Thursday, 17 January 2008

Ranty McRanty #4 (very long...)

Apols you lot - sorry, I didn't mean for the rant to get this out of hand... it started a lot shorter & then grew... so I've gone to itty bitty font...

So anyway, something made me think about this issue. I mean, it's an issue I've thought about a lot over the years. But I've decided enough is enough! It's time to come out of the closet, as it were, to the general public (and not just selected people - well, not KNOWING who I'm confessing to). BTW why does feel like I need to come clean & confess? That there is there is something wrong/bad to confess to?

My preferred reading material is often perceived to be 'crap'.

I like genre fiction. I read romance novels. I read popular fantasy novels. I read children's books and teen books - for fun!

And I'm tired of people judging me by the books I take out. I'm tired of feeling vaguely guilty when I pick my holds up from the issues desk. I'm tired of worrying what fellow library staff will think of me when I place my hold, issue my books, carry them around.

Enough! I agree with the Smart Bitches - embrace your bad taste!

And, you know what... I have me some little letters after my some little letters after my name which says I should be a literary snob... BA and MA Hons (English). I'm well educated - I have three degrees - two at masters level.

For this, for year years I read popular fiction. From Beowulf through to Frankenstein - then a leap to the 20th century. [None of that 18th and 19th century stuff for me - leaves me dead. So, no I've never read Austen et al - never seen the movies/adaptations - and I don't care. Mr Darcy - meh. Now, Eugenides from Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief - that's another story.]
I read/translated Beowulf. I read Chaucer. I read King freaking Alfred! I read parts of the Anglo-Saxon translation of Bede. I read Robin Hood tales from the Middle Ages. I read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I read Margaret Mahy. I read Robyn Donald. I read Shakespeare. I read Ngaio Marsh. I read Raymond Chandler. I read Malory. I read Confessio Amantis. I even read/translated bits of Julius Caesar in Latin! All popular, mass market appeal in their day.

Get over your prejudices! Those classic authors, those taught at uni as the best of the best - were all populist novelists! Every single novel you read is considered a romance in Europe! That's because they're all made up! Dickens - he was a serial novelist - with chapters published in newspapers. So was Conan Doyle. Austen, et al, well only poorly educated girls read such trashy novels in the Regency period. Shakespeare? Now he'd be a script writer for Coro Street.

All you literary snobs out there - own up to the less than literary books you read. Or magazines. Who cares - and who has the right to care and judge - if you prefer to read Who weekly, rather than The Listener. Or, conversely TLS rather than Good reads. Do I criticise you for your tastes?

In the past I've been asked how I know so much shit - especially historical stuff - and most of it sure is hell isn't from the history I studied at school and uni - it's from reading historical romances.
Georgette Heyer rocks! Read her and learn! This is the woman who did an incredible amount of research for all her books. So much so, a lecturer at Sandhurst Military Academy offered her a guest lectureship, upon overhearing her detail the Battle of Waterloo to a relative attending the school.

Yes, some of the writing is formulaic and the research pretty zero. Yes, some of the covers suck! But it's not all like that.

Anything that makes you think. Anything that lets you escape for a while. Anything you enjoy. Anything that makes you FEEL. Got to be good. Who cares where you find it (as long as it's legal and doesn't hurt people...).
So what! We all have differences. Different tastes in music, tastes in movies, tastes in foods. No one has the right to judge someone because of their personal tastes.
I prefer big budget action flicks rather than art house movies. So, no - don't bother ask me what I'm going to see at the film festival - I don't care. Not interested. But I don't comment on you going. I just think it's your thing.
I don't like chick lit. But I don't look down upon those I know who read it. Or judge. Or try to change their reading habits.
I like heavy metal, old school - if I listened to music radio, it would be Hauraki, but I don't - I listen to Newstalk ZB and RadioSport. Don't know 'modern' music - don't really care. Wouldn't know music theory or criticism if it bit me.
I like medieval music, too - just don't ask techie questions about it. My fav Christmas music - medieval and the Rat Pack. Like classical too, no sopranos for me. Just don't expect to converse intelligently about it. I just like it (sopranos hurt my ears, though).
Because I know what some of my workmates knowledge base is - I don't review CDs or DVDs for work. But, maybe I'll start. Not everyone reading our librarians' choice reviews IS a music/film buff - they're just an average joe who wants something to tune into to/out with for a while. To escape. I'm your populist!

Sometimes I need to clear my head space. Sometimes I'm stressed and I don't need to read stuff that adds to the crap I'm feeling/thinking - so I'll pick me up some 'crap' romance - probably with a little label saying 'warning sexually explicit content'. And, if there's vampires or werewolves or some other paranormal shit - all to the good. (Except that series were they're genetically engineered cat/human hybrids with penises that have cat-like spurs... ick).
Then, if that's not enough and I'm really close to break down - I'll re-read my David Eddings collection (Elenium & Tamuli - not a fan of Belgariad or Mallorean). Then Anne McCaffrey - sometimes all the Pern novels (I cry when Telgar heads to her death in Dragonsdawn, every damn time), then the Doona books, then Restoree. Maybe a little Petaybee. Don't do the Crystal singer books - or Acorna - nor the Ship sequels (The Ship who Sang, hell yeah). They're just not me.
Last ditch effort to keep me together - Anne of Green Gables series (crying copious tears when baby Joy dies - God that's well done! sometimes I skip that book) and The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.

But, you know what. Sometimes my head is clear. Then I read things like A brief history of time by Stephen Hawking (yes, I own a copy - been a while since I read it - so don't ask me questions Dr Allfrey!) Like In cold blood by Capote.
I'm a true crime addict. I love science. I love history. Not that into biographies. The surgeon of Crowthorne is fascinating though.
Making faces - a book about forensic and archaeological facial reconstruction - wonderful.
[I used to be a science geek, until my brain changed at 17 and I became 'unbalanced'. Trust me, before that I was equally good at science and wordy subjects. Then, suddenly, I couldn't add very well. I went from getting over 70% in 6th form physics & maths to failing in 7th form physics, and scrapping by in calc. A shock to the system - and farewell dreams of being a civil engineer!]

If you've survived this far through my rant - the upshot is - don't you dare judge me by the books I'm reading.
My goodread buds - be prepared... next step is actually taking the time to chronicle ALL my reading on there... yep, fronting up and being honest.

You know what - New Year's Resolution and all that crap (normally don't make them) - I don't care what you think now. I'm being true to me - and you just deal with your prejudices. I don't give a monkeys. Snigger behind my back if you want. I'll still join you in commenting on the covers and titles of romance novels when we're sectioning there - but honestly guys - I think I have the better right to do so.


  1. I knew comics readers would understand...

  2. I too will bare my soul and say YAY for literature without a capital L! Books with great stories, rollicking plots, and humour that will never be studied by arcane scholars. I LOVE Georgette Heyer and own all her Regency stories (not so sure about her historicals ...), can't go past an historical mystery and latch onto a good ole purple M&B with a passion.

    Go Mad Hamster! We're with you:)

  3. Ooooh I am *so* down with the Georgette Heyer scene... love those managing mamas!

    Don't forget her nifty little mysteries too.


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