Sunday, January 25, 2009

Book rage

Some people suffer from road rage, I suffer from book rage. It's the curious buzzing that occurs when someone slams a genre or style of writing. I certainly have my own preferences but after working at a library for eight years I've learned that there's no such thing as "frivolous reading" as one of my colleagues suggested. Her stance is that romance is trash(red haze descended that day), that the only fiction worth reading is mystery or suspense.

In the eyes of many people romance is mindless reading or unrealistic. Because so many of us have been stalked by a serial killer and so few have ever fallen in love. Okay, I'll cut the heavy sarcasm.

Reading, whether it's a gossip magazine, scripture or anything else with words between the pages, is never frivolous. It's not mindless either. Because the very act of eyes moving across the page and brain processing those letters is far more than some people are capable of doing. Imagine what it would be like to be illiterate. Imagine no words, just symbols. Worlds of knowledge would be closed to you. Reading is a privilege.

It's also great exercise. Your brain is engaged in a myriad of ways. You learn with every single word that is revealed. It might not be earth-shattering or life-altering but it's still important. Geography, cuisine, fashion, family dynamics, astronomy, classical music, artificial intelliegence, theology, zoology; they're all subjects I've learned about from mass market fiction. Little tidbits of information are stored for future use. Because I read about a heroine who had to walk ten miles in high heels shoes during a blizzard, when traveling I've always made sure to wear footwear appropriate to the weather. That actually paid off when my car wouldn't start and I had to walk across town. Before that book I would have worn the shoes I wanted to, not the ones that were practical. Silly example but that's my point. You never know what sticks with you.

Tomorrow is Family Literacy Day in Canada. Read with a friend, even if it's not up to your usual standards. You might learn something interesting. Or not. But you'll exercise your brain regardless.


  1. Ah, good ol' genre-slamming. That was the one thing that really irked me as an English major. There were a ton of people -- students and teachers alike -- who turned up their noses at genre fiction (or anything written by someone who wasn't dead yet). It really frustrated the few of us who liked "literary" and "genre" fiction (which I think is a false dichotomy, but that's a whole blog of its own). Seriously, people, try reading something before you slam it...

  2. "...Because so many of us have been stalked by a serial killer and so few have ever fallen in love..."

    Keziah, Keziah, Keziah....I heart you, heavy sarcasm and all. Now, please go write my blog.

  3. Twit. What a sad, cold world it must be to not be able to appreciate the value of reading about love and romance.

    I just wasted my time reading over a list of books on "love" from a list of "1000 books to read before you die" from the Guardian. The majority of them had me going Ugh!

    I still remember that I learned first about the impressment of US sailors by the British Navy from a historical romance novel. Knew an answer in class one day because of that. So there.

  4. And I got the final Jeopardy answer one night when my DH with the 140+ I.Q. didn't because of a romance novel. Several times I had answers that surprised him from several different categories when, at the time, my main source of literature was romance and mystery novels.