If you were to recommend some music or a film, for example, to someone without a clue, would you recommend The Vengaboys or Saw 4? In a sane world I am guessing no, you’d pick something interesting and nuanced, a real giant in the field, in short one of the best.
(Before I go on, please don’t think i’m a literary snob, i’m not, I enjoy my fair share of poorly written stuff (Leo Kessler, Guy N Smith, etc) and light reads (Stephen King, M.C Beaton, et al) like anyone else, I just find it exasperating that people don’t read the magnificent gems of books that are out there and which are too many to mention in this post. Having said all that, this may seem like a rant anyway.)
Last years WBN was interesting in many ways, but more than a year on, i’m still left wondering who these nights are actually aimed at? The WBN official site says ‘World Book Night is a charity dedicated to the promotion of literacy and the celebration, sharing and enjoyment of reading amongst teenagers and adults’. So far so good, then ‘givers share the joy and love of reading with millions of non or light readers’.
So fair enough, let’s get these non readers into the wonderful world of books, but what of the people already reading light fiction? The books pictured (from last years list) are mainly commercial fiction and are light reads. Apart from some wonderful modern classics (Love in the Time of Cholera, All Quiet on the Western Front), i’m hard pushed to note anything of excellence, that I would have recommended to our novice from paragraph one, or indeed that pushes the reader of fiction to explore other more challenging books.
I watched the BBC programmes and sure, they have to tread a fine line and get the ratings up, but where is the sense in doing a programme celebrating the three most popular genres (thriller, crime and romance), when that’s the core market anyway. Any non reader is likely to gravitate to these genres or be encouraged by a reader of bestsellers to start there anyways. So why not put in a programme with a bunch of famous people explaining why the classics and modern classics are awesome and people should give them a whirl if they want well rounded characters who aren’t just there to react to the latest plot twist. And not just something to be associated with work bacause they read similar books at school.
So to this years book list (see previous post), admittedly, it seems a bit more varied genre wise. The Stand Out books for me being The Remains of the Day and A Tale of Two Cities and I may even get around to reading The Road before next years list comes out as well. Sadly the BBC aren’t doing anything (that I can see in the TV Times) but never the less I predict a good reading year on this blog, see what I did there? (Like the BBC I claim not to advertise (but do anyway). (I have nothing against the BBC.)).