In honor of World Book Day, I would like to talk about something that many of us don't like to admit, and that some may staunchly disagree with, but that I feel very strongly about. I was so drawn to this topic because I read, well, to say a lot is an understatement. And I believe that I gain something new and magical from each and every one, no matter the genre.
The idea for this entry came to me when I was at a wine tasting and the sommelier said, "The best wine is the wine you like". This went against everything I had previously heard and I found it to be earnest and inspiring. I realized that a lot of the same perceptions and attitudes that people have about wine also apply to books. Take for example this list of books.
Why is it that people feel a need to lie about having read these books? I, personally, have read many of them and I stand by my opinion that they are deadly dull. They may be well crafted, they may have brilliantly tackled issues relevant to the time, they may be an elevated expression of the common man or whatever, but to me, they are boring! They don't speak to me and I don't relate. Does that make me less intelligent, or interesting, or cultured? My answer, is no.
Books and genres are so varied and diverse because they are meant to speak to a vast spectrum of different reading preferences. So, why should I be ashamed that I would rather The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman than The Scarlet Letter or some other title that I only know about because it was in my high school English canon?
Let me be clear – of course, I do not mean to say anything negative about the people who enjoy those books or the people who wrote them. What I do mean to say is that it is okay if they are not your cup of tea.
All forms of writing are valid and so are your preferences in them. The most important thing is that you are reading. Let me repeat that: the most important thing IS THAT YOU ARE READING! I don't care if that is classic literature, nonfiction, philosophy tomes, or comic books. We are fortunate to be one of the most literate countries in the world and that is a gift we should all embrace.
There is one exception to this rule that I wholeheartedly endorse. Ability to read and reading comprehension are not the same thing. For those who struggle with reading, or for those who would just rather listen to a great story than music while driving (i.e, me!), audiobooks are an incredible option. And there is oodles of research confirming that listening to books is just as valuable as reading them.
I think that Neil Gaimon, author of Stardurst, Neverwhere, Coraline and many more, said it best when he said, "Read. Read anything. Read the things they say are good for you, and the things they claim are junk. You’ll find what you need to find. Just read.”
So, next time your friends tease you about your steamy romance novel or your love of manga, ask them when the last time they read anything other than a Facebook post was. Either you will have initiated an interesting dialogue, or reminded them that they will have to go pick up a book themselves before they can judge.
And always remember, watching the movie is not the same as reading the book.
Keep calm and read (or listen) on everyone!