I’ve mentioned a few times before that I did a literature degree.
By that I mean I did what is commonly known as a ‘liberal arts’ degree and all the electives I took revolved around literature. Gothic literature, Regency literature, popular literature (I got to read Harry Potter for class!), literature of Australia, and of course, Shakespeare. I mean, sure, the guy wrote plays and poems, not novels, but it’s still literature.
I completed an Honours thesis focusing on Shakespeare in modern-day film.
So why am I so fascinated with Young Adult (YA) novels?
I guess I feel like I don’t really need to prove myself.
I’ve done the classics. Wuthering Heights is and will always be one of my favourite novels of all time, even if I don’t particularly like the main characters. Jane Eyre was an eye opener. For the first time, upon advice from my professor, I read only one chapter at a time. It really gave me time to digest and think about the novel as opposed to rushing through it at breakneck speed like I normally do with fiction.
I have a degree in ‘high’ literature and I read almost exclusively ‘low’ literature. I shouldn’t need to defend myself. I’ve done my time. Now I read what I want to read.
However, having read almost exclusively YA and other commercial fiction for the past five years, I do feel a little like I’m a bit inadequate when it comes to what other people my age are reading.
A friend of mine recently completed his PhD in literature and started throwing around names like Hemmingway and Lovecraft. I don’t read them. I have no interest in them. But I know they’re considered higher literature than my fascination with YA magical princess fantasies.
At one point I tried to get back into the Classics
Because I like Jane Austin and the Brontes, and had enjoyed Animal Farm, and then Logan’s Run, I tried to get into Brave New World. But I couldn’t get more than 20 pages in. It was so dry and boring and the focus was once again on a man and men’s problems and women were superfluous!
I even tried to complete my life-long challenge of reading every single Shakespeare play. I mean, what kind of a Shakespeare scholar would I be if I’d only read the plays I’d been assigned, or acted in, or seen? I struggled through Julius Caeser and put the rest of the challenge on hold. The dry manuscript simply can’t compete with something like The Hunger Games, even though it does have a very excellent monologue by Marc Antony.
Read what you want to read, else what exactly is the point?
When reading is a hobby, you should be reading what gives you joy. You shoudn’t be pushing yourself to read outside of your favourite genres if you don’t want to be. You can take part in challenges that expand your horizons if you want to.
But if you’re not enjoying what you’re reading, you’re wasting your time, your effort, your money, and your passion… and for what reason, exactly? Are you trying to impress someone?
If so: fuck them.
If they don’t approve of what you read and what brings you joy, that’s their problem.
Go ahead and read your vampire love stories.
Go ahead and read your magical princess fantasies.
Go ahead and re-read Harry Potter for the millionth time.
It’s your time. It’s your blog. It’s your life.