Authors Answer 2 – Guilty Pleasure

I have a bit of a sense of déjà vu here, because I’m pretty sure I’ve answered this question before in the 26-week book challenge. Let me see if I can find the post…

Ah, here it is!

Okay, the actual question this week is Is there an author often criticised that you love to read?

The answer to that question is no, not really. Not through any effort on my part – I’ve just got a fairly limited taste in books, and I cannot recall that any of the authors I love have been criticized. Even if they had been, I wouldn’t give a flying fuck. As I said in my previous post on guilty pleasures: I don’t give a monkey’s what people think I ought to be reading, or what I ought to like.

I cannot say that I’ve changed my mind since then. Basically, books can be chucked on a scatter plot of individual tastes. On the Y-axis you have bad (bottom) to good (top), on the x-axis you have ‘I hate it’ (left) to ‘I love it’ (right). There are books which are fairly universally acknowledged as being ‘bad’ – these are your Fifty Shades of Grey, The Da Vinci Code, Twilight – the list is pretty damn big.

In this sense, when I say bad I mean that critics tend to say they are badly written. Does that mean that no one enjoys them? Well, given the stellar success of all three of the above novels, I don’t think I need to answer that. On my personal scatter plot they are at the bottom left, but that’s me. For others they’ll be at the bottom right, and some may even try to argue that they should be at the top right (though they’d be wrong).

As such, being snobbish about what books other people ought to be reading is at best counterproductive, and at worst it will make the entire internet ridicule you. My case in point is this article:

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2015/aug/31/terry-pratchett-is-not-a-literary-genius

If you can’t be bothered to read it, what the author of this article is essentially saying is ‘I’ve never read Terry Pratchett nor do I plan to, but he was a shit writer’. When I read it I couldn’t help but wonder whether he was deliberately trolling people or whether he really was naive enough to think he wouldn’t get the entire internet taking the piss out of him. Because let’s face it, you may not like him, but most people agree that Pratchett wrote some damn insightful satire of the world we all live in. Even if he hadn’t, to dismiss a writer’s entire oeuvre while at the same time admitting that you never have nor ever will read him is idiotic.

Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, no one ought to give a shit about what other people think they should be reading, or what constitutes an enjoyable book. I haven’t read a single book that I’d be ashamed to admit reading. As I said in my previous post on this subject, I may regret reading certain books, but why the fuck would I be ashamed of them?

So my advice to anyone is this: if anyone ever tries to tell you that you should be ashamed of reading a certain book or genre because it’s not worthy or because it’s crap, tell them to go fuck themselves sideways with a pointy stick.*

*That doesn’t mean you can’t give advice or recommendations, for or against a book! I have tried to tell people not to read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I have done it by telling them why it’s so godawful, and if they’ve then decided to read it after all I’ve only said, ‘don’t say I didn’t warn you’, not ‘you ought to be ashamed of yourself’.

For those interested, the original Authors Answer post can be found here.

 

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