Something I love in life next to running of course, is reading. The picture above shows two books, the one on the left, Mary Shelley Frankenstein and the one on the right, Terry Pratchett Witches Abroad
Frankenstein, rightly, has been called a classic due to the language used and the themes of humanity and monsters and science, heady subjects for a female author in 1818! In fact it is probably one of the earliest forms of Science Fiction. The book written by Terry Pratchett probably falls amongst the fantasy genre, has sold millions, but in the scheme of things amongst literature is not seen as a classic book.
This post is a rant therefore at literature elitists, you know the ones, they’ve got that list of “100 books you must read before you die” and they if not own all 100 books have definitely read them all. Now these lists have just been compiled as a guide, to recommend certain books that for some reason or another, made a big difference to the world, either through challenging misconceptions, or introducing the english langauge to the masses in ways to get people engaging with books. The lists certainly weren’t created to belittle people who haven’t read any of the titles on there.
I’ll be honest, I’m doing my best to get through the list, but only as a challenge to myself to read more in my hectic life. You see, being deaf, when I was a child, even though I have memories of T.V shows in the 80’s and 90’s, these were the days before subtitles (captions) were available, so my memory is of blurred sounds rather than anything definitive. So for me, being the only child till I was 10 years old, my escape was through the world of books. Anything put in front of me I would attempt to read, I had an above average reading age, so after devouring The Famous Five and The Secret Seven and all of Roald Dahl books, I started trying to read my dads books. It wouldn’t have been uncommon to seeing me reading a Sharpe’s latest adventure on the settee even at the age of 10! Where for many kids, a trip to the toy shop for good behaviour was the happy times, for me it was being able to go to the huge Dillon’s Book Store (now sadly gone with many other shops due to the recession a number of years ago) and spending hours sat surrounded by 1000’s of shiny new books with that amazing smell! There is something even to this day I love about being able to escape the real world for a while, into the world set by a particular book I may be reading.
For me these days, I’m a huge fan of crime thrillers, joining the fictional 1st person in trying to determine who dunnit and why. But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy other genres;Terry Pratchett being a particularly favourite author of mine, along with Bill Bryson and his witty observations of life (hmm…maybe I could get writing like him??), to scaring myself witless with some classic horror stories by King or Herbert.
But when you look at my personal library of books, how many out of the 100 must read books could be found on my shelf? Probably not even 15! But does that make me a bad reader because I don’t have the classics? I’ve been guilty of being judgemental myself, having some friends getting into books again reading Fifty Shades of Grey (from descriptions given by the friends, I still maintain it is a porn book!!) and me stating that it isn’t a proper book! However, what right do I have to say that? To me, if you read any book at all, you’re a winner! You’re trying to broaden your horizons, and through the medium of reading books, you’re learning new words, new meanings and new worlds. Just because it may not be compared to Jules Verne or War and Peace (I have read this, took me about 4 months to get through it though!), don’t let anyone get you down!
So to finish this off, what should you read? I say whatever you damn well feel like! Find yourself a nice quiet corner in the house or the garden, pick up that book, and enjoy that bliss of escaping real life!