Thursday, 17 March 2011
Have my reading habits changed since starting this blog?
Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
I certainly haven't become any more decisive.
When I started this blog, my intention was that it would start to engage my critical faculties again and get back into the habit of writing. At first, I didn't really know what I was going to write about; it was only over time that this evolved into writing about what I was reading.
I tweeted this when I had the inspiration for my new mission statement:
"Every book I read from now on - even trashy ones that are embarrassing to admit to - will get a blog review or a pithy tweet comment."
Then later the same day:
"I am hoping that if I have to declare everything that I read, I might be shamed into some more intelligent reading."
I have cheated a bit and not written about a couple of the more recent books I have read - but this is because some of them have been part of a series, and I wanted to write about them en bloc when I have finished the series. There were also a couple of books I didn't write about at the time when I read them because I wanted to buy them for friends as Christmas presents and didn't want to give anything away ("The Twisted Heart" by Rebecca Gowers - a good book with an academic research background that made me feel nostalgic for the excitement of pursuing the moment of intellectual inspiration - and "Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde, which is an impressive, quirky and funny creation of a detailed fantasy world). Apart from those exceptions, I think I have been true to my intention to blog or tweet on every book I read. True-ish.
I still read just as much trash, so the idea of being shamed into more intelligent reading hasn't exactly worked out. I just admit to the trash without the shame that I probably should feel. You can tell I still haven't totally shaken my literary snobbery. I still think that reading for entertainment is wonderful, valuable and I would hate to lose that pleasure in reading - but I don't think I should be reading so much trash in the same way that no-one should eat fish and chips every day.
But I think that this blog has changed my reading habits - even when I read the trash. I no longer have a bookmark - I keep my place with an index card, on which I note down quotes I like and ideas for the blog. When I read a book, a part of me is already starting to think what I might write on my blog. So in that sense I think it has changed my reading habits for the better. Where before I had become a passive reader, it is making me start to think again more critically and analytically, which I think is a good thing. Though the index card might be starting to get a bit obsessive.
I do now have a project within a project which I will do periodically. If you are a friend of mine who has come to this from my Facebook page, you might already be aware of this. In the UK, there has been a BBC series and accompanying book called "Faulks on Fiction" (the Faulks being author Sebastian Faulks). In it, in chapters on heroes, lovers, snobs and villains, he writes about a selection of authors and characters from the classics to more modern "literary" fiction. I've just bought the book, as I thought that it might be interesting to read the books he writes about and then see if I agree with him. I have just realised, however, that this might be a bad idea because I will have to reread "Tess of the D'Urbervilles," which I studied for A-levels, and loathed.
That last comment might have been influenced by the fact that I am typing this with an episode of the great "30 Rock" in the background. Liz Lemon rocks.