Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Sunday Salon -- So Reading is Subjective After All

I've had a bit of a busy week but nothing can keep me from popping on the blogs a time or two (okay so plenty can but anyway) and I've enjoyed some of the discussions about the reminder that reading is a very subjective experience.

It's funny because while we sort of know this, I don't think we really go around living with the weight of it all the time. After all, we ARE authorities on what we like individually and sometimes we forget that's pretty much where it ends. Prizes and awards are generally a best effort to bring what we like together to some sort of consensus, but you see how much they are debated. It's an effort and the best we can do, but not perfect.

Anyway, it's an important thing to keep in mind when issues of book banning come up because while a book may have made one person think or feel things they wish they hadn't, you simply can't know what it will do for others. This is so very hard when a book addresses an issue we have strong feelings about,and yes books are extremely dangerous but we must remember that we are not omniscient and we can't know or predict what reactions will be to certain books.*

I love the way Sara Zarr phrased it when talking about judging for the National Book Awards, "The judging process reminded me what a mysterious, personal transaction reading is." It is exactly that, mysterious and different for everyone.

For a great reminder of how two people who really like each other and respect one another's opinion can feel differently about a book, check out Adele's thoughtful reaction to Lenore's less than positive review of Jellicoe Road.

Have you had any reminders lately on how reading is subjective? How do you feel when someone you love doesn't love a book you love?

*This is not regarding the recent controversy over a book available on Amazon this past week. I'm still not sure how I feel about that issue.


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