Edith is deep in Manuscript Madness and has invoked the Wench Classic Clause. Below is a blog post from April of 2007, as pertinent today as it was then. ~Sherrie
Yes. True. They just don’t read books. Now, these folks are literate. They read newspapers and advertisements, and the occasional magazine. But they don’t read books, fiction or non-fiction.
I can’t understand it. But so it is.
What’s worse though, in my opinion, are those who do read books – but only those they see in reviews in the NEW YORK TIMES, THE NEW YORKER and other influential magazines, or those books being touted on TV. These readers are in the same class as people who belong to book clubs and only read what’s assigned to them. Goes without saying that these misguided folk don’t read any genre fiction unless it’s being touted by their Literary Authorities – they are only reading so that they can talk about what they read and be considered intelligent.
For all they read, I don’t think any of these people are literate in the truest sense of the word. They’d never walk into a bookstore and just look around, browsing through all the aisles, glancing at covers, reading blurbs and bits, seeing what might interest them. That idea would just be alien to them. Read something they haven’t heard about? A book their friends, or the people they look to as notable, aren’t reading? Be seen with a book no one that they know reviewed? Or buy a paperback, especially an unknown one with a sexy or lurid cover? These readers will never do that. They sneer at such books.
I have to giggle when I see such former paperback romances reissued in hardcover when the author gets famous and on the bestseller list, and these same people reading books they wouldn’t have touched in the original. (As to that – while they say hot covers make it easier for romance readers to identify their faves that way, its still arguable whether or not those covers, while holding on to their fan base, ever bring in new readers, and will ever let romance readers and writers be taken seriously. Discuss among yourselves.)
Still, to only read the already read and approved? Bah, fah, and humbug. To me, the thrill of discovery is part of the literate experience. Finding an unknown author in any genre and then falling in love with the style and enjoyment of the writing is a delicious experience. Those folks will never know that thrill of discovery.
Of course I read romances and historical novels; I adore them. But I read everything that looks interesting, no matter the genre. I love fantasy, and mysteries: police and P.I., historical and modern, serious and funny ones. Science fiction, I teethed on those and love the good ones even now. I’ve even tried erotic, exotic, experimental and mainstream fiction too. (Although not horror. I’m too impressionable and always hear things that go bump in the night anyway.)
For example, I discovered Terry Pratchett’s first Discworld novel in paperback, and it in paperback – with a silly cover as well. But it intrigued me and I bought it, and was utterly enthralled, and became hooked on his books. A CIVIL CONTRACT got me fascinated with Miles Vorkosigan, and started my reading Louise McMasters Boujold (albeit backward, from CC, the last book written, to the first in the series.) I’ve found many other authors by browsing: some who became famous, some who didn’t; some who never lived up to the promise although they published again.
I must admit I have tossed some of these randomly selected books before finishing them. But when I hit a winner, I so enjoy the adventure of finding it on my own that I don’t mind the occasional disappointment.
Book browsing and gambling on new authors or those new to you is fun. It’s a thing, I fear, that many people I know will never ever know, no matter how much they read. Have you ever picked up a book you didn’t intend to buy, never thought to buy, and been seduced by something – anything about it? And then found yourself with a new writer you adore? Only then, are you, in my estimation, truly literate. Congratulations.