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Today in My History

2000:  "Learn to Live With It"
2001:  No entry--in England
2002:  The Perfect Squelch
2003:  The Wrath of God
2004:  Anyone for Moose Drool?
2005:  Homeland Security
2006:  Prayers

2007: Tea and Sympathy
2008:  Yawwwn
2009:  Ouch
2010:  The Yuck List
2011:  Being a Mother

Bitter Hack
Updated: 4/30
"The Meaning of It All"
"Little Shop of Horrors"

Books Read in 2012
 Updated: 5/5
"Stone Cold"

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Santa Barbara, April 2012

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9 May 2012

I saw the abbreviation on his list of books.  In place of the name of the book "CF" had been written.  "What's 'CF'," I asked.   "Oh," he replied.  "That's contemporary fiction.  I don't bother about contemporary fiction," he said, with a dismissive wave of his hand, which seemed to indicate that modern fiction wasn't worth his time.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend once when I was put down but good.  I asked her if she had read some fiction book that was popular at the time, which I thought would appeal to her.  She sniffed in disdain.  "I never read fiction," she said, indicating that any fiction was a waste of her time.

I have to admit that the book I mentioned was more popular fiction, but I thought of what not reading any fiction ruled out.  Steinbeck!   Hemmingway!  Oscar Wilde!  Dickens!  Shakespeare, for Pete's sake.   NO fiction?  NO fiction was worth reading? In fact, I made some sort of an astonished comment, since she was an intelligent person and I couldn't believe she would dismiss an entire genre of the printed word as not worth reading.

I recently read a long discussion thread where the worthiness of reading fiction was debated, many people hotly asserting that the purpose of reading was to learn something and what could you learn from fiction?

It reminded me of many discussions I have read over the years by people who guiltily admit that yes, they do watch a little television -- but only PBS ('cause that makes it all right).

The problem with these noble stands against specific types of books or against anything that doesn't have the stamp of PBS on it is to essentially say "I am better than you are because my tastes are loftier."


Now, I admit to being a TV junkie and I will watch anything that comes down the pike, if it holds my interest, so I am about as far from an "elitist" as you can get.  But television is not a vast wasteland of junk unless it is broadcast on PBS.  Yeah, sure there is a lot of junk out there, but the discerning viewer might check out some of the programs on HBO or Showtime....or if they don't want to pay for cable, there have been some darn good series and specials on regular TV.  How about The West Wing or The Dick Van Dyke Show (for comedy), Northern Exposure, and a host of other shows. 

People who like to be entertained should not be made to feel "less than" because their choices don't measure up to the lofty criteria of those who sniff disdainfully at anything not produced by PBS.

Same goes for books.  My God, we should be glad that people are reading.   I sometimes read to learn things (books like Rachel Maddow's "Drift" will have you tearing your hair), but I also like to read CF books...I'll even SAY it...I enjoy CURRENT FICTION.  Does that mean I like all current fiction?  Of course not.  I have read books I'm embarrassed to have read, I have stopped reading books that were so badly written it was appalling.  But I also like me my "blood and gore" books, as long as the books are well written.

And I like classic fiction like Steinbeck and Hemmingway and Dickens and all those guys who would probably meet the approval of someone who doesn't bother with CF.

I also like non-fiction books, beieve it or not.  I mean I'm the lady who knows about the history of the Akubra hat and why Einstein's brain was driven across the country 40 years after his death, remember.

The point is that there are books and book genres for everyone's tastes and rather than being dismissive or making someone feel "less than" because their whole reading experience is not one non-fiction book after another. 

Ironically, as I was writing this, I received a note from a friend who has been going through some difficult times.  She writes, "I am reading a lot. I like running away into someone else's life in books. Been hanging around with Langston Hughes' works lately. I'm on the third book, but have been reading some other Harlem Renaissance stuff."

Books educate us, entertain us, comfort us, delight us, make us laugh, make us cry, make us angry and evoke a whole scope of emotions.  To my way of thinking, there is no "wrong" book or inferior kind of book.  As with many other things, no one size fits all in the literary world.  It's what works for you.   What grabs your interest at a particular time.  There is no wrong book to read and no wrong way to read a book. Those who would make someone feel "less than" for enjoying fiction should be ashamed of themselves.


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At Bri's birthday party


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