24.1.10

Thing Two asks

At the end of his comment here, Thing Two asks:
PS - Apropos of the "not the intended audience" thing. I am interested in the mental gymnastics which older readers mus go through when they read this stuff as part of their job. Is this a learned behaviour which comes with training, professionalism and experience?
Now, he knows that I read many, many books for which I am not the intended audience. So, how do I do it?

Well, part of it is what C.S. Lewis once said:
"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."

"A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest."
(ok, he said two things. sue me.)

Thing is, I do sometimes question what I've read. Is it a bad book, or is it that I'm just too old to appreciate it? Often, as in The Case of Origami Yoda, I can see why younger readers will like it even if it doesn't really excite me. A book like Savvy, on the other hand, can interest both me and teen readers (even though a year or so later, we now remember the interminable bus trip and little else). Sometimes I check my reaction by asking students at MPOW what they think (there's a great group of readers I can led ARCs to when I'm puzzled); it's rare that we have wildly divergent opinions.

Maybe that means that I'm not a good reader. Certainly I'd fail as a reader in the way the English teachers would like for me to read: I don't care about most of the elements that they want students to find and analyze. "Close" reading is beyond me. And maybe that's a good thing given the books I read.

I dunno. What do you think, reading peeps?

3 comments:

Aravis said...

I don't read YA for professional reasons, so perhaps I'm not the target audience of this question. But you asked, LG, and you know I enjoy YA Lit, so here's the thing:

It doesn't take "mental gymnastics" to read it. I'm not required to read it when I'm not in the mood; that would conceivably make a difference. For the most part, however, it isn't much of a chore.

The truth is that I rarely read "age appropriate" books when I was younger; I read Animal Farm when I was 8 and that's how it went. Now I go back and revisit the YA books I did read, or discover what I missed, or come across something new.

I like reading YA. If the plot interests me then I don't care that it's intended for a younger audience. It's relaxing. It's fun. It brings back memories, both those that make me squirm and those that make me smile. I like to let the girl in me out from time to time.

Jandy said...

Like Aravis, I don't read YA (or any fiction) for professional reasons. But I read YA and children's lit for the pleasure. I also read the weightier stuff for pleasure. And sometimes I even remember to read "close", especially if I'm reading for a book club.

One of the best books recommended to me last year was an easy picture book I Ain't Gonna Paint No More. It's one of those that works for my preschool grandchildren as well as older. I was fascinated by it in my own right as I watched the illustrator match the author is ways smaller children won't appreciate.

As C.S. Lewis says, adults can enjoy children's books too.

ms.bri said...

"Maybe that means that I'm not a good reader. Certainly I'd fail as a reader in the way the English teachers would like for me to read: I don't care about most of the elements that they want students to find and analyze. "Close" reading is beyond me. And maybe that's a good thing given the books I read. "

Oh, ditto. I thought I wanted to take lots of English courses in college and quickly discovered that I just don't do theory and felt it was mangling all these really lovely books. Just read it and love it and that is enough. I think those who enjoy the other bit become teachers instead of librarians. Our role is different.