28 October 2008

Let people read what they want to read

I finally gave up after 35 pages of Possession by A. S. Byatt. Although I've abandoned books before, I felt a little guilty about giving up on this one. It is on EW's New Classics list, and a lot of people are raving about this book. I've even read some forum posts that suggest that anyone who doesn't like Possession isn't willing to challenge herself or isn't smart enough to read a dense book. I internalized that for a little while and let myself feel stupid for disliking it.

The fact is that every book is not for everybody. I've been guilty in the past of belittling people who read genres like Harlequin romances, but no more. With research showing that reading helps to sweep the cobwebs out of your brain and prevent senility, we should encourage people to read whatever appeals to them without making them feel guilty about it. My husband ABM never has been much of a reader, but lately he has taken a liking to USA Today. This is a man who only picks up the newspaper for the classifieds and the sales circulars. Now he reads news stories and even discusses them with me on occasion. So even though many critics say that USA Today is written on a 6th-grade reading level and caters to the lowest common denominator, I applaud ABM for reading it because it is more than he was doing before.

So Possession has gone back to the library and I've moved on to something on the opposite end of the spectrum, Cassidy by Lori Wick. It is the first volume in a Christian fiction series. It is light and there may not be much to chew on for a literary discussion, but so far the story has kept me turning the pages. That's the goal, isn't it?

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