Venn Librarian

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What me, read?

Posted by lpearle on 27 September 2006

In the recent Cites and Insights, Walter Crawford writes about Old Media/New Media (specifically, The State of The Book).

The “Reading at Risk” report comes in for some criticism – as well it should. Look, I read a lot. Does what I read continually qualify as “reading” by the report’s standards? No. [insert your own ‘tree falling in a forest’ metaphor here] By their standards, the students at MPOW are also “not reading” when they borrow the manga, science fiction and series books that they seem to enjoy.

Part of me wonders what it is that I’m doing when my eyes are running over print/text, with a book-like object in my hands, with my fingers turning what appear to be pages. I know it’s not literature, but so what? It’s reading. And sometimes it is “literature”. I repeat, So. What? Isn’t it more important that we read anything? What’s so special about “literature” that we need to bemoan it’s lack of prominence and bewail society’s apparent inability to enjoy it? We should be applauding people reading what they like, what they enjoy.

Reading mysteries “develops a capacity for focused attention and imaginative growth that enriches both private and public life” every bit as much as reading Faulkner or Atwood. You can trust me on this: I’m a librarian and a reader. Except by the NEA’s standards.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to climb down off my soapbox and re-curl up with The Blood Confession. Maybe I’ll read something later.


2 Responses to “What me, read?”

  1. Sherri said

    Nothing like a little pretension in your reading, is there? What makes me laugh sometimes is that most of those writers of literature were just telling stories to entertain others when they wrote — they got that stature thing after the fact. Having just eaten I didn’t read the article, but are they talking about the Great Dead White Guy Canon?With you, I say “Feh”.

  2. Jandy said

    Like you, I read a lot of everything. It often isn’t in the literature class but it sure is in the “relax and forget the world” class, which is where I rank television as well. Besides, who’s to say that some of the new “light” reading doesn’t turn into literature?I keep thinking of Asimov’s Foundation series. I’m sure when the first book came out it was dismissed as good science fiction. But now it is considered literature and often shows up on “must read” lists.

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