We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Friday, 4 May 2012

No Reader is an Island, No Blogger Either, for that matter

There has been a fair amount of animosity in the blogosphere of late. And, as these things tend to do, well for those not involved in the fray, it has led me to a great deal of introspection about my space in the blogosphere. It has led me to asking myself some questions, that I would like to share with you, as well as the answers that I have come up with.

Should you not wish to read this entire post, what I am trying to say is that we should not judge oneanother based on what we read, there is no right or wrong way to read. There is no right or wrong genre, you should not patronise me for enjoying YA. There is also no wrong or right way to blog, if we all did everything the same, there would be no need for the blogosphere, we could all just run one big blog, but variety is the spice of life and it is our differences that make us interesting. I write what I want, and I write honestly how I feel about a book, not because I am looking for approval, but because I am sharing my views. I am not writing to influence you, I just want to express how a book has impacted or disappointed me. I am not trying to guide you, I am just here to express myself, and is that not what the majority of us want to do anyway? It is wrong to tell someone that they should not gain pleasure from a certain genre of book, books are the only escape that many have, and who are we to judge?

That in a nutshell, is what I am trying to say here, I hope you do read on so that you can understand me a bit better.

When and why did I start this blog?

I started this blog at the latter end of 2009. I had another blog, but I felt that I needed one to dedicate solely to books. The idea came to me on one of my many Saturday morning coffee dates with my good friend Caeser. I only started taking this blog seriously in the second term of 2010. I started setting goals for myself, and working on this blog to help me overcome my depression.

I have always been an avid reader, and I saw this as an opportunity to record my thoughts and opinions on books, as well as to have something to show for 2010 the year I took off to repair my mental state. Blogging and reading helped to save me, as it gave me something I could control to focus on.

Which books do I read and why?

Much of my life, I have been reading books that are one step ahead of my age group's prescribed reading. I learnt to read when I was 5 years old, and when I was 7 I read Charlotte's Web by myself. I had devoured all of Roald Dahl's books in the local library by the time I was 9. My mom had me reading biographies about Galileo, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison and others at the same time.

I then moved onto the older children's side of the library and read what I could. When I was 14 I ventured into the Lord of the Rings, and by the time I was 15 I was reading Chocolat. My friends and I were the intellectual group at high school and we debated Freud and Aristotle. We thought we were so amazing. We would buy teenage magazines, and loved the UK ones we could get in Port Elizabeth.

The only kind of YA I read was the Flambards Trilogy and the 2 Dawson's Creek books that the local library happened to have. I never thought too much of YA growing up, but I don't think it really existed then.

I suppose the point I am trying to make, is that one of the genres I enjoy now, YA, is so great for me, because when I was a young adult, I was just so serious, I wanted to be older than I was, and well now I miss how easy life used to be so that is why I read YA. YA offers an escape, it is an easy read, and it is not taxing, it is the kind of read you want to escape into after a long day. But what I really think the reason is for my great enjoyment of YA is, is that I am not ready to be a grown up, but I have to be. I am 24, and I have many responsibilities. In reading YA, I get to escape my responsibilities, and go back to a simpler time when all you had to really worry about was impressing your friends. Is it so wrong to want to do that?

I also like the worlds of Sookie Stackhouse, Maggie O'Neal, MJ Holliday and Trish from the Book Town mystery series. I enjoy mysteries, they are easy to get into, and they just give you something to relax thinking about. I also enjoy the vampire books of late, but that does not make me a shallow reader. Just because it is not difficult does not mean it should be dismissed, reading is one of the best pleasures that life has to offer, why should you not be able to read what you want to without being judged? Why should others try to censor us?

I love novels, I thoroughly enjoyed The Orchid House, Middlesex is one of my favourite all time books. I loved White Oleander, Disgrace, Shutter Island and The Virgin Suicides.

I also enjoy the classics, Revolutionary Road, Gone with the Wind, The Great Gatsby, The Color Purple these are among my favourites.

I adore Harry Potter and have enjoyed some of the Chronicles of Narnia as well as a bit of Lemony Snickets. No reader is an island - you cannot close yourself off to certain genres.

But my absolute favourite has to be biographies, especially the autobiography and memoir sub genres. I love experiencing the lives of others vicariously, whether it is Frank McCourt, Sharon Osbourne or Seabiscuit. Books are the best form of travel, and you don't need a passport.

I am an amalgam when it comes to reading, I read what I feel like reading when I feel like reading it. No one is going to make me feel like a second rate citizen in the world of reading because I do not fit the mould that they have cast. My mind is my own, and I am going to feed it with what I want, because reading is one of the few things in which you can truly be free.

So to the judgmental lemmings out there, thank you for making me examine and put into words my thoughts about reading and the genres which I enjoy. And I will thank you kindly not to judge, but to rather look at yourself and ask whether you feel inhibited in the reading choices that you make that you have to criticise those who veer off of your chosen path.

In life, as in the blogosphere, I do not fit into a box. I do and believe what feels right to me. So what if I read 20 books targeted at 16 year olds, it makes me happy, and that is the goal of life, isn't it?

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