Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Weekly Poll 2/24/10: Reader Type

During the last week, I had a poll question posted:

What type of reader are you?

  1. Literary
  2. "Pop culture"
  3. Nonfiction

Last Wednesday, I defined these reader types in a short post; here they are again:

  • Literary readers prefer what could be labeled as classics or what is meant to be broken apart and discussed with questions like "What does this mean?" (e.g., Jane Austen, Jack Kerouac, Nathanial Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway)
  • "Pop culture" readers prefer the books that make the New York Times Bestsellers List or the books most talked about in the moment (e.g., John Grisham, Stephen King, Marian Keyes, Stephenie Meyer, J.K. Rowling)
  • Nonfiction readers prefer just that--nonfiction (e.g., biographies, autobiographies, historical works, essays)
All the voters who responded labeled themselves as the second group: "pop culture" readers.  I firmly put myself into that category as well (in case you couldn't tell by the types of books/authors I blog about).

One reason I was inspired to ask is that question is that I work in an English Department, where I am surrounded by literary readers.  Every day, I am bombarded (okay, maybe I'm exaggerating by using that word) by literary references that, quite frankly, I just don't get.  It's interesting that for some people, to be a serious reader, you need to be a "literary" reader.  I was speaking with one colleague, who, after finding out that I love to read, started talking about authors whose books I'd never read before.  When I admitted that I had never read authors like Kerouac and Faulkner (though I am familiar with their works, I've never actually read them), I got a strange look that could only translate into words as, "Whaaaa?!"

I used to be embarrassed with my reading repertoire and so tried to supplement my reading lists with classic works . . . but found that they bored me--or just didn't interest me.  In fact, the only "literary" works I enjoyed reading and studying were Shakespeare's works.  It has taken me years, but I can finally say that I wholly embrace who I am as a reader.  I may never read my way through the books listed in The Book of Great Books, but I can happily say that I will enjoy every book I take the time to read.  So bring on the King and Grisham and Keyes!

Do any of you have a similar story?  Have any of you ever felt judged based on the types of books you enjoy reading?

Happy reading, whether you enjoy reading books from the "Best of All Times" list or from the "New York Times" list!

1 comment:

Annette Lyon said...

As an English major, I read a ton of literary work, and while I still love some of it (Austen and Dickens, among others), I also love me lots of pop culture fiction as well.

Trust me--Faulkner was a self-indulgent idiot. You aren't missing anything there. (I did an entire post about why I hate the guy . . .)

My dad's a retired linguistics professor, so I grew up with dinner table talk about etymologies and whatnot. (I thought this was normal.) The language end always interested me, and those classes were my favorite of my major.

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