Total Litiots II

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 

Total Litiots

Mom_thumbnailI know people, and I even like some of them, who don’t read books.

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.

Booksnob_2What’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.

45 thoughts on “Total Litiots II”

  1. The Bujold title is A Civil Campaign.
    A Civil Contract is the Georgette Heyer book (which I dearly loved when I first read it and still do).

    Reply
  2. The Bujold title is A Civil Campaign.
    A Civil Contract is the Georgette Heyer book (which I dearly loved when I first read it and still do).

    Reply
  3. The Bujold title is A Civil Campaign.
    A Civil Contract is the Georgette Heyer book (which I dearly loved when I first read it and still do).

    Reply
  4. The Bujold title is A Civil Campaign.
    A Civil Contract is the Georgette Heyer book (which I dearly loved when I first read it and still do).

    Reply
  5. The Bujold title is A Civil Campaign.
    A Civil Contract is the Georgette Heyer book (which I dearly loved when I first read it and still do).

    Reply
  6. I’ll try out new romance authors all the time. I’ve found a lot of great books that way. I concentrate on romance, but I do read other genres, like mystery and fantasy, although with all the great romances I’ve found, my TBR pile keeps growing bigger and bigger.
    Sounds like the type of reader you describe makes the already-popular authors more popular, and newer ones don’t have much of a chance.

    Reply
  7. I’ll try out new romance authors all the time. I’ve found a lot of great books that way. I concentrate on romance, but I do read other genres, like mystery and fantasy, although with all the great romances I’ve found, my TBR pile keeps growing bigger and bigger.
    Sounds like the type of reader you describe makes the already-popular authors more popular, and newer ones don’t have much of a chance.

    Reply
  8. I’ll try out new romance authors all the time. I’ve found a lot of great books that way. I concentrate on romance, but I do read other genres, like mystery and fantasy, although with all the great romances I’ve found, my TBR pile keeps growing bigger and bigger.
    Sounds like the type of reader you describe makes the already-popular authors more popular, and newer ones don’t have much of a chance.

    Reply
  9. I’ll try out new romance authors all the time. I’ve found a lot of great books that way. I concentrate on romance, but I do read other genres, like mystery and fantasy, although with all the great romances I’ve found, my TBR pile keeps growing bigger and bigger.
    Sounds like the type of reader you describe makes the already-popular authors more popular, and newer ones don’t have much of a chance.

    Reply
  10. I’ll try out new romance authors all the time. I’ve found a lot of great books that way. I concentrate on romance, but I do read other genres, like mystery and fantasy, although with all the great romances I’ve found, my TBR pile keeps growing bigger and bigger.
    Sounds like the type of reader you describe makes the already-popular authors more popular, and newer ones don’t have much of a chance.

    Reply
  11. Linda, you’re right about Edith’s not-literary readers, but it’s people like you who build tomorrow’s authors. Thank you!
    I used to read indiscriminately, picking up books because they looked fun. Like Edith, I purchased Pratchett that way. But my reading time is so limited, and the choices are so many these days, that I’m forced to read reviews and check out excerpts before I ever hit the bookstore. My guilty habit, though, is to order books from the recommendations of friends even though they don’t sound like something I would normally read. I’ve discovered some great new talent that way!

    Reply
  12. Linda, you’re right about Edith’s not-literary readers, but it’s people like you who build tomorrow’s authors. Thank you!
    I used to read indiscriminately, picking up books because they looked fun. Like Edith, I purchased Pratchett that way. But my reading time is so limited, and the choices are so many these days, that I’m forced to read reviews and check out excerpts before I ever hit the bookstore. My guilty habit, though, is to order books from the recommendations of friends even though they don’t sound like something I would normally read. I’ve discovered some great new talent that way!

    Reply
  13. Linda, you’re right about Edith’s not-literary readers, but it’s people like you who build tomorrow’s authors. Thank you!
    I used to read indiscriminately, picking up books because they looked fun. Like Edith, I purchased Pratchett that way. But my reading time is so limited, and the choices are so many these days, that I’m forced to read reviews and check out excerpts before I ever hit the bookstore. My guilty habit, though, is to order books from the recommendations of friends even though they don’t sound like something I would normally read. I’ve discovered some great new talent that way!

    Reply
  14. Linda, you’re right about Edith’s not-literary readers, but it’s people like you who build tomorrow’s authors. Thank you!
    I used to read indiscriminately, picking up books because they looked fun. Like Edith, I purchased Pratchett that way. But my reading time is so limited, and the choices are so many these days, that I’m forced to read reviews and check out excerpts before I ever hit the bookstore. My guilty habit, though, is to order books from the recommendations of friends even though they don’t sound like something I would normally read. I’ve discovered some great new talent that way!

    Reply
  15. Linda, you’re right about Edith’s not-literary readers, but it’s people like you who build tomorrow’s authors. Thank you!
    I used to read indiscriminately, picking up books because they looked fun. Like Edith, I purchased Pratchett that way. But my reading time is so limited, and the choices are so many these days, that I’m forced to read reviews and check out excerpts before I ever hit the bookstore. My guilty habit, though, is to order books from the recommendations of friends even though they don’t sound like something I would normally read. I’ve discovered some great new talent that way!

    Reply
  16. For the past several years I have found new writers from the half dozen blogs ( this one too) that I check on a regular basis. Also from e-mail exerpts that are sent to me*. Found several writers that way and then went on to find their backlist. They have been romance, historical, and mystery writers.

    Reply
  17. For the past several years I have found new writers from the half dozen blogs ( this one too) that I check on a regular basis. Also from e-mail exerpts that are sent to me*. Found several writers that way and then went on to find their backlist. They have been romance, historical, and mystery writers.

    Reply
  18. For the past several years I have found new writers from the half dozen blogs ( this one too) that I check on a regular basis. Also from e-mail exerpts that are sent to me*. Found several writers that way and then went on to find their backlist. They have been romance, historical, and mystery writers.

    Reply
  19. For the past several years I have found new writers from the half dozen blogs ( this one too) that I check on a regular basis. Also from e-mail exerpts that are sent to me*. Found several writers that way and then went on to find their backlist. They have been romance, historical, and mystery writers.

    Reply
  20. For the past several years I have found new writers from the half dozen blogs ( this one too) that I check on a regular basis. Also from e-mail exerpts that are sent to me*. Found several writers that way and then went on to find their backlist. They have been romance, historical, and mystery writers.

    Reply
  21. Pat, your guilty habit is my guilty habit. I trust the recommendations of friends and like you, I have “met” some really great books and authors that way.
    I do read reviews, but lately I’m becoming more and more skeptical of the online review sites. Granted, there are some genuinely legitimate sites out there, with knowledgeable reviewers who judge each book by the same criteria and whose reviews are polished and grammatically correct.
    Some reviewers, however, need to bone up on basic grammar and spelling. They need to get the names of the characters right. They need to spell the author’s name correctly. These same reviewers give glowing reviews to their friends’ books, regardless of how bad they are, or you find reviewers who will give your book a good review if you give her book a good review. So then you learn to distrust the reviewers.

    Reply
  22. Pat, your guilty habit is my guilty habit. I trust the recommendations of friends and like you, I have “met” some really great books and authors that way.
    I do read reviews, but lately I’m becoming more and more skeptical of the online review sites. Granted, there are some genuinely legitimate sites out there, with knowledgeable reviewers who judge each book by the same criteria and whose reviews are polished and grammatically correct.
    Some reviewers, however, need to bone up on basic grammar and spelling. They need to get the names of the characters right. They need to spell the author’s name correctly. These same reviewers give glowing reviews to their friends’ books, regardless of how bad they are, or you find reviewers who will give your book a good review if you give her book a good review. So then you learn to distrust the reviewers.

    Reply
  23. Pat, your guilty habit is my guilty habit. I trust the recommendations of friends and like you, I have “met” some really great books and authors that way.
    I do read reviews, but lately I’m becoming more and more skeptical of the online review sites. Granted, there are some genuinely legitimate sites out there, with knowledgeable reviewers who judge each book by the same criteria and whose reviews are polished and grammatically correct.
    Some reviewers, however, need to bone up on basic grammar and spelling. They need to get the names of the characters right. They need to spell the author’s name correctly. These same reviewers give glowing reviews to their friends’ books, regardless of how bad they are, or you find reviewers who will give your book a good review if you give her book a good review. So then you learn to distrust the reviewers.

    Reply
  24. Pat, your guilty habit is my guilty habit. I trust the recommendations of friends and like you, I have “met” some really great books and authors that way.
    I do read reviews, but lately I’m becoming more and more skeptical of the online review sites. Granted, there are some genuinely legitimate sites out there, with knowledgeable reviewers who judge each book by the same criteria and whose reviews are polished and grammatically correct.
    Some reviewers, however, need to bone up on basic grammar and spelling. They need to get the names of the characters right. They need to spell the author’s name correctly. These same reviewers give glowing reviews to their friends’ books, regardless of how bad they are, or you find reviewers who will give your book a good review if you give her book a good review. So then you learn to distrust the reviewers.

    Reply
  25. Pat, your guilty habit is my guilty habit. I trust the recommendations of friends and like you, I have “met” some really great books and authors that way.
    I do read reviews, but lately I’m becoming more and more skeptical of the online review sites. Granted, there are some genuinely legitimate sites out there, with knowledgeable reviewers who judge each book by the same criteria and whose reviews are polished and grammatically correct.
    Some reviewers, however, need to bone up on basic grammar and spelling. They need to get the names of the characters right. They need to spell the author’s name correctly. These same reviewers give glowing reviews to their friends’ books, regardless of how bad they are, or you find reviewers who will give your book a good review if you give her book a good review. So then you learn to distrust the reviewers.

    Reply
  26. I know several people who read voraciously as I do, but not at all for the same reasons.
    My sister in law reads whatever is a book of the moment so that she will have something to talk about with her friends, who will also likely have read the same one, as will her church book club. None of them read what I think of as genre fiction (romance, mystery, sf, western, fantasy, yucky horror), but all have read many books that wouldn’t even cross my radar – the sort of books that Oprah might have on. If Oprah ever has a book by one of the Wenches on, then I guess their attention will be drawn to it and they’ll read it. Their goal is to be social, au courant — and I can’t really argue with them about that because I see that it has served them well – lifelong friendships, a circle of friends that is there through thick & thin (and there’s been a lot of thin lately).
    Then there’s also the secretary I knew at work who always read through her lunch hour and would read any sort of dark crime/suspense thing. I asked her about her reading one time, and she said it was something to do and she just picked up whatever paperback she fancied whenever she made a Costco run. She didn’t go to bookstores, or see any need to. She did say she didn’t like historical fiction because it had too many unfamiliar words.
    It would be easy to say that they’re both just stupid women and dismiss them, but they’re not. They just don’t read for the same reasons we might.
    I, on the other hand, read fiction strictly for entertainment, and if it doesn’t entertain me, I’m not going to read it. In fact, I generally can’t. The days when I had the will to slog through an entire awful novel because somebody wanted me to are totally over.

    Reply
  27. I know several people who read voraciously as I do, but not at all for the same reasons.
    My sister in law reads whatever is a book of the moment so that she will have something to talk about with her friends, who will also likely have read the same one, as will her church book club. None of them read what I think of as genre fiction (romance, mystery, sf, western, fantasy, yucky horror), but all have read many books that wouldn’t even cross my radar – the sort of books that Oprah might have on. If Oprah ever has a book by one of the Wenches on, then I guess their attention will be drawn to it and they’ll read it. Their goal is to be social, au courant — and I can’t really argue with them about that because I see that it has served them well – lifelong friendships, a circle of friends that is there through thick & thin (and there’s been a lot of thin lately).
    Then there’s also the secretary I knew at work who always read through her lunch hour and would read any sort of dark crime/suspense thing. I asked her about her reading one time, and she said it was something to do and she just picked up whatever paperback she fancied whenever she made a Costco run. She didn’t go to bookstores, or see any need to. She did say she didn’t like historical fiction because it had too many unfamiliar words.
    It would be easy to say that they’re both just stupid women and dismiss them, but they’re not. They just don’t read for the same reasons we might.
    I, on the other hand, read fiction strictly for entertainment, and if it doesn’t entertain me, I’m not going to read it. In fact, I generally can’t. The days when I had the will to slog through an entire awful novel because somebody wanted me to are totally over.

    Reply
  28. I know several people who read voraciously as I do, but not at all for the same reasons.
    My sister in law reads whatever is a book of the moment so that she will have something to talk about with her friends, who will also likely have read the same one, as will her church book club. None of them read what I think of as genre fiction (romance, mystery, sf, western, fantasy, yucky horror), but all have read many books that wouldn’t even cross my radar – the sort of books that Oprah might have on. If Oprah ever has a book by one of the Wenches on, then I guess their attention will be drawn to it and they’ll read it. Their goal is to be social, au courant — and I can’t really argue with them about that because I see that it has served them well – lifelong friendships, a circle of friends that is there through thick & thin (and there’s been a lot of thin lately).
    Then there’s also the secretary I knew at work who always read through her lunch hour and would read any sort of dark crime/suspense thing. I asked her about her reading one time, and she said it was something to do and she just picked up whatever paperback she fancied whenever she made a Costco run. She didn’t go to bookstores, or see any need to. She did say she didn’t like historical fiction because it had too many unfamiliar words.
    It would be easy to say that they’re both just stupid women and dismiss them, but they’re not. They just don’t read for the same reasons we might.
    I, on the other hand, read fiction strictly for entertainment, and if it doesn’t entertain me, I’m not going to read it. In fact, I generally can’t. The days when I had the will to slog through an entire awful novel because somebody wanted me to are totally over.

    Reply
  29. I know several people who read voraciously as I do, but not at all for the same reasons.
    My sister in law reads whatever is a book of the moment so that she will have something to talk about with her friends, who will also likely have read the same one, as will her church book club. None of them read what I think of as genre fiction (romance, mystery, sf, western, fantasy, yucky horror), but all have read many books that wouldn’t even cross my radar – the sort of books that Oprah might have on. If Oprah ever has a book by one of the Wenches on, then I guess their attention will be drawn to it and they’ll read it. Their goal is to be social, au courant — and I can’t really argue with them about that because I see that it has served them well – lifelong friendships, a circle of friends that is there through thick & thin (and there’s been a lot of thin lately).
    Then there’s also the secretary I knew at work who always read through her lunch hour and would read any sort of dark crime/suspense thing. I asked her about her reading one time, and she said it was something to do and she just picked up whatever paperback she fancied whenever she made a Costco run. She didn’t go to bookstores, or see any need to. She did say she didn’t like historical fiction because it had too many unfamiliar words.
    It would be easy to say that they’re both just stupid women and dismiss them, but they’re not. They just don’t read for the same reasons we might.
    I, on the other hand, read fiction strictly for entertainment, and if it doesn’t entertain me, I’m not going to read it. In fact, I generally can’t. The days when I had the will to slog through an entire awful novel because somebody wanted me to are totally over.

    Reply
  30. I know several people who read voraciously as I do, but not at all for the same reasons.
    My sister in law reads whatever is a book of the moment so that she will have something to talk about with her friends, who will also likely have read the same one, as will her church book club. None of them read what I think of as genre fiction (romance, mystery, sf, western, fantasy, yucky horror), but all have read many books that wouldn’t even cross my radar – the sort of books that Oprah might have on. If Oprah ever has a book by one of the Wenches on, then I guess their attention will be drawn to it and they’ll read it. Their goal is to be social, au courant — and I can’t really argue with them about that because I see that it has served them well – lifelong friendships, a circle of friends that is there through thick & thin (and there’s been a lot of thin lately).
    Then there’s also the secretary I knew at work who always read through her lunch hour and would read any sort of dark crime/suspense thing. I asked her about her reading one time, and she said it was something to do and she just picked up whatever paperback she fancied whenever she made a Costco run. She didn’t go to bookstores, or see any need to. She did say she didn’t like historical fiction because it had too many unfamiliar words.
    It would be easy to say that they’re both just stupid women and dismiss them, but they’re not. They just don’t read for the same reasons we might.
    I, on the other hand, read fiction strictly for entertainment, and if it doesn’t entertain me, I’m not going to read it. In fact, I generally can’t. The days when I had the will to slog through an entire awful novel because somebody wanted me to are totally over.

    Reply
  31. Like Janice said, people read for different reasons. People also process information in different ways – some people rely on word of mouth, some on newspapers or TV, some on blogs, some on visual clues… I really can’t see why walking in a bookstore and browsing around is inherently better than reading reviews and picking books according to that, or even reading only bestsellers. We all have to make a choice, and if it serves you – fine. The fact that some people do or do not read genre fiction does not make them better or worse readers, just as the fact that you do or do not read literature and the classics does not make you a better or worse reader. We all read for different reasons and are looking for different things in books, and I shy away from judging anyone at all for their choice of reading. If we “condemn” people for reading only what’s popular in certain cirlces, do we also condemn those who do not read anything but their prefered genre and subgenre? I strongly believe that every book read is a gain for the reader, no matter which genre or group the book belongs to. And that goes for books I would not touch, ever as well as for firm favourites. I might not like everything everyone else is rading (I sure don’t) but I am glad they are reading at all, and I defend their right to make their own choices on whatever grounds suits them. And now I will shut up and get off my soapbox, embarrassed….

    Reply
  32. Like Janice said, people read for different reasons. People also process information in different ways – some people rely on word of mouth, some on newspapers or TV, some on blogs, some on visual clues… I really can’t see why walking in a bookstore and browsing around is inherently better than reading reviews and picking books according to that, or even reading only bestsellers. We all have to make a choice, and if it serves you – fine. The fact that some people do or do not read genre fiction does not make them better or worse readers, just as the fact that you do or do not read literature and the classics does not make you a better or worse reader. We all read for different reasons and are looking for different things in books, and I shy away from judging anyone at all for their choice of reading. If we “condemn” people for reading only what’s popular in certain cirlces, do we also condemn those who do not read anything but their prefered genre and subgenre? I strongly believe that every book read is a gain for the reader, no matter which genre or group the book belongs to. And that goes for books I would not touch, ever as well as for firm favourites. I might not like everything everyone else is rading (I sure don’t) but I am glad they are reading at all, and I defend their right to make their own choices on whatever grounds suits them. And now I will shut up and get off my soapbox, embarrassed….

    Reply
  33. Like Janice said, people read for different reasons. People also process information in different ways – some people rely on word of mouth, some on newspapers or TV, some on blogs, some on visual clues… I really can’t see why walking in a bookstore and browsing around is inherently better than reading reviews and picking books according to that, or even reading only bestsellers. We all have to make a choice, and if it serves you – fine. The fact that some people do or do not read genre fiction does not make them better or worse readers, just as the fact that you do or do not read literature and the classics does not make you a better or worse reader. We all read for different reasons and are looking for different things in books, and I shy away from judging anyone at all for their choice of reading. If we “condemn” people for reading only what’s popular in certain cirlces, do we also condemn those who do not read anything but their prefered genre and subgenre? I strongly believe that every book read is a gain for the reader, no matter which genre or group the book belongs to. And that goes for books I would not touch, ever as well as for firm favourites. I might not like everything everyone else is rading (I sure don’t) but I am glad they are reading at all, and I defend their right to make their own choices on whatever grounds suits them. And now I will shut up and get off my soapbox, embarrassed….

    Reply
  34. Like Janice said, people read for different reasons. People also process information in different ways – some people rely on word of mouth, some on newspapers or TV, some on blogs, some on visual clues… I really can’t see why walking in a bookstore and browsing around is inherently better than reading reviews and picking books according to that, or even reading only bestsellers. We all have to make a choice, and if it serves you – fine. The fact that some people do or do not read genre fiction does not make them better or worse readers, just as the fact that you do or do not read literature and the classics does not make you a better or worse reader. We all read for different reasons and are looking for different things in books, and I shy away from judging anyone at all for their choice of reading. If we “condemn” people for reading only what’s popular in certain cirlces, do we also condemn those who do not read anything but their prefered genre and subgenre? I strongly believe that every book read is a gain for the reader, no matter which genre or group the book belongs to. And that goes for books I would not touch, ever as well as for firm favourites. I might not like everything everyone else is rading (I sure don’t) but I am glad they are reading at all, and I defend their right to make their own choices on whatever grounds suits them. And now I will shut up and get off my soapbox, embarrassed….

    Reply
  35. Like Janice said, people read for different reasons. People also process information in different ways – some people rely on word of mouth, some on newspapers or TV, some on blogs, some on visual clues… I really can’t see why walking in a bookstore and browsing around is inherently better than reading reviews and picking books according to that, or even reading only bestsellers. We all have to make a choice, and if it serves you – fine. The fact that some people do or do not read genre fiction does not make them better or worse readers, just as the fact that you do or do not read literature and the classics does not make you a better or worse reader. We all read for different reasons and are looking for different things in books, and I shy away from judging anyone at all for their choice of reading. If we “condemn” people for reading only what’s popular in certain cirlces, do we also condemn those who do not read anything but their prefered genre and subgenre? I strongly believe that every book read is a gain for the reader, no matter which genre or group the book belongs to. And that goes for books I would not touch, ever as well as for firm favourites. I might not like everything everyone else is rading (I sure don’t) but I am glad they are reading at all, and I defend their right to make their own choices on whatever grounds suits them. And now I will shut up and get off my soapbox, embarrassed….

    Reply

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