I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

But let's be original

READING REALITIES Part three:
The Rewards

Let's make one thing absolutely clear. I am trying not to list obvious rewards. Let's assume that moral and intellectual uplift, unexpected insights, rollocking entertainment, novelty, brilliant authorial style, acceptable grammar and punctuation are all givens. Let's look for things that haven't been said before in waffling abstractions,

A book can confirm your prejudices. And the darker and more contemptible such prejudices are, the more thrilling it is to find agreement. One assumes Mein Kampf raced a lot of motors - not mine or yours, perhaps - and a number of readers enjoyed reaching page 720. You may be waiting for a novel which turns dark chocolate into a religious experience; I frankly am not.

Books - often the more rubbishy the better - may separate you from the rest of the human race. Especially in dentists’ waiting rooms. It is not for me to say whether this is a worthy aim. All I can suggest is that recognised masterpieces are less likely to do the job. George Eliot's Romola (definitely not a masterpieces and not fun either) would, for instance, offer little help.

Appearing to read difficult books confers status. Many people holding soft-science degrees, never having got past Northanger Abbey, managed to advance their standing by buying A Brief History of Time. But not for long. A very brief history.

Not all so-called difficult books turn out to be difficult. Proust's opus is comedic. Having cracked this nut you can dine out on the achievement. I know. I have.

Re-reading children's books and talking about the plots in a remote academic way is easy to do and unsettling for those forced to listen. Graham Greene spoke about Beatrix Potter's genius though it's rumoured he did it for the money.

2 comments:

Joe Hyam said...

I confess that in my youth I used to read books so that I could say that I had read them. Doubtless some benefit rubbed off, but there was no deep love of them. Now I read books because I love the language and the content. I don't care whether any one knows or not. But I do enjoy sharing the pleasure with others who have read the same books.

Sir Hugh said...

Bogus readers abound: the spy pretending to read whilst observing his target, the busy-body ostensibly reading, but listening to others’ conversations, and my late father, hidden behind a newspaper at the dinner table with his three sons. Suddenly a hand lets go of one side of the newspaper, flashes out like a chameleon catching a fly, swats me on the side of the head and withdraws in a flash to retrieve the falling page of the paper, and all this accompanied with a staccato, “stop chewing your fork Con!”

I reckon he knew it was an odds on chance I would be chewing my fork. I don’t do it now.