tamara epps The Vandal BlogWhen I was little I read, I read a lot. I didn’t care what I was reading, so long as I could turn the pages and devour a good story, I was happy. And then, I don’t remember when exactly, I somehow came by the notion that to show I was intellectual I should be reading ‘literary’ books and the Classics. Seriously, I have no idea where I got this idea from and it’s something I’ve struggled with ever since.

To give you an idea of what I mean, when I was 9 I read Dracula – and hated it. I don’t know if it is actually a bad book, I can’t remember enough to comment on it (and I’m relatively certain that I was too young to understand at least half of it). Soon after I tried to read Oliver Twist – I have never made it past the third chapter (I know it’s a great story line and a great study of historical society but do we really need hundreds of pages of description before anything remotely important happens?). And my last example (because I’ve heard three is a power number) is Pride and Prejudice. It took me 2 attempts to finish this book and I’m relatively certain that if I hadn’t seen the film, there is no way I would be able to tell you the plotline now.

Now, just so we’re clear, I’m not saying these are bad books. I know that they are amazing works of art – but they just aren’t to my taste. My point is that when I was a teenager I spent a ridiculous amount of time finding out what I was supposed to read, and what I was supposed to think about certain. I wanted to be sure to impress my teachers and my peers with how literary I was, and the truth is all it did was make me feel inadequate. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t like these books and so I pretended I did.

I’ve grown up a bit since though I know I still struggle with the idea of being accepted. I’m worried that I will be judged by the fact that I read chick-lit. For years I’ve made excuses. Granted, it isn’t the only genre I like but it was something I felt I had to hide. I’ve recently realised that it doesn’t really matter. Everyone is too preoccupied with their own lives to be worried about what I am reading. So my new philosophy is to read because I genuinely want to read; after all, isn’t that the whole point of this pastime? Of course I have no idea what I actually like as I’ve spent so long making sure I’m reading the ‘right’ things so I’m using this time to experiment and find my true tastes. And I’m challenging you to do the same. Really think about what you read/write/listen to and ask yourself, completely honestly, why? If it’s truly like it then good for you, but otherwise, consider trying something else and giving yourself a chance to find something that really makes you want more and more and more.

My guest blogger today: Tamara Epps

Tamara’s Blog : http://emptythoughtsrewritten.blogspot.com
Find Tamara on Twitter: @Tamara_Epps

On Being Literary

32 thoughts on “On Being Literary

  • 25/06/2011 at 12:50 am
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    Amazing post. It's such a shame some people in this world find it necessary to try and make others feel inferior with their trollish comments.

    Tamara, you really did hit the nail on the head. Everyone is different, so why should we all like the same things? And why should we read other than to make ourselves happy? Good luck with your search.

  • 25/06/2011 at 1:04 am
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    This post was so true. You like what you like. I like some classics(Love In The Time of Cholera is a fav) but I also like urban fantasy, thrillers and horror. I'm open to reading anything. If I don't like it I can always move on.

  • 25/06/2011 at 1:20 am
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    Finally! Someone besides me who doesn't like Harry Potter! I have Jane Austen in view on my bookshelf, must have tried getting through it a dozen times! It's right next to Don Quixote :) my favorite book! When I'm finished Fall of Giants, I think I'll read Don Q. again!

    Thanks to Derek for having a forum such as this. Feels good to know I'm not alone in my reading quests.

  • 25/06/2011 at 1:30 am
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    The classics are great reading – but not for everyone at every stage in their lives. Read what you like!

  • 25/06/2011 at 8:08 am
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    Hi MRC. Yes. I don't like Harry Potter. But trust me. I've tried. My mom bought the first one for me when I was 11 years old. It seemed too..unreal. At that time I was too much into Sherlock Holmes and Tolstoy's short stories I guess.

    But I hope I'll complete Moby Dick one day. Well. I've got the book. How hard can turning pages be? ;)

  • 25/06/2011 at 11:13 am
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    Well I just have to have my two pennies worth and say that I am enjoying Harry Potter. Maybe proof that you can't always tell a reader by their cover. Tamara has made the point wonderfully. Reading is for enjoyment. Whatever your taste.

  • 25/06/2011 at 11:22 am
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    Hi PriMayirp. Turning the pages to Moby Dick is brutal! LOL

    Derek . . . I absolutely agree, reading is for enjoyment. I also agree with the other posts that say our tastes change as we age and grow as readers. Who knows, someday I may like Harry!!!

  • 25/06/2011 at 11:30 am
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    Tamara, I've not ever considered reading classics. I read some at school, but only because I had to. I've always read for readings sake. Eventually I found what I enjoyed, but I always looked for new authors. I started to read YA three years ago and now half my reading is YA. Anonymous's comment was immature and ridiculous. How do we determine a classic? What will be a classic a few generations from now? Read for the love of reading.

  • 26/06/2011 at 11:18 am
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    Thanks for all the comments – I'm honestly overwhelmed by the response. Most people seem to understand what I'm trying to say which is read for YOU, not anyone else, and of course I believe this applies to almost everything in life.

    I would like to say, however, that I am not dismissing all 'classics' and I will give anything a go at least once (for example, I love Shakespeare). And likewise I don't like all 'popular' fiction either – I loved Harry Potter but can't stand Twilight. It is a matter of personal taste and I would never dream of telling anyone what they couldn't or shouldn't read. Derek has it right when he says read for your enjoyment (though of course for you writers out there I would say read anything and everything!).

  • 26/06/2011 at 12:41 pm
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    I've read Oliver Twist, but not Pride/Prejudice or Dracula. I read a lot of children's classics as a kid but not any of the older people books. I've never been able to get through Alice in Wonderland – but read the entire series of Wizard of Oz. Same type of book – but very different to read.

    Great post.

    Tina "The Book Lady"
    http://familyliteracyandyou.blogspot.com

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