Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Madly In Love With Books

No two persons ever read the same book.
              -Edmund Wilson-

I love to read. When I was a university student and wasn't sure of the right career path for me, I first did a degree in English Literature and mainly this was because of my love for reading. I loved reading and words and the world they created so much that even Chaucer had some appeal. I rarely spoke up in class, intimidated by those individuals who had always taken the most appropriate prerequisite course and thus knew exactly how to compare the piece of literature at hand with something of ancient origin. One day a young man in my contemporary British novels class dared to say out loud that he really didn't have any educated thoughts on the book, he was just there because he loved to read. I mentally applauded him. Okay, if I'm honest, I mentally dated him, perhaps I mentally married him, I don't really recall but he was my hero for at least a whole week. I am just here because I love to read.

I do have to confess to being a bit of a literature snob, though I enjoy a little bit of genre fiction too. I have my opinions on who writes well and why and which books I would not be caught dead on a subway reading. I don't know if dead people read on subways but let's pretend that they do. I have a horror of anything stamped Oprah's Book Club even though Oprah has endorsed some very fine books. I usually won't buy a copy of a novel if it has images from the movie on it's cover, and if I do I will replace that copy with a better looking one for my bookshelf later. I sometimes go slumming and read a piece of fiction which would not be considered literary in the same way that once a month or so I might eat some potato chips. And I really enjoy those potato chips. What makes fiction literary or not is debated but for me it means the writing has some depth to it that goes beyond just advancing the plot. The characters develop and grow, the prose is beautiful or creative in some way that moves me and the content makes me think and challenges me in some way. A piece of fiction that doesn't do those things may still be a well told story and a much needed escape for the reader. Someone I once knew called them beach novels. I wonder what it says about our culture, that Dickens was the equivalent of a beach novel writer in his time.

If you have the patience to follow me, it will not have escaped you that I am a bit verbose. So all of the above is my way of saying, I have a hell of a lot of books in my possession and a whole lot of love for them. I want to share my favourite books and hopefully inspire others to read them. They will not necessarily be from the latest New York Times Bestseller list, as I buy many books second hand so I don't necessarily read a book at the height of it's popularity. I doubt I am alone in that so with that in mind I hope to select a book I have read to review once a week and I also hope that if you have not read it, I can inspire you to give it a try.

 Painting by Jane Peterson, 1920

 Image sources:

Nigella Lawson's library, source unknown to me. 


  1. No problem with verbosity, I have a bit of that going on here too (I often write a blog post, then have to edit the hell out of it). Another English Literature graduate here too, I was always a bit intimidated by the other students as well, and rather wish I could go back and do it all again and not be so damn unsure and timid.
    By all means, share your literary loves. I range between classics and "proper" novels and gruesome thrillers and dark Scandinavian crime writing. No chick lit or 50 Shades though, no no no.
    This year, I decided to try and read some classic novels which I should already have read, but am ashamed to say I haven't. Bleak House, here I come! xxx

  2. LOL-I am quite proud to say I have not read Fifty Shades either. No Eng Lit degree can cover all the classics so there are some I have not read too. I have no desire whatsoever to read Moby Dick. Perhaps I am missing out on something wonderful but there it is. I love some Dickens and can't get through others. Our Mutual Friend is my favourite. I am a huge Iris Murdoch fan but I also love some Jeeves and Wooster. There was no Jeeves and Wooster course at university, I'm
    sad to say.

    Thank you so much for you regular comments. It makes my day!

  3. Well here come a 'non English Lit graduate' but that is definitely not going to stop me from checking in on your blog.

    I must admit that I did buy 50 Shades, read one chapter and passed it on but am definitely not a snob when it comes to what I read ~ Reading is important and my books that I escape to include Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers and Danielle Steel (have read every one of her books! and not ashamed to say so!)

  4. Good for you, Lynn. Reading is important and it is also important to escape. Admitting that I am sometimes a literature snob was more of a confession than a boast. I could very easily miss out on something good if I stuck my nose too high in the air. I am very fond of some mystery writers, some fantasy and have been known to read a Jodi Picoult or two. I tried some of the Ann Rice books years ago but I tired of them after awhile. I looked at an excerpt of 50 Shades online out of curiosity but it didn't hold any appeal.

    I absolutely promise that my bog has no theme whatsoever that I am aware of and will not always be about lit snobbiness or even books. LOL I am so glad you visit and I am so glad to have met you.

    1. I love the variety of your blog posts and certainly didn't take your admission of being a literature snob as a boast. I still haven't started Night Circus yet as I want to get this scrapbook finished ... my self imposed deadline is tomorrow (28 Feb) as I want to get it in the post soon so I can share the pages on my blog ~ which I haven't updated either given the pace and intensity of my scrapbooking.

  5. I don't know whether I mentioned it on my blog or not, but I am a Russian language and literature graduate, and I studied a lot of world literature, including English. I remember loving Iris Murdoch, and Jeeves and Wooster came much later in my life, quite enjoyable, I would like to give it another try though as I forgot all about it.

    I used to be a snob - everyone is a snob at universities, I suppose :). But I am not a snob now. I don't read fiction these days, mostly documentary, memoirs... I am looking for depth in reading, but I refuse to believe that depth has to be dark. And it is unfortunately what I see in many literature pieces. I find myself mesmerized by the beauty of a language, and depressed by the offered outlooks on life. I want to read something deep and uplifting. I also want to write something deep and uplifting. I am searching for light, even in my darkest times.
    I loved this post, Shawna!


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