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Humerus
Jul 7, 2009

Rule of acquisition #111:
Treat people in your debt like family...exploit them.



A lot of people in the general chat thread said they wanted a thread to be an “intro to Real Literature (™)” and other people said it wasn’t needed because we have a literature thread already. People said that thread was too insular and dickish so they wanted one that wasn’t that and then people replied “so make one” and that was responded with “why don’t you?” and everyone just circle jerking in their little camps was getting tiring so here you go, a thread for getting into non-genre literature.

I actually don’t really read much non-genre fiction, unless you count mysteries and thrillers (I don’t). But in a way, as pointed out many times in the chat thread, that may work to an advantage because we can all go on this journey of branching out together. It’s my hope this thread will be chill (although people were saying the other lit thread is pretty chill too so who knows). People that don’t read much literature (or read much at all I suppose) can come in and ask for recommendations based on other stuff they have liked, and people that are more knowledgeable can drop by and share authors/books they think are worth reading. Everyone starts somewhere and who knows, if you don’t read non-genre now maybe you’ll discover some new favorite authors and can share with others who are in a similar place you were.

So I’ll start with a book I read recently, actually the only book I wouldn’t hesitate to call literature I’ve read this year:

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (2015) - I read this earlier this year based on a wildcard in the challenge thread, and it was well written and thought provoking but honestly it wasn’t for me, and that’s ok. I don’t regret reading it, it was just depressing as hell.

How about you guys? What have you read and liked, or didn’t like? What do you want more of? Are we prepared for the blind to lead the blind? Let’s have fun with it and be chill.

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TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



Moby Dick does literally everything most genre works want to do better than genre.

I was debating opening a let's read Moby Dick thread, dunno if there is interest.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

We just did moby dick as botm thread recently and the thread is still open.

https://forums.somethingawful.com/s...er=1&perpage=40

Famethrowa
Oct 5, 2012


Hell yeah chill thread.

It's a real basic bitch suggestion, but I've found a lot of value in going back and reading high school assigned books.

The Scarlet Letter was one that I particularly abhorred, but it holds up very well on reread. Found a lot of interesting insights in American culture and beliefs in redemption reading it. Plus the puritans were freaks.

Famethrowa fucked around with this message at 21:48 on May 31, 2020

ulvir
Jan 2, 2005



Famethrowa posted:

Hell yeah chill thread.

It's a real basic bitch suggestion, but I've found a lot of value in going back and reading high school assigned books.

nah, that’s actually a good suggestion. if you’re sixteen and don’t really understand why you should bother with whatever book that’s probably just really boring anyway, you’re not in the right frame of mind to appreciate it, let alone being charitable enough to actually look for things to appreciate. and sometimes a few extra years and some added maturity/experience/foreknowledge can help a lot on its own

nut
Jul 30, 2019



A couple months ago I reread lord of the flies thinking that same logic and came to realize that i absolutely did not read lord of the flies in highschool

Humerus
Jul 7, 2009

Rule of acquisition #111:
Treat people in your debt like family...exploit them.



I've been meaning to reread Brave New World as that was probably my favorite of the assigned books back in high school but is it classic enough to ascend into literature? On the other hand, maybe I should reread Scarlet Letter because that was one of my least favorite ones.

Famethrowa
Oct 5, 2012


Humerus posted:

I've been meaning to reread Brave New World as that was probably my favorite of the assigned books back in high school but is it classic enough to ascend into literature? On the other hand, maybe I should reread Scarlet Letter because that was one of my least favorite ones.

It's genre imo, and it's pretty polemic, but drat if it isn't a good read. You might more out of it this time around. Far more applicable and convincing then 1984.

Why not both? BNW is pretty short.

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



ulvir posted:

nah, that’s actually a good suggestion. if you’re sixteen and don’t really understand why you should bother with whatever book that’s probably just really boring anyway, you’re not in the right frame of mind to appreciate it, let alone being charitable enough to actually look for things to appreciate. and sometimes a few extra years and some added maturity/experience/foreknowledge can help a lot on its own

Even if you read and liked the book, I think there's value in going back and re-reading without the need to come up with a reading that will match the teacher's well enough to get a good grade. Almost every teacher I ever had in high school was of the "Hrm, you put a lot of thought into this but I don't agree with it so you fail" school of grading. That definitely impacted my enjoyment of books we read in class because it was less "read this book and think about it" and more "here's a list of my thoughts about the book, now read the book and match it up with the list".

Burning Rain
Jul 17, 2006

What's happening?!?!


I made a mutually beneficial agreement with my lit teacher in high school that I could chill out in the back of the classroom and read my own books if I stopped pestering her with questions.

Also, Lord of the Flies is a really cool book that I never read in high school, not being from an English speaking country. I'm really surprised some people seem to dislike it. It really should have something for everyone, even high schoolers - it is well written, has a lot of crazy stuff happening, it's surprisingly well constructed and there's stuff to think about.


Edit: one good way to start getting into 'literature' would be checking some of the prizewinners to see if any of the blurbs catch your eye. I know it doesn't always seem that way from the outside, but Pulitzer and Booker prize winners are usually quite far from the super highbrow stuff that I've seen some genre readers painting them as. If you're looking for some more diverse stuff, the international prizes like Best Translated Book Awards and International Booker Prize are a good bet, although they do tend to favour more 'literary' books. Like, I loved Can Xue's Frontier, but it's definitely not a book I would recommend to somebody not used to being challenged by their reading.

And please, don't take on it as a challenge to read all of the winners or whatever. One of the fun things about literary fiction (for the lack of a better term) is that different books focus on different aspects of the literature. Some are all about the language, while others delve deep into the psychology of their characters. Still others are experimenting with the structure or the reader's perception of reality. There are plenty of good straightforward realistic stories as well.

That's also why it's not that easy to just recommend 'a good literary book'. It's not really a genre, the term means very different things to different people. If you know what you enjoy in books or media in general, it gets much easier for others to suggest you something.

Burning Rain fucked around with this message at 06:20 on Jun 1, 2020

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Gravy Boat 2k

Antivehicular recommended Death Comes for the Archbishop in the chat thread, and I am seconding it. I also recommend Ann Petry's The Street, which I have nominated for BotM a few times. Deeply moving and insightful books that are also very approachable.

Edit: I just remembered that I recommended The Master and Margarita (read the Burgin/O'Connor translation, or else the Ginsburg) the last time someone asked for newbie Real Literature recommendations. It's a particularly good choice for genre fans because it's paced like a thriller and is full of fantastical imagery, but it's much more than that too. Hell of a book.

Sham bam bamina! fucked around with this message at 07:55 on Jun 1, 2020

nut
Jul 30, 2019



I used it to ask for recs of my own in the chat thread by Life and Death are Wearing Me Out by Mo Yan is just about my favourite book. It’s a really funny multigenerational story about landowner killed and resurrected as different animals on his land through the back half of the 20th century in rural China. Having no schooling in history and ignoring whatever someone had tried to teach me, I’m pretty floored by any historical fiction that leaves me knowing more about a country as opposed to one where it’s all references to people and places I dunno.

The book opens on the landowner being battered and deep fried in hell which is v good

Famethrowa
Oct 5, 2012


nut posted:

The book opens on the landowner being battered and deep fried in hell which is v good

I'm instantly sold.

Fsmhunk
Jul 19, 2012

Megatron is a wimp!


I'm not reading anything that doesn't have elfs or swords, or at least a monster in it.

my bony fealty
Oct 1, 2008










Fsmhunk posted:

I'm not reading anything that doesn't have elfs or swords, or at least a monster in it.

Baudolino calls your name

Eco in general is good to check out for genre readers, his books get pretty wild and fantastic at times and are all page-turners.

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

Fsmhunk posted:

I'm not reading anything that doesn't have elfs or swords, or at least a monster in it.

Have you heard of The Bible?

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

my bony fealty posted:

Eco in general is good to check out for genre readers, his books get pretty wild and fantastic at times and are all page-turners.
I am a genre reader and I second this statement.

TheAardvark
Mar 3, 2019



Is The Name Of The Rose a good (the best) starting point for Eco? That's the big obvious one which I've never gotten around to reading.

ToxicFrog
Apr 26, 2008




TheAardvark posted:

Is The Name Of The Rose a good (the best) starting point for Eco? That's the big obvious one which I've never gotten around to reading.

It was my first Eco and is still my favourite, so I'd say yes.

That said, what makes The Name of the Rose "Literature™" rather than "Historical Fiction"?

E: like, until they came up here it never occurred to me to think of Rose or Foucault's Pendulum as Literature, partly because they both seem to belong to existing genres (historical mystery and conspiratorial thriller respectively) and partly because they're fun and accessible reads

ToxicFrog fucked around with this message at 18:17 on Jun 1, 2020

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Gravy Boat 2k

ToxicFrog posted:

E: like, until they came up here it never occurred to me to think of Rose or Foucault's Pendulum as Literature, partly because they both seem to belong to existing genres (historical mystery and conspiratorial thriller respectively) and partly because they're fun and accessible reads
This is why people were pointing out in the other thread(s) that "literary" as a category of fiction is largely meaningless and why I made a point to distinguish "serious" rather than "literary" fiction from TBB's usual fare (also an inadequate word, to be sure).

Lex Neville
Apr 15, 2009


ToxicFrog posted:

That said, what makes The Name of the Rose "Literature™" rather than "Historical Fiction"?

"Literary" is a quality any kind of fiction can have and is separate from genre altogether. There are loads of literary works of historical fiction I think "genre fiction" as opposed to "literary fiction" is a bit of a misnomer. After all, if you really feel the need to, you can make up a genre for any kind of fiction, literary or otherwise. In other words, prefacing "fiction" with whichever genre does not preclude it from being "literary". Years ago in uni we had a discussion about more or less this subject and I remember my professor pitching the idea that the reason typical genre-fiction genres such as SF/F, romance, whodunnits etc are often not considered literature is that (historically) many such works either are formulaic or offer (relatively) little artistic or intellectual value, and for whatever that's worth, it has kind of stuck with me. What exactly makes literature literary will probably never be settled, though, so in the end, who really gives a poo poo. The point is not whether a work is literary. Everyone's never going to agree on that. The point is whether it's good.

Another for what it's worth: if you'd ask me, Brave New World definitely qualifies as literature.

my bony fealty
Oct 1, 2008










Lex Neville posted:

"Literary" is a quality any kind of fiction can have and is separate from genre altogether. There are loads of literary works of historical fiction I think "genre fiction" as opposed to "literary fiction" is a bit of a misnomer. After all, if you really feel the need to, you can make up a genre for any kind of fiction, literary or otherwise. In other words, prefacing "fiction" with whichever genre does not preclude it from being "literary". Years ago in uni we had a discussion about more or less this subject and I remember my professor pitching the idea that the reason typical genre-fiction genres such as SF/F, romance, whodunnits etc are often not considered literature is that (historically) many such works either are formulaic or offer (relatively) little artistic or intellectual value, and for whatever that's worth, it has kind of stuck with me. What exactly makes literature literary will probably never be settled, though, so in the end, who really gives a poo poo. The point is not whether a work is literary. Everyone's never going to agree on that. The point is whether it's good.

Another for what it's worth: if you'd ask me, Brave New World definitely qualifies as literature.

I would generally agree with this but also point out that it is also true that "literary fiction" is used as a genre classification of its own insofar as what shelf the book goes on at a book store

A good tip is to see if any genre authors you like have also written books considered literature, Marlon James is a good example, or Iain (M) Banks.

ToxicFrog
Apr 26, 2008




Lex Neville posted:

"Literary" is a quality any kind of fiction can have and is separate from genre altogether. There are loads of literary works of historical fiction I think "genre fiction" as opposed to "literary fiction" is a bit of a misnomer. After all, if you really feel the need to, you can make up a genre for any kind of fiction, literary or otherwise. In other words, prefacing "fiction" with whichever genre does not preclude it from being "literary".

This makes sense, but it is not, in practice, how most people categorize it. You can argue that "what genre" and "literary y/n" are separate axes and that (e.g.) the strict segregation between Genre Fiction and Actual Literature¹ in bookstores and libraries is an artefact of the difficulty involved in placing the same volume on two different shelves at the same time, but even outside those contexts, most people seem to draw a sharp divide between them -- a book is either genre fiction or literary fiction, never both.

You see that in this forum, in fact; most of the forum is people reading genre fiction for fun, and then there's a minority of people who are very into Serious Literature, and the latter have a lot of poo poo to talk about the former. Growing up, we didn't really have this division, and The Name of the Rose tended to drift between "historical stuff" like Shogun, A Choice of Destinies, I, Claudius, and my dad's huge collection of historical romances, and "mystery stuff" like Doyle, Christie, and Stout, depending on the whims of whoever shelved it last, but this really doesn't seem to be the norm in most public places where people talk about books.


¹ which are often just used as shorthands for "bad books" and "good books" by whoever's talking

quote:

Years ago in uni we had a discussion about more or less this subject and I remember my professor pitching the idea that the reason typical genre-fiction genres such as SF/F, romance, whodunnits etc are often not considered literature is that (historically) many such works either are formulaic or offer (relatively) little artistic or intellectual value, and for whatever that's worth, it has kind of stuck with me. What exactly makes literature literary will probably never be settled, though, so in the end, who really gives a poo poo. The point is not whether a work is literary. Everyone's never going to agree on that. The point is whether it's good.

This becomes a vicious cycle, though; there's nothing of "artistic or intellectual value" in genre fiction because anything of value² retroactively becomes Serious Literature. I've seen this dynamic at work a lot over the years and it frustrates me immensely. And often "artistic or intellectual value" is just used as a proxy for "the author is safely dead and the book is turgid and inaccessible enough that I can use having read it as an excuse to poo poo on people who haven't".

I'm no longer entirely sure what the point of this post was, except perhaps to explain why I was so surprised to see Eco represented here -- his books are fun, gripping, accessible³, and slot neatly into existing genre categories, i.e. everything that literary fiction isn't (or, at least, everything that the loudest proponents of literary fiction seem to want it not to be).

The same applies to Lord of the Flies, on reflection. It was one of the few assignments in school that I actually enjoyed reading, rather than grimly trudging through in between C.J. Cherryh novels.


² for some definition of "value" anyways
³ I mean, I'm sure there's a lot of depth that I missed -- especially in Rose, which I read when I was like 14 and should probably reread -- but you don't need to be a deep-sea diver to enjoy them, is my point

Crespolini
Mar 9, 2014



ToxicFrog posted:


I'm no longer entirely sure what the point of this post was, except perhaps to explain why I was so surprised to see Eco represented here -- his books are fun, gripping, accessible³, and slot neatly into existing genre categories, i.e. everything that literary fiction isn't (or, at least, everything that the loudest proponents of literary fiction seem to want it not to be).


The lit-crowd on this forum and probably everywhere loves Eco and are vocal about saying it

E: even permabanned user and genre-reader-boogieman extraordinaire Bravestofthelamps used The Name of the Rose as an example of how do it right in his gently caress patric rothfus thread

Crespolini fucked around with this message at 22:34 on Jun 1, 2020

Lex Neville
Apr 15, 2009


ToxicFrog posted:

This becomes a vicious cycle, though; there's nothing of "artistic or intellectual value" in genre fiction because anything of value² retroactively becomes Serious Literature.

Only if you let yourself be fooled that "genre" and "literary y/n" are not on separate axes. Literary quality and the possibility for a work to fit into any one category are not mutually exclusive, despite whatever lazy shorthand some or even most people use to distinguish between good and bad. Plenty of books that fit within a certain genre are considered Serious Literature, but what those books tend to have in common is that they somehow rise above their respective genres by defying its typical characteristics in some way. For instance, you could argue that Brave New World is science fiction, but in many ways it distinguishes itself from other sci-fi works, not the least of which is its incisive cultural criticism. Ultimately, though, there is no way around the fact that there is a lot chaff in genre fiction and the same is obviously the case for works that are less easily categorized, but those aren't typically read simply by virtue of belonging to whatever category they might fit in; I think the scorn towards genre fiction in part stems from that seemingly uncritical tendency of "I just want elves!".

As for the rest of your post, if you want I'll respond more elaborately later tonight or tomorrow as I'm working right now, but I'm getting the sense that you're bemoaning a perceived trend that you really don't have to let affect your own conviction. I don't mean for that to come off rude (and I hope it even makes sense, does it?).

ToxicFrog
Apr 26, 2008




Crimpolioni posted:

The lit-crowd on this forum and probably everywhere loves Eco and are vocal about saying it

E: even permabanned user and genre-reader-boogieman extraordinaire Bravestofthelamps used The Name of the Rose as an example of how do it right in his gently caress patric rothfus thread

I mean it's not like I ever actually looked at the literature thread in this forum—between the child-loving title and the fact that the BotL was the most prominent face of the literature crowd here, why the gently caress would I ever be tempted to?

Lex Neville posted:

As for the rest of your post, if you want I'll respond more elaborately later tonight or tomorrow as I'm working right now, but I'm getting the sense that you're bemoaning a perceived trend that you really don't have to let affect your own conviction. I don't mean for that to come off rude (and I hope it even makes sense, does it?).

Yeah, I don't think it actually needs an elaborate response, I'm just kvetching about the tendency to present literature and genre as fundamental opposites and then use that false divide as an excuse to poo poo on people who enjoy genre fiction

That and wondering who the Umberto Eco of sci-fi is


On the plus side, this thread has reminded me that (a) there's still a bunch of Eco I haven't read and (b) I should reread Rose now that I'm older and hopefully better able to appreciate it.

TheAardvark
Mar 3, 2019



ToxicFrog posted:

I mean it's not like I ever actually looked at the literature thread in this forum—between the child-loving title and the fact that the BotL was the most prominent face of the literature crowd here, why the gently caress would I ever be tempted to?

I'm happy this thread was made, please do not tempt restarting this argument

Was already in the middle of a book but I think I'll be starting Name of the Rose this week. Apparently already owned on my Kindle(?). I'm assuming there's only the one translation?

ToxicFrog
Apr 26, 2008




TheAardvark posted:

I'm happy this thread was made, please do not tempt restarting this argument

Sorry, not trying to rekindle any arguments! I'm glad this thread exists.

quote:

Was already in the middle of a book but I think I'll be starting Name of the Rose this week. Apparently already owned on my Kindle(?). I'm assuming there's only the one translation?

Huh. A delightful gift from your past self?

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Gravy Boat 2k

ToxicFrog posted:

I'm no longer entirely sure what the point of this post was, except perhaps to explain why I was so surprised to see Eco represented here -- his books are fun, gripping, accessible³, and slot neatly into existing genre categories, i.e. everything that literary fiction isn't (or, at least, everything that the loudest proponents of literary fiction seem to want it not to be).
Serious reading is fun and gripping, if not always very accessible. Nobody in the Real Literature thread is setting down The Dictionary of the Khazars and saying, "Hm, yes, I am smart," with a stroke at the beard and a sip from the snifter. In fact, people are reading these books because they actually like them. This is how people in that thread post about what they're reading:

Lil Mama Im Sorry posted:

holy poo poo The Blind Owl is loving awesome. it gives you one of those great feelings as a reader a third of the way in that you're reading something really special.

Ras Het posted:

Imo that page is really funny since its contextualised like "look! this author likes piss" and then the content is basically "look! this character likes piss". It's like the author is preparing his own explanation for liking piss

derp posted:

I love how you get sucked into the bizarre mind-state of GH, but when you pull yourself back and think of the objective reality of what actually happened in the book, its kind of loving hilarious.

OscarDiggs posted:

Missed the BOTM Thread for it so I'll have to post here, but goddamn was Lincoln In The Bardo amazing. I'm just beating myself that it took me so long to get through. I was sorta hesitant when in one breath everyone was praising it, and on the other you were talking about all the dick and orgy jokes but I just can't imagine it without them.

As a filthy genre reader, this book made me get it. I have never had the thoughts or feelings that I had from reading Lincoln in the Bardo with any other book, except for maybe the Discworld books. Where do I go from here?

Edit: Yikes. I didn't mean for all that gushing to be at the top of the page. Apologies.

jagstag posted:

it's cool to like books
It is cool to like books.

ToxicFrog posted:

Yeah, I don't think it actually needs an elaborate response, I'm just kvetching about the tendency to present literature and genre as fundamental opposites and then use that false divide as an excuse to poo poo on people who enjoy genre fiction
You're missing the point. I have about ten Cherryh novels on my shelf. I have this thing on my shelf, which is... certainly no Cherryh. Genre fiction has no shortage of good books to read, and only an idiot would deny the literary worth of Raymond Chandler or Philip K. Dick, and even the trashiest pulp has as much of a right to be read and engaged with as any other book. But genre fiction is also bound by ingrained, self-perpetuating habits and mentalities that are very limiting overall – it's not everything, but plenty of people are content with making it all they read because they're comfortable with it, and it's deeply saddening to see readers retreat into this incestuous insularity and avoid anything that even threatens to push the edges of their comfort zone, on the assumption that it would be a joyless chore because it isn't what they've already read a thousand times, and with the sour-grapes assurance that anyone who does like it must be tricking themselves into seeing clothes on the emperor. People get derisive about this because it is fundamentally juvenile, like refusing to eat anything but pizza. It's not a constructive reaction, but it's rooted in disappointment more than self-aggrandizement (which obviously is there too). "Genre fiction" is not a problem; the problem is what people do with it.

ToxicFrog posted:

That and wondering who the Umberto Eco of sci-fi is
There isn't one. There isn't a Joyce or a Rabelais or a Nabokov of sci-fi either (except for Nabokov himself when he wrote Ada, or Ardor). This is more or less my point.

ToxicFrog posted:

On the plus side, this thread has reminded me that (a) there's still a bunch of Eco I haven't read and (b) I should reread Rose now that I'm older and hopefully better able to appreciate it.
I think that's another part of it. People will make up their minds about this stuff when they're kids and don't have the frame of reference to appreciate it. I wonder if half the books you slogged through while wishing you were reading Cherryh would have the same effect today.

ToxicFrog
Apr 26, 2008




Sham bam bamina! posted:

I think that's another part of it. People will make up their minds about this stuff when they're kids and don't have the frame of reference to appreciate it. I wonder if half the books you slogged through while wishing you were reading Cherryh would have the same effect today.

Maybe?? I gave two or three of them another shot after university and still hated them, and on the flip side, I read Rose and Pendulum while I was in high school and enjoyed the poo poo out of them -- but those weren't school assignments, I borrowed them from my parents. I just think I'd appreciate them more if I reread them now.

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



Sham bam bamina! posted:

I think that's another part of it. People will make up their minds about this stuff when they're kids and don't have the frame of reference to appreciate it. I wonder if half the books you slogged through while wishing you were reading Cherryh would have the same effect today.

If you're in school, chances are you don't want to be in school. And if you do like being in school, chances are there's another class you'd prefer to be in. For a lot of people the natural reaction to being forced to read something (when you'd rather be doing something else) is to dislike the object your attention is directed at. I think that's continued with "Good literature." People respond to the "good" part like it's some kind of moral instruction, akin to taking foul tasting medicine. If you approach something with the thought "there is a reason to enjoy this book" you've put aside the mental taint of the bad imperative behind your reading.

An example for me was when I was fourteen/fifteen and we were studying Julius Caesar for an exam. Often people will say they hated having to "extract themes and symbolism" but that's not the most proximal bit of that. They don't enjoy treating reading a story as something other than just simply reading the story. The weekend before the exam I knew I couldn't do anymore, so I just sat down and read the play like I would read anything else. I loved it. All it took was approaching it the same way I'd approach what I read for enjoyment.

my bony fealty
Oct 1, 2008










as an avid genre fiction reader here's some of my favorite authors categorized as literature, read these if you only read Sanderson or w/e and wanna branch out

Proust
Graves
Borges
Nabokov
Eco
Calvino
Dovstoesky

yeah thats a bunch of dead white dudes, im trying to fix it ok ok

as for "books assigned in high school that are really great" my faves are The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird so give those another go

Ras Het
May 23, 2007

when I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child - but now I am a man.


It's been pointed out before, but on these forums "genre" tends to become a shorthand for "genres that dudes read", and the underlying implication is that the only things people read for fun are scifi, fantasy, horror, detective novels, thrillers and historical drama. But to take the NYT bestseller list as an example, the top 5 is currently John Grisham, Delia Owens, Celeste Ng, Sally Rooney and Jennifer Weiner, of who the last four seem to balance between suspense, romance and literary fiction. I'm not familiar with any of the books, but book buyers, of who the majority are women, seem entirely willing to pick up books of literary aspirations simply as something to enjoy, without needing them to be confined by some ancient genre convention. Think of how popular Elena Ferrante and Lucia Berlin have been lately

Take the plunge! Okay!
Feb 24, 2007



Yeah, I failed an interview for a job at a publishing house due to my complete blind spot for romance novels and cookbooks, which are, surprise surprise, the two best selling categories in my country.

Famethrowa
Oct 5, 2012


Sham bam bamina! posted:

You're missing the point. I have about ten Cherryh novels on my shelf. I have this thing on my shelf, which is... certainly no Cherryh. Genre fiction has no shortage of good books to read, and only an idiot would deny the literary worth of Raymond Chandler or Philip K. Dick, and even the trashiest pulp has as much of a right to be read and engaged with as any other book. But genre fiction is also bound by ingrained, self-perpetuating habits and mentalities that are very limiting overall – it's not everything, but plenty of people are content with making it all they read because they're comfortable with it, and it's deeply saddening to see readers retreat into this incestuous insularity and avoid anything that even threatens to push the edges of their comfort zone, on the assumption that it would be a joyless chore because it isn't what they've already read a thousand times, and with the sour-grapes assurance that anyone who does like it must be tricking themselves into seeing clothes on the emperor. People get derisive about this because it is fundamentally juvenile, like refusing to eat anything but pizza. It's not a constructive reaction, but it's rooted in disappointment more than self-aggrandizement (which obviously is there too). "Genre fiction" is not a problem; the problem is what people do with it.


this is a good post. I think that much like the picky eating habits of eating only pizza, a lot of the resistance to reading challenging works stems from fear of the unknown. Throw in some insecurity around "not feeling smart enough", and I think you have the core of it. I've talked to a lot of people IRL who have expressed this fear exactly. I think the QCS thread (and I'm not trying to start drama or throw shade) was really speaking to how having derision doesn't help that insecurity.

so, I'm pretty excited for this thread, I hope we get some interested genre readers, and we can demystify """""literature""""" for them.

Lex Neville
Apr 15, 2009


I know we shouldn't be posting about other posters and all that, but yeah, Sham, you've been owning recently, man. Very much enjoyed reading your posts.

Lex Neville fucked around with this message at 14:51 on Jun 2, 2020

Fsmhunk
Jul 19, 2012

Megatron is a wimp!


my bony fealty posted:

Baudolino calls your name

Eco in general is good to check out for genre readers, his books get pretty wild and fantastic at times and are all page-turners.

This actually seems sick.

derp
Jan 21, 2010

when i get up all i want to do is go to bed again

Lipstick Apathy

I think what Sham bam said is v important. People read books because they enjoy them. People who enjoy literature aren't preaching it so hard because they think it's good for them, or is good for society, or makes them smarter or some other nonsense, but because they actually love the books they are reading and can't stop talking about them.

I think there are a couple small groups of people who give this impression of literature being 'obscure weirdness for smart people' to the rest of the normal book-reading world. On one side there are the few that repeat constantly that all genre is trash for idiot babies, and is of no value and you are a moron if you enjoy it. This makes 'people who enjoy literature' out to be ivory tower snobs completely disconnected from reality, because everyone I know and everyone you know has at some point enjoyed at least one, and probably many, genre books. On the other extreme are the people who try to read one literary classic, don't like it, and instead of thinking 'This one wasn't for me' or 'I wonder if I'm missing something?' they think 'Everyone on earth is pretending to like this book in order to look smart. All of literature is a scam, wake up sheeple.' For whatever reason, those two groups get a lot of attention compared to the every-day normal literature readers who are just thinking 'drat, this is a great book!'

If you do try a literary work, and don't like it, then don't sweat it (even if it's a 'must read' classic!) just put it down and move on. It doesn't mean you aren't smart or aren't cultured or whatever nonsense you've heard. Not everyone likes all the same books. I'm sure you haven't liked every sci-fi book you've picked up, either.

Famethrowa
Oct 5, 2012


Alright here's a real dumb barrier to me reading serious books: I struggle with reading long or complicated things on an ereader since it's so easy to zone out with a dumb genrebook but reading traditional books is uncomfortable for me.

What kinda tricks do you guys use to read real nice smelling physical books uhhhh one-handed? it's kinda taxing to do. I see these neato page holder things that slot over their finger, anyone try them?

im making a sex joke but its because of a physical limitation irl.

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3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

BENIS


Famethrowa posted:

What kinda tricks do you guys use to read real nice smelling physical books uhhhh one-handed?

Open the spine correctly, so you're not fighting against that all the time.

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