Why the Reading Snobbery:Writer’s Quote Wednesday

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In debates about the value of reading and books I have often had discussions, even arguments about the subject of the choice of reading matter. The argument against me runs something like this

Some books have more value than others.

Some writing is superior to others.
Classics are better than pot boilers.
Books are better than comics.
If one is going to read it should be a worthy book.

These are not discussions about those books which incite hatred or evil deeds. Nor about those text books which knowingly feed the reader false or even dangerous information. And books which come under censorship is a whole different discussion. These are discussions about reading for pleasure,for escapism.

Now there are many books I dislike, wouldn’t give house room to or do nothing for me. This is not because they are bad books but because I personally don’t care for them.

S0, why is it considered ‘good’ reading to tuck oneself up with a classic but people are made to feel slightly apologetic to do the same with a bodice ripper romance.

Why should one genre be deemed superior to another.

Why the reading snobbery?

It is good to read – in my opinion. The skill of reading enables people to navigate this literate world more easily.

It is good to read for escapism or pleasure if one wishes too. The written word can open up horizons, show alternative worlds and lifestyle. Can inform and entertain. One need never be alone if one can read. However, it is the act of reading which is good.

I am not renowned for my fashion sense, never have been – well maybe I tried back in the 60s! I dress in whatever I feel comfortable with. I extend that to life in general and so tend to read whatever I feel comfortable with, I do have a fairly catholic taste so it’s a  very  wide comfort net – occasionally I will embark on a reading challenge that leads me away from that comfort, just to ‘challenge’ me, or in the book groups I belong to I will be required to read books that I don’t normally read, and have discovered new authors and genres to add to my preferences.But this is me, I’m a bookworm an addict if you like. Others like my sister has a genre or two  at most which they feel most comfortable with, that is her.  we both gain immense enjoyment  from our different tastes.

I have read so many different types and styles of books since I first spelt out words on a Cornflake packet. Many are forgotten but more have enriched my life in some way or other.

When children learn to read the sense of magic is all around, squiggles on paper have meanings.

Adults can guide and encourage of course; but if the children are comfortable pouring over a comic what is wrong? the words are there, they are enjoying and learning at the same time.

If as they grow older they only want spies or romance, what is wrong?
If they only want erudite and mostly incomprehensible tombs (to many of us anyway) what is wrong?
Why should any of us have to read what we dislike. Schools and colleges are a different matter sometimes if we wish to learn we need to read away from our blanky:)

We should not judge others by what we read, we should applaud the fact that we can read, have access to a wider world, have a chance to live out our hopes, dreams, terrors and fears within the safety of those pages.

Each to their own.

sam johnson

This quote is part of Silver Threading’s  Writer’s Quote series. Writer’s who have helped inspire my writing.

To write one must engage with the world around. Imagination is not the everything, imagination needs feeding with experience and observation. Life is what feeds writers.

 

 

A Committee’s Sublime Creation?

wordsThis is a blog about words, the English language. I may at times, such as here, annoy or offend, this is not my purpose and I apologize if I do so.

All my childhood I dipped in and out of the bible. Attending a Church of England primary school and then a Roman Catholic secondary school, throwing in Sunday school as well, it was a given that I was going to end up knowing huge quantities of those books. Back then the version most commonly used in the Church of England was the King James version. The Douay in the Roman Catholic school. I found the slightly archaic language of the King James with its rhythms and cadences exhilarating, exciting and beautiful. If I didn’t understand, and of course such old English can be difficult at times

a) there was always someone who could further translate and elucidate and
b) the sound of the words could envelop and stir the senses as can music . Knowledge is not always necessary.

I am not sure why people like to produce versions of plain English bible why the richness and beauty and sheer grandeur is considered so bad, as a child I didn’t understand it all but over time I did. Language is after all one of the glories of humanity. Anyway I am in no position to judge because of a whole childhood of religion and years of traveling to other cultures and nations I have ended up with no religion at all. I also have not read all the other newer versions. It is, I believe, a question of personal taste.

I do still think the King James Bible is one of the ‘great classics’ of the English language

King James was the ‘authorised bible’ it was written in the 1600s, not by any one individual but by ‘committee!’ who would have thought a committee could create something so sublime:) under James 1 instruction; with the requirement to ‘to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principall good one’

The’ good one’ was the Bishops’ Bible of 1568(1602 edition), and the many included, other earlier versions such as Tyndale’s 1530, Wycliffe’s 1388, the Geneva 1560 and the Douay-Rheims 1582-1609, there were many others. The bible after centuries of being a closed book known only to Latin speakers had been translated into the common tongue many times over the centuries before. So not all the language originated from that team of worthy men. Working on the principle if it was good keep it, tweak if it needed, create when all else failed they pulled together a wonderful celebration of words. Words which inspired poets, politicians, singers, authors, ad men and newspaper magnets as well bringing the ‘Word’ to ordinary people who found them equally inspiring.

Our language now is richly seamed with expressions from this bible, even those who like me have no faith and those who worship in another faith system. Many do not even know they quote from the Bible, or play around with the words in adverts and headlines that originate from the book.

Many make extravagant claims for the authorised version, I am not keen on extravagance! However I do agree The King James Bible has influenced our language a great deal. Not the nuts and bolts such as grammar and spelling but in the idiomatic sense, in the concepts a phrase can conjure up. When written works,songs, adverts and headlines can be titled by expressions or words from a book written 400 years ago then I think it is fairly safe a statement to make.

Up here in cyberspace I have come across those with an everyday knowledge of the bible – not necessarily my King James version and those who have a disconnect between the expressions they use and the origins of those expressions. It is a shame in a way but also a sign that the words and expressions have as with so much of our language grown their own wings and flown.

I want to pull up a few of the most common words and expressions over the next few weeks, with their original and their modern versions and uses. It’s just an excuse for me to re-visit a book I enjoy so much:) To try maybe to explain in modern style usage why their appeal has lasted so long.

Typewriter ribbon: Writer’s Quote Wednesday

 

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My earliest memory of typewriters goes way back to before I can remember! Dad had one. Until my teens he was the only man I knew who did possess one at home. It was mainly men back then.

He set up his desk in the living room and each evening he typed. During the day he worked in a bank but at home he was a writer. Which I thought very exotic and exciting, if a trifle inconvenient when I wanted his attention. For help with homework we booked a time and then he was all ours:)

He tried his hand at novel writing but it wasn’t to be, what he made extra money, and his reputation, on were articles. Articles on banking, law and good English. He wrote for in-house journals and for The Plain English Society. He also had a stint in the 60s and 70s at writing for The Times about the industrial film industry. When he was established he produced two law books which needed updating every few years.

After age had crept up on him, and he suffered some TIAs, he found the burden of typing hard on his hands and, as I had treated myself to one of the early home computers, I taught him as I learnt, he took to it like a whole pond full of ducks.

Cut and Paste was the miracle of his declining days. He delivered his last updated copy of his books the day before he suffered the stroke which killed him two weeks later. The keyboard had been his friend for ever.

The typewriter ribbons were kept and used in the garden all through my lifetime. To mark out new lawns, to scare birds away from seeds and fruit.

The black and red tape fluttering all around, the muttered curses when he struggled to change them, the clack of keys in the evening, all punctuated my childhood. His pleasure in the computer keyboard which kept him writing my delight.

type ribbon

This quote is part of Silver Threading’s  Writer’s Quote series. Writer’s who have helped inspire my writing.

To write one must engage with the world around. Imagination is not the everything, imagination needs feeding with experience and observation. Life is what feeds writers.