Monday, August 5, 2013

Potentially Problematic Opinions Month

I was so delighted when Alex from Adventures in TV Land contacted me, and even more delighted when she asked me to be part of a group blogging about Potentially Problematic Opinions Month over August.

I have really enjoyed reading Adventures in TV Land over the past year or so, and it's great to feel that Alex is now reading my blog - no pressure!

Anyway, on to Potentially Problematic Opinions Month!

Working in a bookstore, there are lots of potentially problematic opinions - liking or not liking certain books, authors or genres; recommending a book you know the child will love but having to try and convince the parent; and even dressing a certain way - I've been told, 'you don't look like you read fantasy, get me someone else'.

One question which comes up again and again, in bookstores around the world, is 'have you read all these books?' If the bookseller answers 'no', which they usually have to do, because no-one has that kind of time, then they're asked 'if you haven't read them all, how do you know what to recommend?'

Personally, I have a troubled relationship with the classics. Although there are many that I do love there are many more that I do not.

I love adventure tales, and stories of shipwrecks, but I have never read Moby Dick. I have never been moved to even pick it up and read the blurb.

I have never read anything by Ernest Hemingway. I know a few stories about Hemingway - the touching shortest of short stories he wrote ("Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.") and that he fought in Spain and loved bullfighting, and his legendary drinking. But again, I've never been moved to pick up a single one of his books.

I borrowed Dante's Inferno from a friend after she raved about it. I had it for A YEAR and still didn't read it all. I barely got into Hell.

I don't mind that I don't connect with some of the classics, but it was a big problem for some of the customers at the store, and it continues to be a big problem with some people I meet who know that I love books, but are shocked, horrified or disgusted because I don't love the books they think everyone should love.

Obviously, these people are wrong, but it's annoying when it happens.Everyone has their own top ten books, their favourites, books they return to time after time, books which have touched their lives and given strength in times of trouble and comfort in times of distress. Everyone has the right to choose their own books. I don't mind listening to people make the case for why I should read their favourite books, in fact I love it, but please, tread carefully when talking about classics to me.

Note that you can read more posts from people who are part of Potentially Problematic Opinions month here (from Britt in Boots), here (from Hum Drum Plum) and here (Adventures in TV Land).

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