Just a quick one here, though I'm hoping to be back tomorrow-ish with some words about my hopes for 2015.
now, though, an issue that's been vexing me: what do I feel about the
books that I love? Or, can I get over my apparent need to write or talk
only about the more literary, impressive, books that I enjoyed, and be
more open, with readers of this blog but also with myself. Repeat to
self: if you enjoyed a book, you enjoyed it. They don't all have to be great literature, and there is no need to be ashamed of anything that I'm reading.
so hard! And it's all about the constructed self-image, not that I take
a great deal of care about this but I do like to think of myself as
someone with good taste (I suppose we all do) and I'm also aware that I
go on about how little time I have. Maybe my imaginary reader scorns me
for guzzling my way through the Susan Hill series of Simon Serailler
books, or for having enjoyed All Hallows at Eyre Hall as much as I
did. I look at these and am fairly confident they're not going to win
prizes or be widely known in 100 years, and one of my inner voices says
that this must mean they're not "worth it"...worth what? My reading
time, or my writing time, or the reading time of anyone who visits this
blog or my Goodreads page? Or is it even more laughably conceited than
that - "these books do not merit my endorsement, because I am a Serious
Reader who must only be associated with Very Serious Books"?
am packed with self-loathing when I find myself suspecting this is how
I'm thinking, and so an early resolution for next year is this: I will
read what I enjoy, which might sometimes mean a fine aesthetic
appreciation, sometimes a furious socio-political engagement, sometimes a
happy nostalgia, and sometimes the pure reading pleasure of something I
can't put down. I will not engage with the part of me that wants to put
the books in boxes as worthy or unworthy, "high quality" or "low
quality", and will test out a new assumption: a book is "high quality"
if it made me involve myself with it, and kept me reading - I can trust
myself on this, and share my thoughts on it. It will improve me as a
reader, and as a writer, because the more I can identify this magic
ingredient, the better I'll be at spotting it as a reader, at helping to
draw it out as an editor, and even trying to produce it myself as a
writer. I'll go back again to Francine Prose, and learn from her every
word, and I will get over myself a bit!
this will work with the help of my glorious new Paperwhite (reading! All
the time! In the dark! One-handed! New books at a single click!) and I
swear I will write about them all, even if they only get a few lines,
and this sort of honesty will improve everything. Though I'd never admit
it if I read Fifty Shades of Grey....