Every so often a novel comes along and completely blows you away! It is often unexpected and sometimes even with a book you had put off reading. This happened with one particular read for me and opened me up to a whole new genre……………. Literary. There are lots of articles and statistics regarding what people read and if there are changes in trends. The most recent one I have seen was regarding Literary novels and their slight decline in popularity. I can’t speak for the UK in general but I can speak for my experience so here goes!
It starts for me way back in the days of GCSE English class. I loved the Shakespeare and reading. But I failed miserably at most of the other literature and not surprisingly grammar skills too. It resulted in a failed GCSE and a lifetime complex! From then on until 2014 I would avoid any novels I considered ‘too clever’ for me. I resided myself to except that I was ‘thick’ and something’s I would just never get………That was until.
Lying in bed in 2014 in chronic pain with a spinal injury. I was devouring books daily and my poor suffering husband would come back from Waterstones with bags of novels! He is not a reader and would ask the staff to help him choose. One day he came home with Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. I was well aware of the novel and it’s huge success but it was on the list I would deem ‘too clever’ for me.
I decided to give it a try. Then something very unexpected happened, I got it! Not only did I get it, I bloody loved it! I cannot explain my love for that trilogy enough. I read all 3 novels in a weekend and had an horrendous book hangover. I literally mourned it ending! It is also the reason I have a 3 second answer to the often asked reader question which book character would you date? Leo Demidov without a shadow of a doubt! Before I pack up my bags and head off to communist Russia, let me explain what it changed.
Whilst suffering with my book hangover and book grief. I suddenly realised maybe all was not lost for me. Maybe just maybe no book is ‘too clever’ and I should give more of this genre a try. Well I had an epic journey of new novels to discover! The Book Of Night Women by Marlon James, A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale and even the modern classic The Last Exit To Brooklyn by Hubery Selby Jr. I am now at the point where I often buy several of the longlisted novels when the lists are revealed. More importantly I no longer fear that any book is ‘too clever’ and I read more books than ever before.
I often wonder if other people have experienced this, with any genre? Especially given that many people my age (33) experienced bad/unhelpful schooling. I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts/opinions on this. So feel free to comment or email me!
I would urge anyone with the ‘too clever’ fear to bite the bullet and buy a novel that challenges you, it may just change you!
*I am aware Child 44 could come under crime/historical genre. But I regard it as literature and with how it lifted my fears and self-loathing. It is one novel I will never ever forget!