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Reading is Fundamental

Hmm so okay. Chickenmagazine wonders about books that I'm vaguely embarassed not to have read. The truth is, there aren't any. Asked me a couple of years ago and I would have listed off a bunch of books that I felt incomplete without. Great novels or important works of non-fiction that I was a fool for not having read.

But now I've come to an understanding with books. I don't have to read certain books to feel like I'm smart, or to impress other people, or out of some vague guilt that it's something I ought to do. I read what I want, when I want, and if it's not cutting the mustard then I feel no qualms about tossing it aside. Reading isn't school. It's fun! Read the books that you enjoy and bollocks to the rest.

So, no, there are no books I'm embarassed not to have read. Only books I'm looking forward to reading and may or may not enjoy, as the case may be. The fact that anyone would feel embarassed for not reading a particular book seems to stem from the idea that there is an absolute quantitative quality attached to certain books that makes them inherently worth reading. That's nonsense.

Categories: books


CM said...

I think you're taking the "embarrassed" part a little too seriously. There are a lot of books that I feel like I should read just for cultural literacy, or for personal reasons, or because people I know have read them and I want to understand what they're talking about. I don't think those reasons are nonsense. The books on my list aren't books I feel stupid for not having read -- they're books that I keep meaning to read but somehow never quite make it on to my reading list.

sui generis said...

I see what you mean, but that's something else all together. Now, I wasn't trying to apply any of that to you--I was only talking about my own perspective--so I hope you didn't take that post personally. I, for one, certainly did used to feel stupid for not reading certain books.

But the question didn't ask about books you want to read for one reason or another; it asked specifically about books that you felt embarassed about not having read. All I'm saying is that I have nothing in the latter category. I certainly have plenty in the former. And all the reasons that you list for wanting to read a book are valid and good ones.