EARN my stripes, in a self punishment type of way. However deep down I have learned that I need not punish myself for reading, I will read what I enjoy and have developed the security to back that up! No more do I have the need to it-would-look-good, or then-you-would-have-read-that-classic! I do enjoy some classics, and if I enjoy them, I read them....if not...I have realized in my life I have no one to please, not need to match up, and I can even read chick lit and not feel brainless. I read what I choose, not what will make me look good.

Sorry to load emotion to this answer...but it was there, asking to be spoken for.
How do you feel, why do you read a book, do you secretly hope that someone sees the cover and thinks of you in a certain way, or are you embarrassed to read a brainless book because then you could be considered an average reader??


16 comments:

devourerofbooks said...

Okay, that was a really interesting answer. I'm generally a secure enough reader that I don't find any of my covers embarrassing. If someone knows me well they will have seen me with a different book every 3-4 days anyway, so they won't judge me by the one book. If it is just someone on the train or something, then I don't really care anyway.

However, I'm also a pretentious enough reader that I like to 'show off' some of my titles...

gautami tripathy said...

Now I read at my own pace. Previously it was as if I had to complete certain books in certain period of time. And yes, I do like to flaunt my books.

:D

bethany said...

derouererofbooks- I think we are all a little into pretentiousness...no matter how much we try. Yes, I do like to show off my titles, as well...but I have moved from what I think would please them to what pleases me and the ones that I truly enjoy are now my show-off books!

gautami tripathy- flaunt!!! oh, that is fun...I enjoy it when people walk in my home and are immediately drawn to my bookshelves..then I know I have a true reader-friend!

katrina said...

When I first started uni for my English Lit degree I felt that I had to catch up with all the 'clever' books everyone else had read and that I thought I should read. I may be able to say I have read a load of those 'should read' books, but in a lot of cases I couln't tell you much about them

writer2b said...

I too spent lots of years in literary study, and felt that dutiful impulse to set aside anything but "should reads." But thankfully I've rediscovered my own tastes and my own joy in reading again.

beastmomma said...

I do have some concern about what people think when they see the cover I am reading. However, the concern does not stop me from reading whatever I want!

bethany said...

katrina- yes, catch up! I know that feeling! I know, especially when you have to read them 5 at a time through college they all tend to blur together. I enjoy them now more! some I have gone back and re-read and they are fabulous!

writer2b- the dutiful reader. it is so much better to not be that...I agree. Reading is fun and passionate, there are dry moments. I too have found my reading niche again!

beastmomma- yeah, I bet we all do...it is what comes with the passion of loving to read. But it is only sad when it dictates what we read...don't you think?

Jan said...

I read many of the classics and "should read" books when I was younger. Now I read what I want and enjoy my books immensely!

bethany said...

jan- that is the way to do it!! I love reading now too...unless I get really behind on my challenges (hahaha!).

jlshall said...

Very good answer. I've also arrived at a point where I don't feel the need to please anyone but myself in the books I choose to read. And I never want to think of "reading" and "punishment" at the same time!

literatehousewife said...

The reading security thing must be very common among English majors. I've just now conquered it in my mid-30s. BTW, I have Matrimony coming up in my reading. It will be interesting to compare notes on that one.

Maree said...

I've got to the stage where I don't really care what other people think of what I read. And as for "should read" books ... well, I'm not at university anymore, and no one can make me read something I don't want to.

Debi said...

I loved reading your answer! Why? Because it made me feel better about myself! Okay, I honestly don't worry all that much about what people think of my reading habits, but still I get it into my head now and then that I need to "improve myself"...and I do things like join the Jane Austen Reading Challenge because I've never read anything by her and feel like I should. Well, I went down in flames on that one...could only get through about 50 pages of Sense & Sensibility before I just had to admit to myself that I just wasn't meant to be quite that classy a reader. :) I'll be interested to see what you think of her books if you read them for the Classics Challenge. (I seem to be the only heathen out here who just doesn't like them.) Anyway, all that babbling just to say that it was refreshing to read your answer!

John's comments said...

Interesting post. I'm Late this week but the topic prompted a reflective account on the issues

Trish said...

It all boils down to you have to read what you want to--not necessarily what you are "supposed to" Who the hell decides that anyway?? I'm not a big fan of James--think his work is dry.

For me the English lit books weren't bad--it was just the fact that I HAD to read them. I have always been one who doesn't enjoy what I HAVE to do as much as what I WANT to do. This seeps into my reading as well.

Julie said...

"If it isn't absolutely, insanely boring and horrid to get though you are not punishing yourself enough by reading it."

Oh ha ha! That is exactly why I decided NOT to major in English, despite being a lifelong bookworm.