22 August 2011


A lot of years ago I was studying for some English Literature papers.  I had a holiday booked, and then discovered the exams started the day after I came back.  I studied up on all my notes before going on holiday, (yes I was a swot!), and took the books with me to read one last time.  As far as I recall they were:  Macbeth, D.H. Lawrence, T.S. Elliot, and Wordsworth. 
The reaction of other beachgoers, people at adjoining tables in cafés etc. was very interesting, and I lost count of the number of people who asked if that was my usual holiday reading.  Umm, no.  A swot I might have been, but holiday reading, not usually.
Which begs the question what is popular holiday reading now.  Not much different I think.  Updated maybe, but the same themes are there.  Look around most airport bookstores and we see: romance and sex, or murders, bombs and a race against time.  Sometimes all these ingredients packed within one cover.
It often feels as though genre writing is less than literary writing.  That it is looked down on as a poor relation.  From my humble position all I can say is that I’ve read beautiful literary books that sang to me, as well as ones that took a lot of words to say very little.  I’ve read genre books that have kept me up hours after I should have gone to bed, that have tugged at my emotions and remained with me long after I finished the last page, as well as those that were cliché ridden and so badly plotted I couldn’t even finish them, and I hate giving up on a book.

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