Reading is FUNdamental

It might be a bit of an understatement, but I love to read. It’s one of my favorite activities. On average, I read two or three books a week. Sometimes I do it to keep the brain firing but mostly it’s just flat-out fun. To me, there’s really nothing better than curling up with a book that takes me to faraway places with interesting characters, especially after a hard day at work.

One of my favorite genres is horror. I know, I know. Very relaxing, Wendy. I like the modern classics. Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft are a couple of my favorite scribes, but I’ll give just about any horror author a decent shot at winning me over. Mysteries—both hardcore authors like Alex Kava or whimsical writers like McCall Smith—can often be found on my nightstand. Agatha Christie is a true favorite. Then there’s science fiction, another favorite. Old, new, it doesn’t matter. I read it all. Even genre-bending authors like Kay Hooper who intertwines mystery-thrillers with a psychic/supernatural twist can be really fun. As hard as it might be to reconcile this next one given what you know about me, I do enjoy Jane Austen as well.  And yes, I’m also a comic book nerd. I know. Big surprise there, I know.

Even though I am a legit, full-grown adult I have not escaped the blast radius of the cataclysmic Young Adult boom either. Harry Potter?  Yep, I’ve read them too.  Look down on them if you must, but I don’t believe that everything you read has to be on par with Dickens. I’d heard that some parents kept their kids from reading these delightful books because they thought it celebrated witchcraft and their kids would turn into Satan-lovers or something ridiculous like that.  That was a minority of parents and I’m thankful for that because that book series single-handedly got an entire generation absolutely bonkers on reading again. It was great. The books couldn’t come out fast enough and the kids were thrilled to be READING!  Imagine that!? READING of all things!  And parents were trying to squash that. I just don’t understand some people.

At a time when the fear that iPhones and tablets and PSPs and social media were going to rot the brains of our youth, the Harry Potter collection got them reinvigorated on flipping through paper pages. They were reading. Not posting or updating or following or pinning. And I totally get why. I freakin’ loved those books. And they were not all easy reads as one might expect. J.K. Rowling did not hold back on the drama, the emotions, or the suspense. These novels were super exciting in spite of, or maybe because of, the emotional roller-coaster the author put us devoted readers on, and worthy of all the accolades they received.

A few people I know pointed out, as if I didn’t know, that—gasp—those are kids’ books. Their eyebrows would arch as they not so silently judged my reading selections. This air of pretentiousness is starting to pervade our literature choices and I just want to say, let’s not get too snobby, people.

Take book clubs for example. If you’ve ever joined a book group, you know that they usually don’t read “fun” books. No light romances or whimsical mysteries or horror novels for them. Heaven forbid they admit that they like a fun story more than some bloated philosophical 3,000 page masterpiece that takes forever to get through.

No disrespect to Tolstoy of Dostoevsky or Nobokov, but I don’t quite get why a club would choose a book where it’s hard to really understand the “point” behind them even after you’ve read them twice or even three times (but you say you do just so you don’t look stupid in book club)! Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re classics. They deserve their place in the annals of great literature, but I’m just going to say it: No one really enjoys these books. The problem is that most people in book clubs only say they do so their peers won’t look down on them or think they’re “reading challenged.”

That last paragraph was not just all speculation. I belonged to a book club back in the day. It was mind-numbingly boring. I gave it a good college try though hoping it would broaden my horizons but I only lasted a couple of books. The material they chose was sooo stale. To my credit, or discredit – however you want to view it – I could read the material…easily…I just didn’t want to.  I know, I know, that sounds like something a toddler would say, but oh well. Why read something you’re not going to enjoy? Before bowing out I did notice that no one else in the club seemed to relish the book list either. Yet no one spoke up and said, “Can we please just pick out something fun to read?”

I think it’s high time we remove the snobbishness. I say, if you’re reading, that’s great! It doesn’t matter what you’re reading just so as long as you’re enjoying it because it’s supposed to be a truly relaxing hobby. So, please, read anything. Read comic books or Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or Danielle Steele. Just have fun doing it.

Reading builds the mind and offers an escape from everyday life. While it’s good to learn and improve yourself by stretching your comfort zone, there’s no reason why it always has to be overly challenging or arduous. You should never sulk or heavy sigh when you think about the book you’re about to crack open. Read a book that’s fun sometimes instead of always choosing material that hurts your brain. And don’t let others bring you down for what you read.  Ever.

Remember: Reading should be FUNdamental!

girl reading

16 thoughts on “Reading is FUNdamental

  1. This may be my favourite blog of the week! I love reading too, I wish I could read more. I absolutely agree with everything that you’ve said, have you ever considered starting your own book club though? Then you could read whatever books you want and you could probably find people with similar reading tastes as well =D

    • There’s more to the organization end of it versus just the attendance end of it unfortunately, and I just don’t have the time to do that — though it would probably be fun. Maybe one day I will. I was hoping the library would come up with a genre based club but so far they haven’t. At least then, you could be assured of what type of books would be included.

  2. I always said one of the best things I learned from my parents is how to read and read well. In my house growing reading wasn’t a choice it was the way to better grades, and more importantly to spell and to think. And do those things well. I have continued that my whole life. My sisters are well read and are excellent readers and all three of us read all the time. My favorite authors are Robert B. Parker and Walter Mosley. I love Private Eye stories and those are my big part of my book collection. Us old schoolers still like our hardcopy reading in spite of kindle …lol sorry it how we read.

    • I love reading regular “hard copy” books as well. I like the whole “book” experience — the feel of the pages, holding a book in my hands instead of a tablet or kindle….and the smell of it, if it’s an old book. I know, I’m weird. LOL

      • You are not weird I am the same way I like the feel of a book and I want so bad to publish a book one day I don’t care if it doesn’t sell just knowing it is published is enough for me. I stop reading newspapers because they went on line and they too expensive. But I like the feel of hard print.

  3. I totally get you reading from many genres, Wendy. I am a fiction fan of many different styles and authors. Yes on Stephen King’s supernatural horror and Michael Connelly’s LA detective Harry Bosch’s crime solving and John Irving’s superb eccentric chracter studies. Anne Tyler. Pat Conroy. Nelson DeMille. Jane Smiley. So many good writers!

  4. In the book club I’m in, each member nominates a book, and it’s usually one of their favourites. That means we get a good mix and are likely to read something we might not otherwise have chosen, which is a good thing. We might choose a classic sometimes (e.g. last time it was The Great Gatsby), but of course ‘classic’ doesn’t have to mean ‘heavy’ (which, as an Austen fan, you will know – I was amazed at the extent to which Pride & Prejudice didn’t read like it was written two centuries ago, for example), and I don’t think we’d every choose something deliberately heavy or obscure. I agree the main point of reading is entertainment, though it’s also good to challenge yourselves sometimes. We try to avoid overlong books too, as we all like to read other things and not just our book club choice.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting! I always enjoy meeting another book lover! I’m an unashamed addict myself. I think that having member driven choices is an excellent way to run a book club! I loved The Great Gatsby. It’s my daughter’s favorite. And you’re so right, “classic” doesn’t necessarily mean “heavy,” though in many peoples’ eyes it seems synonymous. I also agree with you that challenging yourself is very important but challenging doesn’t necessarily have to mean boring. I really, really like the way your book club handles things. I wish the one I had belonged to had done that.

  5. Hear, hear! Absolutely agree with everything you said.. such a great post, Wendy 🙂

    As you know, I’m working my way through my bookshelves, and you won’t find many “heavy” books there, as I love “easy” reads, romance, thrillers, horror, action, fiction, mystery+++ As you, I want to have fun, be entertained or just “float away” to a different place and time…

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