|I was wondering what to do for this week’s Thursday Thirteen but then I got an email from Carl, linking to this post and providing perfect inspiration. So this T13 is a couple of responses to that post. And yes, I know, I shouldn’t feed the troll, but what the hell, I may as well.
Have you ever noticed how much fantasy readers read? It’ really astonishing. … Of course, they’re really proud of this chew-through-the-phonebook capacity.
Proud? Not so much. I don’t care how much I read, why would a word count of what I’ve read be something to be proud of?
The 80 people who did the “challenge” read four or five books from different fantasy sub-genres (Like, I guess, books with two-handed broadswords vs. books with crossbows)
Ah, ignorance. There really is nothing like it is there? Talk about moaning over something that you really know nothing about.
Hereâ€™s the prob, though: There isn’t anything remotely “challenging” about this project. If you find it challenging to read a bunch of fantasy books, you need to –well, I don’t know what you can do, frankly. I was going to say take some classes at your local community college,but I’m not sure that would do it.
Again, ignorance shines through. The challenge was to read books that you wouldn’t usually. It had nothing to do with the “quality” of the books themselves. It was simply to take a look outside your comfort zone. If I’m totally honest, I didn’t really do that as I’m already a fantasy fan and so my challenge was to read new authors or books that I’d been putting off.
And the books – that shining duo of modern literature, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman … The Princess Bride, miscellaneous stuff by That Goddamned Terry Pratchett … a bonecrushing load of Neil Fucking Gaiman
So I’m guessing you see something wrong with those authors? What exactly is that? Weis & Hickman write entertaining, if derivative fantasy. The Princess Bride is a wonderful book. Terry Pratchett is a genius. Neil Gaiman? You are giving out about people reading Neil Gaiman? And yet you haven’t given me a single reason why you dislike these authors.
Also Sheri S. Tepper – and by the way, Tepper readers, why didn’t any of you go with The Gate to Women’s Country? It’s the one thing she’s written that deserves to go down in history as a significant work of feminist lit. Read it.
Why? Because you say so? I’ve read some of Tepper’s work. It is okay, but she gets far too preachy for my personal taste. I’ve no problem with works of fiction having a message, but I really don’t need to be hit over the head with a giant hammer to get the fact that being hit in the head hurts. Also, instead of simply stating your viewpoint as an absolute fact why not try to persuade me. Give me one reason why I should read The Gate to Women’s Country and maybe I will. Then again, maybe I won’t.
But none of these books are challenging. They aren’t daunting in structure or syntax … only a tiny minority of them will still be talked about 50 years from now. They’re bedtime reading — superlatively crafted bedtime reading in some cases, but bedtime reading nonetheless.
And this really is the crux of the matter isn’t it? You want us to read “challenging” books. You seem to want to foist your interpretation of what makes a great book on us. But here’s the thing, that isn’t what this reading challenge was about. You seem to have misinterpreted the whole exercise. Who cares what people will be talking about in fifty years time? But also, if you haven’t read a book how will you know whether or not it is worthy of discussion? I won’t know if the De Vinci Code is really a great thriller or a mindless piece of crap until I read it.
Like, who cares if a bunch of nerds want to congratulate themselves for finishing American Gods in three nights flat.
Again with the straw man argument? We weren’t reading these books in order to pat ourselves on the back. Merely to read the books, maybe enjoy them, and share that experience. The only congratulating being done was because a target had been set, and met. And there is nothing wrong in that. But not one review or site I visited was congratulating itself on reading as many books as possible in as short a time as possible. But you know, feel free to make stuff up to suit your post.
Even though these people have nothing whatsoever to do with me or my life (beyond feeding a sort of amorphous anxiety about the future of Real Literature) they really, really irritate me
I’ve no problem with you being irritated by us. Feel free, but you know what an easy solution would be? To switch off. If you don’t like something, and it doesn’t have any connection to you then don’t watch/read/interact with it. It is simple. Don’t like Big Brother, then don’t watch it Don’t like CSI then change the station. Don’t like this reading challenge, then don’t play along.
I just can’t stand it when nerds act all superior about their stupid crap. I read a lot too, you know. But I don’t want a freaking medal for it.
Who was acting superior Who wanted a medal?
So cut it out, nerds! Take the FanDumb challenge: This month, read some fantasy-inflected Real Lit. Like Jonathan Carroll or Madison Smartt Bell. Or Mark Danielewski or Jonathan Lethem or Kazuo Ishiguro. You won’t finish as fast, but you’ll annoy me a hell of a lot less.
Who says I won’t finish them as fast? As though that is even a goal! Also, who says we haven’t read these authors. I don’t just read one thing. I’ve read Carroll, and I’ve read Weis & Hickman, and I’ve read Tolkien, and I’ve read Ishiguro, and I’ve read Homer, and I’ve read Plato, and I’ve read Mieville, and I’ve read Gaiman and Pratchett and Rowling and Whitman, and Heaney, and, well I could go on, but why bother? I don’t just read one genre, I’ve read fantasy, and sci-fi, and post-colonial studies, and historical fiction, and so-called Literature, and modern classics and Shakespeare and science and history and fanfic and, well, pretty much any genre there is, apart from tentacle porn So who do you think you are, that you can tell me, or any one else, what they should be reading?
- But you know what the biggest problem with that post was? The tone of it. Full of “I’m looking down my nose at you, you smelly silly stupid fantasy reader you”. That isn’t really likely to change anyone’s mind is it? You want to persuade me to try a new author by telling me that the ones I enjoy are shite? Yeah, I don’t think you are going to get very far with that attitude. Tell me why you like something, why you love something, and then I probably will give it a go.
- I might not like it. I might disagree with you. I might hate it. Doesn’t mean I’d have to insult you. Taste is entirely subjective. The only reason that the canon of classics exists is because a group of people decided that these books were somehow worthy. They enjoyed them, or got something out of them, people wanted to read them and so they were read. Any regular readers here will know that I’m not a huge fan of labels and defining X as not being Y. To me, most of what is great uses different elements mixed together. After all, that is what life is isn’t it? For example, Firefly is a sci-fi show it is, afterall, set in space, but it is also a romance, a war story, a crime caper, a drama, a comedy, a character study. Sure, I use labels, but I’m also prepared to look beyond that label, because a label is just that, something stuck on, for convenience’s sake.
- I have absolutely no problem with people disagreeing with me, or liking what I hate, or hating what I love. Just don’t think that because I read and enjoy crap like Jilly Cooper that I am incapable of reading and enjoying more “worthy” tomes. But please, if you think you know anything about me because I participated in one reading challenge? Yeah, nuff said.
Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
- While Sleepwalking
- The Goat Rodeo
- Books. Lists. Life
- Everybody lies
- The Written World
- The hidden side of a leaf
- Modern Musings
- A place for everything
- (leave your link in comments, Iâ€™ll add you here!)
Yesterday I sent one "fantasy/horror/paranormal/whatever" book to one girl who was so excited and asked me did I like it? I didn't read it so she asked me what kind of books I read. After I replied I was thinking how snobbish taste I have: my list was full of Booker Winners/short/long listed; Winners of Jerusalem Award; European Literary Award; my favourite writers are Nobel winners (I've even met Orhan Pamuk :)) but then I often like to explore and peek in some dark corners where "small literature" live and I often finding true pearls there. So I guess I'm not totally lost case after all ….
But no, fantasy is still not my cup of tea.
Stretching beyond your normal reading world and trying something new is a wonderful experience. Some fantasy books are wonderful reads. Full of characters that are memorable and grow. Which is what, imo, makes reading enjoyable!
Very well said. I too think Terry Pratchett is a genius (and Neil Gaiman), and yet I also love Garcia Marquez. Capote, Eugenides, world epics, etc. The audacity of me!
It's just hilarious how she tried to make US seem close-minded and snobbish, when that is exactly what she is.
Great response to that post. I really hate it when people criticize something they won't read. How do you KNOW? The same thing happens with romance novels, and I just don't understand- are people that jaded about love that they need to make fun of it?
Thanks for visiting me.
Milan, I don't think it is snobbish to like what you like, it is only snobbish if you look down on other types of books as "not worthy" instead of thinking, "I'm not into them." And there is nothing that says everyone has to like the same thing. Which is, I think, the point Tuffy misses.
Exactly Nancy. And that is what the challenge was all about.
Hey Nymeth, TP is one of my favourite authors, and I'll never apologise for that, no matter what others think of him. His books are fantastic and entertaining and make points about people and culture and society, but never at the expense of the story ot characters. That is a feat.
Lisa, I'll admit that Romance isn't really my thing. Although Harlequin did make me read Georgette Heyer, which I really loved, and I have a few comfort reads that are romance-types too. And I really enjoyed Colleen Gleason's The Rest Falls Away which is a vampire romance,in a way. So maybe romances are my bag too…
Nicely done, Fence. A very good Thursday Thirteen. Well written and sane, which is more than can be said for the post which generated it.
And, oh my gosh, do I love that picture! It says so much about the personality of cats and is perfect for today's post!
Gosh, some people are really full of themselves, aren't they? It just makes me sick when someone tries to tell me what is "worthy" of reading and what not. Most of this so-called "high-brow literature" can go to hell for all I care. I've read a fair amount of it and it just bores me to tears. And I'm not ashamed of admitting that. Some people on the other hand enjoy reading books that I would put down after 10 pages. And who am I to tell them not to? And who the hell is that person to tell me what to goddamn do? ;o)
I've a mind to get over there and tell her or him to get a fucking life and stop harassing people for having a different taste. But then again, I've got better things to do and it's just not worth the effort.
BTw, I have just watched Shindig again and that makes me think of Mal saying: "See how I'm not punching him? I think I must've grown." LOL
I suppose I don't think of reading as a contest. I'm all for challenges and such; ok, well only sometimes, but people tend to take a holier-than-thou attitude when it comes to protecting the integrity of their chosen genre. Read, enjoy, expand your horizons, but don't mock me because it took me FOUR days to read AG. ;) Love that photo!
(Btw, I really didn't time myself when I read AG…)
Great post! I have read fantasy for years and that person is not the first person to insult me for doing so. I wish I had written down the source, but somewhere I read that people that read fantasy are actually generally rather intelligent because they can dispell reality and use their imagination, where other forms of literature are about life without breaking outside of it. I don't where I read that anymore, though, so I just keep it in the back of my mind when people make comments about my reading choices.
Besides, I read other stuff besides fantasy, although, most of my classic reading over the last four years was only what I needed for school, one of these days my interest in it will come back, but I am not forcing myself to read what other people think I should.
One last thing: He says that these books will not be remembered 50 years from now, well, I just have to say that isn't "The Princess Bride" over fifty years old… The Margart Weis/Tracy Hickman book came out over 20 years ago… I think that some of the books seem to be lasting. :)
For some reason it took me all day to post my comment because the "submit comment' button wouldn't show up.
Well, that person is an idiot with too much free time on his hand that he spends running down people he knows nothing about, BUT! He did say one sensible thing. The Gate to Women's Country really is an amazing book, and the best of the Tepper works I've read by far.
Isn't there more pressing things affecting the world than debating on the value of what people read? I can understand your response to this idiocy. Enjoy whatever YOU want to read, the important thing is to exercise your mind.
Be well and enjoy the day.
Carl, there is such a difference between not liking a particular book, or art, and giving out about the people who like it. The nicest people can like the strangest stuff. But I'm still waiting on the tentacle porn suggestions ;)
Samulli, "And who the hell is that person to tell me what to goddamn do?" I totally agree. That was my major problem with the post. Hate fantasy books all you want. Just don't tell me I can't enjoy them. And you are totally right, it really isn't worth the effort to get worked up about it :)
Four whole days Livewire! let the pointing and laughing begin ;)
That's odd Kailana, the missing submit button, not that you read fantasy, hope it doesn't happen again.
I must give it a read at some point dew. As I said, I have read some Tepper before, and enjoyed it but I always have to try to ignore the preachiness of it.
You too Danielle
Wish I could post an interesting comment about books and authors. Truth is, I am rubbish at reading although I am currently trying to get through 'P.S. I Love You' by Cecelia Ahern. Anyone read it?
Thanks for popping over to Kildare today!
"His books are fantastic and entertaining and make points about people and culture and society, but never at the expense of the story or characters. That is a feat.!"
Exactly! That is why I love him also.
Oh, the blog drama.. Sounds like the "FanDumb" person just wanted to stirr it up.
Great post! I read the blog and the comments. People like this irritate me. I don't mind opinions. If you don't like fantasy, so be it. I don't have a problem with that. I do have a problem with sweeping generalizations and criticsm though. This person doesn't know me or anyone else in this challenge.
"but people tend to take a holier-than-thou attitude when it comes to protecting the integrity of their chosen genre." Actually, Livewire, I truly believe that most people do not do this, only a relative few in comparison to the number of reasonable, rational people who are passionate about the stuff they love but do not act 'superior' as Tuffy put it. Certainly none of the people that participated in the Once Upon a Time Challenge are that way.
I think one of the things Tuffy misunderstood was the word 'challenge'. It wasn't about racing to finish books. And the contests weren't about rewarding people for reading fast or alot or anything like that. The contests I held were done so that I had an excuse to get great stuff into people's hands because that is the kind of stuff I love to do. None of us needed motivation to read, we all would have been reading anyway. This challenge, like most challenges, are about the sense of community.
The only 'contest' that had to do with reading that may be viewed as me pushing what I like off on others was the Gaiman contest. And hell, I love Neil Gaiman and will take ANY opportunity to encourage people to give his work a try.
I don't know who it was who said they read A.G. in three days but I feel safe in saying that their motivation for saying so was that they were excited about the book and excited that they were able to get through a fairly long book in such a short period of time…that is what annoys me most about Tuffy's post…she in no way considers the spirit of the individuals involved in this. She doesn't take the time to consider that the majority of readers of any genre are passionate because they make connections with the books, the books change their lives in small or large ways, the books bring entertainment and joy to them and they long to share that and make a connection with others.
I've seen this phenomenon at sci fi and comic conventions. A divergent group of people get together who may, under other circumstances, never give each other a second look and they share things from deep inside themselves and form such a sense of community all because of something they are 'fan-ish' about. It is amazing and gives one a wonderful sense of belonging. That is certainly what my blog is all about, especially with the challenges, and I would assume that is why the rest of you blog as well.
Tuffy and Trite just don't 'get it'..or more likely they do but choose not to online to get a rise out of people. Reading is its own reward. All the challenges and contests do is give us a place to focus our attention for awhile while we read so that we can share and bond and enjoy each other's online company.
Books are overrated!! TV is the only thing I do!! ;-)
I consider those lists merely as "suggestions". A lot of them are puzzling with their choices of was is high art and what is trash…the same could be said about TV, movies, music!
Love the picture!!
Hi Misslionheart, I haven't read PS I Love You, I actually haven't read much chick lit stuff recently. I have heard it is quite readable, but all the hype put me off when it was first released. I know it has died down by now, so I may pick it up.
I think you are right SciFiChick. And we all gave in to the stirring, but a little bit of ranting is fun, once we don't take it too seriously, which i didn't.
Exactly Stephanie, I totally agree.
You said it Carl. Of course, it can also be its own punishment too ;)
Sally, TV rawks! Well parts of it. Other parts hurt lol
If by challenging he means really hard to understand and lacking any plot… he/she is right about me. I am too old to waste time reading anything that doesn't make me happy on some level and fiction that doesn't make me happy is often what others think would be good for me.