In today's confession, we host the bacon-loving, capetonian with a talent for the written word. you can find her on her website, or tweeting with us birdies on twitter. You can also find Cat's Book, When the Sea is Rising Red at your neareast Exclusive Books.
CONFESSIONS OF A RECOVERING BOOK SNOB
My father introduced me to two amazing things; classic rock and classic SF. I grew up listening to Led Zepplin while reading James Blish, the soundtrack to Stanislaw Lem was Uriah Heep, Jimi Hendrix played the way to Samuel R. Delany. I thought Dune was the Bible, and Sticky Fingers the holy songbook.
As I grew older, I drifted away from the landscape of my father's literature, exploring strange new islands: Huxley, Hesse, Fitzgerald, Le Guin, Atwood. And I ended up constantly going this way and that between them. I love speculative fiction and the way it sees the world, and I love the prose and playfulness in these other novels. I am happiest when stranded on some skerry that rises between them – where the language of ideas meets the ideas of language.
So what's my confession then? That I'm never going to be happy with either side of the great literary divide? That because of my tastes I can whiplash between deed and denial faster than you can say Margaret Atwood?
Well, no. It's quite simply that I am a reading snob. See, I was perfectly okay with dropping all those names up there. They make me sound vaguely literate, right? It's unlikely that you'll look at any of them and go, “well I wouldn't be caught dead admitting I read that rubbish.” (Okay maybe maybe Frank Herbert but I DON'T CARE <<< see, recovering snob)
Because there's a fourth place (isn't there always?) a little beach where the flotsam and jetsam of my reading washes up, and I love those books.
They do not explore any great new truths, or speak to us about the depth of the human condition. They are not lofty, they push no boundaries. Perhaps the best that can be said is that they appeal because of their emotional manipulation, or their use of archetypes so deeply embedded in our dreaming brains that they seem to us as familiar and comforting as nursery toys.
We all have them – our comfort reads, our beach reads, our go-back-and-reread-once-a-year reads. If we were asked to defend our choices, we wouldn't be able to. (“Um...it's nice? I like it?”). And I'm going to say right now that “I like it,” is a perfectly valid reason to read something. To read it and enjoy it and not give a damn about what others think. And those books can be terrible by anyone else's standards but that doesn't mean you get to dismiss them and pretend that you don't really read them while your bookshelves groan under Eugenides and Eco and Murakami.
There's a series of books by Mercedes Lackey - specifically The Last Herald Mage. I read the first one, Magic's Pawn, while eye-rolling my way through the reams of italics and angst, but I didn't stop reading. And I went on to finish the other two books in a day. Because life's too short to get embarrassed about the books you like.
So I'm going to stand up for the stories I love and say, “Because I do.”
Are you a book snob? Tell us!