A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a work colleague during her smoke break and she asked me what do I like to do in my spare time. I was a bit taken aback, but I said I liked reading books, listening to music, spending time with my family, and so on. She was clearly not impressed with my answer (apparently my hobbies were not special), but proceeded to ask me:”What kind of books do you read?”
“Well, I like adventure, action, fantasy, I like to be entertained, to have that feeling of not wanting to put a book down because it’s that interesting.”
“Aha. Ok” she said, with a disapproving look, and suddenly I felt the stamp of “boring” or “childish” imprinted on my forehead. I say this because 5 minutes earlier she was discussing philosophy books with another colleague.
For about 2 minutes I felt bad. I was starting to doubt myself and to think “wow, I should have said Dostoevsky or at least business books, now she thinks I’m stupid”, but then I gave myself a mental slap and realized that I care too much about what people think.
But that got me thinking: can someone classify books as good or bad to read? I don’t mean in a “it’s wonderfully written / it’s so bad I can’t finish it”, I mean it as a means of mass classification. Some might say, for example, designer clothes are the best clothes because they are made with quality materials and they have the stamp of approval of media and fashion people, so they must be good.
Is it the same with books? Are classics and prize-winning books the only ones worthy of reading?
I think not. I think books were made to entertain, to make you think, to make you daydream, to imagine the world described in words and paragraphs. They are the escape route when you need to relax, to think about something other than work, bills and so on. Or they can just be an activity you enjoying doing.
Nobody should feel ashamed of what they’re reading. Even if it’s Fifty Shades of Grey, a Young Adult novel, or spiritual books. I believe that any book can change you. It can help you grow, even if it’s just an information you learned or a sense of peace you got whilst reading. Or just a way of forgetting life’s dramas and dilemmas.
As long as you are trying to do something different. As long as you’re using your imagination, developing your vocabulary and your knowledge, and you’re escaping daily life, then any book is worth reading.
P.S. If you want to see what’s in my TBR, here’s my summer 2018 TBR