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Why Do You Read What You Read?

My thoughts on this:

Do you ever feel like you’re reading the “wrong” books or seeing the “wrong” movies? Critics and “experts” can often make you feel that you’re not reading worthwhile literature, calling it self-indulgent or mindless fluff. In my opinion, you should skip what these people have to say and form your own thoughts/likes/dislikes on a book.

I believe that it’s important to be exposed to different forms of literature in school, even though I haaaated reading Great Expectations in high school. In University though, I found that I had a passion for geography and really enjoyed reading my textbooks and writing papers on human and economic geography (including a ten page paper on the different rice strains grown around the world — never something I thought I would find interesting or fascinating). Because I was introduced to these different topics and books, I have been able to surprise myself, know myself a little better and really figure out what I enjoy reading.

Typically I read memoirs and other forms of non-fiction because I love being able to relate to or read about other people’s lives and stories; however, it’s important to switch it up now and then, so I’ll throw in some fiction every once in a while. You’ll never know what’s going to grip and surprise you if you don’t step out of your box now and then. If you are interested in a topic or a book that you normally wouldn’t read, go ahead and read it! It’s not a life-long commitment to a certain subject, it’s only a book. And if you end up hating it, well, now you know. You can always stop reading and wash your hands of it.

Point is, don’t not read a book just because it didn’t get a great review or someone else doesn’t like it. Take time to form your own opinions and find what really makes you happy.


101 Books

In her introduction to The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing discusses how she used to get a lot of mail from college students asking her for a list of “authorities” and critics who have commented on her work. This, of course, was long before the internet.

That prompts her to write several pointed paragraphs about what she calls the “literary machine.” It’s pretty awesome to read, especially if you tire of the pretentiousness of many literary critics. Here’s part of what she said:

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I have circumnavigated the globe, I have lived overseas, and now I'm back in America about to marry my beautiful fiance, Renee. Follow our adventures in travel, getting healthier with Plexus and starting a brand new life.

4 thoughts on “Why Do You Read What You Read?

  1. Yes to all of this! I’m a huge sci-fi/fantasy/steampunk nerd, so that’s what I tend to read. Yes, I’m sitting here reading a Star Wars extended universe novel and loving it. I’ve read 17 books already this year–how many have anyone who’s commenting read? As for movies, I always disagree with them anyway.

  2. While your point is valid and true, it can also be viewed quite literally as common sense. I know of no one that pays attention to that of a critic. Its interesting to comprehend the value of a critics response though because they are commited and intrigued by their subject matter. They will continually try to make sense of something that has been made for arts sake as being high or low only to affirm that it belongs in a certain area of expertise. It would be a miscomprehension or even a to say that we don’t pay attention to thier opinion, because if we didn’t we wouldn’t have a basis for our own opinion. Critics have underlining basis of opinion that affirm and makes concrete our own. While the job of a critic is to be subjective and alienated at times, it takes anothers well sought after influence to create an individual experience.

    1. Good points, sir! Personally some of my favorite books and movies have gotten some terrible reviews. If I were to just go off of their opinions I would have missed out on some of my favorite forms of entertainment; however, that’s not to say that critics don’t serve a purpose. If someone really relates to and often agrees with a certain reviewer, then they are more likely to read what they read and stay away from what they don’t like. I’m just saying that I think you should read a book if it intrigues you and not be discouraged if some critics give it an overall bad review.

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