With a little help from the kind folks that comment here I’m going to try and outline my thoughts on the wrong sort of books. Don’t think there are wrong sorts of books? Wonder how a grown man that reads Superman books can claim a literary high ground? Read on.
Previously, discussing my reading anxiety over reading the wrong sort of books, I outlined my ideas on the right sort of books.
Each one tells us a little bit more about how to be a good human and, surprisingly, isn’t afraid to make you laugh at some point in the process (although, on reflection, this is realized to be a necessary part of some process). “Important” books, might be a good standard label, or rule of thumb. The ones that feel like they mean something.
Never one to be too afraid of abhorrent subjectiveness (only slightly worried) a feeling of meaning something works very well for me. But what about the wrong sort of books?
Brad wonders: Is a book that strives purely for entertainment the wrong sort? And what about purported classics like The Great Gatsby? “The characters are all despicable, murder is covered up, and the innocent allowed to be slandered and slain. Yuck. ” And Clemens offers up his thoughts:
The only books not worth reading are the ones you regret every second you spent with it in your hands. And there are very few of those if you think about it
Good advice and somewhat close, I think, to my rule of thumb. But what kind of books are you going to regret reading? Beware, metaphysics ahead.
The wrong sort of book does nothing to prepare you for remembering your death. It does nothing to awaken you to human vanity. Oh, the wrong sort of book may attempt to do this but usually it’s dreadfully dull. The right sort of book does this by making you laugh at least once, laughter being a sort of key, for me at least, that cheerfully unlocks the dreadful cabinet we sit ourselves in. Laughter is important when talking about vanity. So sorry, Camus, you’ve written the wrong sort of book. Nice try, don’t be a stranger.
The wrong sort of book leads you on. It promises something and delivers hours gone, dissatisfaction, emptiness and overall bleaughy feelings. More good advice from a friend of S.O.S.:
… if she’s reading a book and she isn’t completely drawn in by a certain place (I forget whether it was within the first few chapters or first few pages), she puts the book down and moves on. She’s realized she has a finite amount of time and wants to read the books that draw her in, whether “classics” or contemporary.
I haven’t really accomplished anything here, have I? This is more about recognizing the right book for you. Parting thoughts: embrace subjectivity when it comes to reading and trust your reading conscience.