The Myth of ‘Important’ Literature…

Working in a library I’m constantly being asked by customers for book suggestions and I love discussing books with them. Exchanging recommendations and favourite authors with strangers is fascinating to me. But recently I had a conversation that really got me thinking about how different people view reading. It all began with a middle aged man in a brown suede blazer and tortoise shell glasses talking about his ‘reading schedule’. He was telling me how every month he aimed to read at least one classic, one book to movie and one new book. When I asked why he told me it was because he didn’t want to miss anything out. When I asked if he enjoyed the books he was reading he mumbled something about experiencing important literature.

But what is ‘important’ literature?

I’ll admit that I have only read something like two of the classics. For the most part, alot of them don’t appeal to me and school put me off many of them purely by forcing me to read them when I didn’t want to. I understand their significance, I understand why we study them in school, but I don’t understand why people feel so obligated to read them even if they don’t necessarily enjoy them.

It ties into something that I have always had issues with and for the sake of this post I’m going to call it “book shaming”. What I mean by this is the idea that some books are valid ‘literature’ and others are ‘trashy’ or not worth reading. I’ve experienced this alot at work with the teenagers and children that come in with their parents and it scares me. Parents will come in and tell their children that the books they want to read aren’t right. That they should read Charles Dickens not Adam Blade or Holly Webb. It baffles me that people would do that! I understand wanting people no matter what their age to expand their reading, to read outside of their usual genre or away from their favourite author but to tell somebody that their books are less important then others is terrible.

I have always believed and always will believe that reading is good no matter what you choose to read. If you want to read supernatural fanfiction then go for it! If your 35 but want to read teen books then enjoy! Reading is a wonderful thing that can give you an out from day to day life so enjoy it, don’t turn it into a chore or an obligation. Let books be your escape not your prison.

 

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2 comments

  1. I would add on that I think reading stuff like the news and blog and watching blogs and tutorials are just as enriching and can teach just as much as “classic literature.”

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