Thursday, April 3, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - Lit-Ra-Chur

I've discovered a fantastic blog called Booking Through Thursday, and am participating in the "meme"* for the first time. Here's the question:

· When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
· Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?

And my response:

When I hear the term "literature" I immediately interpret that to mean a book in which the way language is used has more importance than the story itself.

Although I enjoy a beautifully constructed sentence and the poetry of language, I've found I can't always sustain interest for an entire novel unless the story is compelling.

Thankfully, I've realised there are plenty of absolute gems that meet both criteria, like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The Patron Saint of Eels by Gregory Day etc.

For me, "literature" also represents the classics. My criteria for reading and enjoying the classics is the same as with contemporary literature or pop fiction: if it's a good story and well written, I'll enjoy it.

In the last few years, I've re-read some of those classics that were compulsory reading in school - e.g. To Kill A Mocking Bird and Animal Farm - as well reading works by Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Maya Angelou etc for the first time. Not surprisingly, I got more out of them as an adult.

So yes, I read literature for pleasure, but I'm pretty picky about what I tackle (and tend to rely on reviews or recommendations to guide my choices).

*For those like me unfamiliar with the concept of meme, here's a definition (thanks to Booking Through Thursday):

Memememe n (mëm): A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. From the Greek mimëma, something imitated, from mimeisthai, to imitate


kat said...

Welcome to BTT! :D

I agree with your definition of classics. And now that you mention it, I did notice that these "classics" gives a huge importance on the language and how it's used a little more than the story. Hmm, must be one of the reasons why I don't like many classics much. :D

Maree said...

Classic or not, I'm all for the story. :)

Marianne Arkins said...

YES! You've defined it exactly... well done.

Have you read "I Am The Messenger" by Zusak? Fantasic book!

Happy BTT.

gautami tripathy said...

I consider Atwood a great writer! Have you read her?

Here is my BTT post!

joanna said...

Life of Pi is one of my favorites - I've lost count of how many people I've had to convince to keep reading till they reading till they get past the philosophy/religion part! ;-)

Isabel Allende is also a great writer, with House of the Spirits as my favorite of her books.

Chris said...

Loved Life of Pi! That was entertaining as well as well written.

Paula Weston said...

Wow, thanks for the responses so far!

Ikve read all of Zusak's books, and after The Book Thief, I Am The Messager is my next favourite of his. Great twist at the end.

I haven't read Margaret Atwood, but I did read a few pages of Gilead a few years back and am keen to get back to it.

I have had Isabel Allende's Paula on my shelf for a few years, and it's made it to the pile of "next books to read", so hopefully I can blog on that in coming weeks. (I'll add House of Spirits to the list!)

BooksPlease said...

Margaret Atwood is a favourite of mine too. the classics we read at school included Dickens and Jane Austen - I like both authors' books much better now than I did at school. I'm picky too - I used to think I had to finish a book once I started but now if I'm not enjoying it I don't bother - there are so many books to read!

Nithin said...

You've given an excellent definition to literature. I myself usually think of classics when I hear "literature". I always prefer a book with a compelling story that is easy to read. Because it takes some getting used to with the style of literary works, I usually read modern novels that may not necessarily be labeled as literature.