Tuesday, 5 October 2010

My Secret Shame - exposed.

Here they all are oppressing me, dammit (are there any I've borrowed from anyone? Do shout)
Forgive me, internet, for I have sinned.

I have slightly more qualifications in English literature than are entirely compatible with being happy and well-rounded. I have a library on my doorstep. I have books in my house. I have a mother who brings me a bag of all the latest fiction, pre-reviewed and digested for me whenever she visits (‘don’t read this one, somebody dies and it’s miserable. This one’s funny, you can read that. This one’s by that man who wrote the one that was on telly. It’s not as good’).

And yet.

I do not read fiction. And what’s more:

I don’t care.
I'm afraid you can indeed see What Not To Wear in the left hand corner there. Look: you think I got to be stylish without research? And sweat?
Other kinds of books, goodness yes. Knitting books, craft books. Vintage sewing books. Books on Wicca. Books on politics. Books on sociology. Books on psychology. Cookery books. Books on feminism. Spell books. Poetry. Newspapers. Graphic novels. Bonus points for political feminist graphic novels. Travel guides. The Argos catalogue. Fashion magazines. Home Improvement magazines. I read all these all the time. I’m never not reading something like that. Is there a new critique of capitalism with a feminist eco slant somewhere? Marvellous. I’m right there. Some book or other about a thrilling new knitting technique? Here I come, credit card in hand. Obscure feminist craft zine with recipes, only available in San Francisco? Thank God for Airmail and Paypal. New Argos catalogue out? Here I am, skippety-skipping across the Beehive centre carpark to see if they’re doing anything different this season in terms of woolly rugs. If I’ve run out of anything else I read the Boden catalogue. Look, they send me hundreds. They make such an effort. Someone needs to appreciate all those little questions they ask their models. But fiction? No, nyet, nope, sorry, not interested unless you stick a few Kitchener stitch directions or a nice recipe in between chapters 10 and 11.
Ah, Le Chat, comme je l'aime. But I do not understand Tardi
So I am at a crossroads. I am wondering whether I should just accept a happy utilitarian future in which everything I read is Useful and Improving, or if I should bite the bullet again and engage with fiction. Because I must have read some at some point. Perhaps I should, you know, go wild and (try and) enjoy myself. It’s not as if I’m a total aescetic: I do read poetry (says she desperately). And I do like a bit of fiction. I like Dickens! I like things you buy by the yard where everyone’s emotionally repressed and married to the wrong people! I liked Harry Potter! But beyond that – as someone says in one of the Adrian Mole books (ok, I do like them as well), ‘I have never read Dostoevsky. And with good luck and a fair wind, I shall never have to’.

Do feel free to leave me any fiction recommendations, to tell me I’m wrong, or to sympathise (although, please: no Magic Realism. That is where I draw the line, and I draw it firmly). Those of you who know me in real life – feel free to tell me off. I know you all will. But I have broad shoulders. Me and the Argos catalogue, we can take it. Off to look for a woolly rug. (I want one in beige. I’m not adventurous).


Anonymous said...

The World According to Garp, John Irving
The Pig and I, Rachel Toor
She's Come Undone and I know This Much is True, both by Wally Lamb

I love all of these books. I love fiction. I love different kinds of fiction. But these books are different. I'm also reading a new Wally Lamb book (new to me anyhow) called The Hour I First Believed, and so far I don't want to stop reading it.

I love your pictures of your marvelous collection!! My husband and I both have extremely different tastes and over 300 books combined. We love books!

West/CJ said...

I'm going to second She's Come Undone. It's been a while since I've read it, but it's truly fantastic.

I personally like cozy mysteries- aside from Agatha Christie (whom I worship), I like the kind of mysteries set in tea shops or bed and breakfasts. Something fun and easy to read that won't put interfere with my studying.

Oh, and don't feel bad. I read books about the Courts- for fun.

Marushka C. said...

I'm the opposite ... I devour fiction though it has moved to 2nd place behind knitting as major consumer of leisure time. I buy and borrow lots of nonfiction, usually of the Improving kind, but tend not to read much of it. Sometimes just getting the book serves to scratch the itch that led me to think I needed the book.

AC said...

DO IT! My favorite fiction author is Anne Tyler. I'd recommend just about anything in her repertoire.

mooncalf said...

Bless you for reading the Boden catalogue! I love those fake model interviews where they try to pretend the model is called Stephanie or Vanessa and is living the perfect 'Boden' life. They remind me of those little Page 3 Bios The Sun used to print (probably still do) but with a yummy mummy twist.

Susie said...

The Boden interviews are fake? {world comes crashing down around ears} - so... I am reading fiction in a roundabout way? - Johnnie. I feel betrayed.

Thank you for recommendations! A lot of these I haven't even heard of! I might even take the plunge and read one. Hmmm... (CJ, books about the Courts do sound fun, actually).