15.3.08

10,000 novels and counting

I read this (þ: Literary Saloon) and wondered the same as Mr. Henderson -- are there really that many novels worth reading?

It depends on your definition of "worth", doesn't it? If you are a true biblioholic, it's a compulsion, so worth becomes meaningless. You just read. Full stop. And there are novels that are more interesting than others, or more meaningful than others, but that doesn't matter: you need to read.

While I may be a biblioholic, I'm not confined to novels (although neither are the gentlemen of whom Henderson writes). Thanks to my job, I read a lot of YA Lit -- do those qualify as novels (TTYL, I'm talking to you!)? Novels are supposed to be more "highbrow" than genre fiction, so Ink Exchange (the last book off Mt. Bookpile) doesn't qualify. Ditto Death of a Dormouse.

Still, this comment from Literary Saloon
Obviously any judgment depends very much on the novels -- five Tolstoys (and equivalents) a week is one thing, five of the novels Hensher was presumably reading when he was five quite another. As to whether life's too short for this sort of commitment ... surely that also depends on what the alternatives are. But if we make our way through less than five novels in a given week we feel we've missed something .....
sums it up. Except I'd edit it to "if we make our way through less than five books in a given week...". Wouldn't you?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd count YA books as novels, they may not be "literary" but there's some great stories told in YA fic. But then I count almost anything as reading.

Shree

camillofan said...

I thought any full-length (I know that's imprecise) fiction book was a novel. So Barbara Cartland wrote them, Dostoyevsky wrote them, Agatha Christie wrote them, Anita Brookner writes them. And J.K. Rowling and Isaac Asimov and K.M. Peyton...

Am I too generous?

Lazygal said...

I think that many people count novels as "highbrow literary writing" rather than genre fiction (including chick lit, which puts Austen in an awkward position). Me? I'd include anything that isn't graphic novel/comic book or list/trivia book (eg, something with a narrative plot that's mostly in words, not pictures), but in that NEA study that said we're not reading, they meant the more snooty definition.

camillofan said...

I say "literary novel" sometimes. Or "literary fiction," almost like it's a genre. But some detective fiction is fairly literary, as is some sci-fi (the two genres I'm most qualified to comment on), so it doesn't work as a partitioning kind of label.

Would the NEA say that a person who read Ray Bradbury and Dorothy Sayers was or was not getting his dose of novels?

Lazygal said...

Cam, they'd say "was not". Which is sad, really. Great Literature isn't the only thing one should be reading. They also discount newspapers and magazines to get to their very scary "No One Reads Anymore" headlines.