Books Beneath You

So there’s this guy who is embarrassed that his wife reads a lot of YA literature. “I feel mildly embarrassed that she can talk (in detail!) to my nieces about these books at holiday gatherings.”

The idea that literature written for youngsters is automatically simplistic stuff is moronic. We all know the story about A Wrinkle in Time being marketed as a YA because the ideas in it were too complex to be marketed as adult literature, yes? But YA often has more compelling storytelling than the adult stuff, so why not read it? I like compelling storytelling. There’s a reason I was a big fan of that Nickelodeon show Avatar: The Last Airbender, and why I loved the Harry Potter series.

On the other hand, why must everything you read be “Great Literature?”

Since books have been cheap enough for the masses to afford, there’s always been some peabrain who goes on about “bad literature” rotting the brain. Sometimes the peabrain is a celebrated author! Louisa May Alcott has several fine rants in Little Women, Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom about the dangers of trashy literature. Never mind that she wrote a fair share of it herself!

I do admit that I read with about the same forethought and discrimination most people apply to their television watching. That’s mostly because I rarely like television shows (yes, Avatar was an exception) and go to reading for my entertainment on the same level as someone getting into reality TV. I mean, at present, I am reading T. Tembarom by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and a more sentimental early twentieth century dime novel you’d be unlikely to find. It pulls on the emotions more or less like reality TV is meant to.

Do I ever read “Great Literature?” I guess, but I don’t really think about it that way. Whenever I look at a list of 100 or so books that are listed as “classics,” it’s a pretty sure bet I’ve read at least 50 of them, sometimes more, depending on the list. But the fact that I have read them has considerably more to do with sheer volume at which I read than any real serious selection on my part. *grin* That, and the fact that you can read many classics for free by downloading them from The Gutenberg Project.

Maybe I’m a low-brow. I dunno. But one thing I am sure of, any guy who is embarrassed at his wife reading The Hunger Games is a dork.

5 Replies to “Books Beneath You”

  1. I love YA literature—I’m not embarassed to say I am re- reading ” Anne of Greene Gables” now!

  2. This is one where I have mixed minds. One, awesome that people are reading anything in this country! It still amazes me when I hear statistics about people who never read even one book in a year. That makes librarians sad.

    But I also wonder about only reading one type of book, whether it be genre, popularity, or only related to movies. When there are so many great writers out there it seems a shame not to explore ones just because they don’t have some big overculture tie-in.

    1. I get where you’re coming from. I am unusual as an F/SF fan that I read historical fiction, biography, yellow novels from the 1800s, YA, and so on. Yes, I think breakout outside of genre or type has its intellectual merits, but as I said, I read like most people watch TV. I just kinda grab books that seem kinda interesting and go. I genuinely don’t read for edification (though I expect it happens on the side!) so I am sympathetic to Johnny One-Genre.

  3. One thing I like about YA literature: there’s not an automatic need to have sex/romance involved. That can make the story and the action a lot cleaner.

    But even then, liking something is enough. I liked the anime Teen Titans; I was a comic fiend when I was younger so I’m almost always in the market for a good superhero flick.

    If there was embarrassment, it would only be if someone refused to ever attempt anything post-YA. I’d be embarrassed if I (with my reading skills and interests) refused to read The Brothers Karamazov, instead choosing something “easy”.

    1. Well, I don’t MIND sex in literature. (Sometimes it’s even appropriate to the story in YA, after all). But yes, the idea that the plot doesn’t HAVE to be driven by romance is definitely a plus.

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