February Stagnation

I wanted to post a quick update because I haven’t been very active lately. In fact, I think this is the most inactive month I’ve had since starting the website. I know I usually simply churn out reviews without adding a personal element, but I felt like saying “hey.”

Lately I have been reading books that are KNOWN to be good. Everyone recommends them and rates them highly. But for some reason, I find it really hard to get immersed in them. I’ve been busying myself with other things, and generally “letting life get in the way.” Right now, I’m partway through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and it is most definitely a slow burn (just like The Book Thief, which took me FOREVER to plough through. Fingers crossed for Code Name Verity, which I think is next on the list). I sometimes feel as though “reputable” literature is similar to highly-rated films (as per pompous film critics) — pretentious, overhyped, and honestly not that pleasurable. In the cases listed above, I do not relate to the characters (hello contemporary YA) nor do I gain a sense of purpose or importance from their lives (looking at dystopian/sci-fi/mystery). It takes a while for me to become invested in their stories, especially if they are from genres I do not normally read.

Whenever I start reading “good” books, I end up reading less, and sometimes even doubt the extent to which I love reading. It has happened while reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, and probably would have happened with Lexicon by Max Barry if I didn’t force myself to keep going (coupled in with a period where I honestly had nothing else to do). It makes me wonder if some people do not read because they are not reading the right type of books. People have come to me talking about how much they dislike reading, and ask for book recommendations because they see the value in reading and want to reap its benefits. And when I ask them about books they have read before, they often list off many supposedly “good” books. It really is a shame, because I bet they would like reading (as an activity) more if only they let themselves read books for pleasure rather than because of societal pressures or the desire to seem better (or otherwise validate themselves).

I often downplay my taste for YA and other books that I truly enjoy. The books may not always be very intellectually stimulating, but they are not useless. They make me compassionate to others. They do not explicitly or apparently teach me new things, but they give insight to other ways of living. They provide an escape into a new world. Most importantly, they make me happy. Really, I should not be ashamed  by the books I like. If you ever feel like you “don’t have time to read,” perhaps you are not reading the right things. Because when you do, you make the time to read. I like my books the way I like music—not for a deep, nuanced appreciation, but with a good hook and catchy melody (even if that means listening to “trashy mainstream” or reading “junky teen fiction”).

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