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

  • 26/06/2011 at 2:31 pm

    Tamara, what a great post. I have always read what I wanted to read even in grade school. I have always been a ferocious reader and always have a book on hand. I never liked the books we were required to read in school. They never struck my fancy. I read to escape into my own little world and become part of the story. Much more enjoyable that way. I still read what I please and don't care what anyone else thinks or says. I am "about that old" and read chick lit, romances, vampires {I do LOVE those bad boys!), historicals , erotica. You get the idea. I hate newspapers and magazines, but give me a book and I am off. Read what you like dear girl and enjoy to your hearts content. Those who may frown on what we read have usually never tried it themselves. Reading takes you to any place you want to go.

  • 01/09/2011 at 11:27 pm

    I’m an English major and a closet hater of The Great Gatsby, but I have no problem at all telling people I hated Moby Dick.

    And I was first in line to buy the vampire books before that market got oversaturated.

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