As with any group of like-minded people, prolific readers disagree on a number of very specific issues. I decided to weigh in on some of the more common threads:
- E-books: I do not own an e-reader, and I have no plans to get one. My issue isn’t with needing to feel the texture of the pages or inhale the distinctive smell of paper books, but rather a couple things that are a bit more practical. First, I am extremely hard on things, and an e-reader would probably not last long in my hands. If you have a paperback book in your backpack, it’s no big deal if you accidentally step on it. An e-reader would not fare so well unless you’d purchased an expensive case for it (as I did with my iPhone). Also, as it is an electrical device, I would surely forget to charge it (or replace the battery; I don’t know what’s required). Most of them have wi-fi, meaning I would not be able to take them to work (and I do so enjoy reading during lunch). And most importantly, I wouldn’t read as great a variety of books because I would no longer be able to swap with friends so easily.
- Audiobooks: I am a huge fan of audiobooks (obviously, if you read this blog at all), and I find them absolutely essential to my daily commute. I also consider them the same as having read a book, as long as they’re not abridged.
- Read by the author: This notice on any audiobook makes me leery. It’s often used as a selling point, under the assumption that authors know best what their characters are supposed to sound like and what inflection was meant in their sentences. This is certainly true, but very few authors are any good at voice-acting. Writers who can also read well are a rarity, and in fact Neil Gaiman is the only one that comes to mind. (Stephen King and Amy Tan, for example, are talented writers but poor readers.) Give me a talented narrator over a well-intentioned but monotone author any day.
- Adults reading children’s books: I honestly have been surprised at the often vehemently espoused opinion that adults should not be reading children’s books and that this practice is irritating to other adults. There are plenty of books marketed to children that are quite worth reading as an adult, particularly those geared toward teenagers. With fiction, I’ve noticed that the age of the main character usually dictates its audience, but I’m not sure how being older than a character makes that character’s story somehow unsuitable. Likewise with the assumption that all adult books are somehow inherently superior. Should I be reading some crappy romance novel instead of The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies just because one is marketed to adults and the others are not? This, of course, is ignoring how utterly ridiculous it is to become emotionally involved in other people’s reading preferences in the first place. It’s not like I can have the volume turned up too high when I’m reading silently to myself.
- Fan-fiction: Most of the authors I have encountered who oppose fan-fiction are simply fiercely protective of their inventions. And I can understand that. Those who claim fan-fiction writers are costing them sales simply baffle me. Perhaps someone else can explain it better, but my view on fan-fiction is that the only people reading and writing it are those folks who simply cannot get enough of the source material – which implies they’ve already purchased it. I freely admit that I neither write nor read fan-fiction as a general rule, not because I have any moral issues against it, but rather because there’s so much else out there I want to read. That, and there aren’t any fictional worlds I feel a need to have more of than there already is. If I did, I’d probably just write it myself, for my own enjoyment. If I were a novelist I expect I would be flattered by fan-fiction, though for legal reasons I wouldn’t read any of it. I wouldn’t want anyone accusing me of stealing their ideas about my own characters.
Admittedly, I pulled these topics out of the air because I didn’t have a post scheduled for today. But maybe we can start a conversation.
What do you think?