On Reading: The Pleasures of Reading

Every day and throughout the year, I spend a substantial amount of my time reading about reading. From scholarly articles to academic books to chronicles of reading and reading memoirs. I am going to post a series of short observations on the books (and the occasional articles) that I have been reading particularly reflecting on the presence (or lack thereof) of romance fiction, and on how I feel my perceptions of reading aline with the authors.

The Pleasures of Reading

The Pleasures of Reading

The Pleasures of Reading: A Booklover’s Alphabet by Catherine Sheldrick Ross

published by Libraries Unlimited, 2014

So far the books I have discussed I found by browsing the library shelves at my university, whereas Catherine Sheldrick Ross’s The Pleasures of Reading led me to them.

 

Catherine Sheldrick Ross is one of “my tribe”. She is a librarian scholar and researcher of readerly people at Western University, Ontario, Canada (well actually, she is a professor emeritus of library and information  science). I first came across Ross upon reading her paper “Reader on Top: Public Libraries, Pleasure Reading and Models of Reading”. Ross, in her paper discusses the child series reader, the romance reader, pleasure reading, reading as a ladder and what I found particularly striking, is the anxiety that librarians feel in promoting reading that is not considered by literary standards to be “the best”. Continue reading

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Fandoms, librarians and readers

I’m talking about fanfiction, fandoms and fanart on the 13th of June on 702ABC with Linda Mottram from 10:30ish am.

 

As many listeners know, I somehow manage to mention fanfiction every time I am on 702Sydney. it is such a huge area of readership that I can’t help but include it in any discussion around fiction. Seeing this month is Fanreads over at ReadWatchPlay I thought this would be a good talking point for the show.
Whenever someone asks me explain to them what “fanfiction is” my favourite analogy is to describe it as a retelling of a story in which you take someone else’s characters and write a story about them. So, any retelling of an original story is fanfiction. Any new authoring of Homer’s Illiad is fanfiction as are Arthurian tales. Novels such as P. D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley is a future fanfic of Pride and Prejudice and Shakespeare is swimming in the fanfic pool. In a nutshell, fanfiction are stories of fictional characters that are written by fans and not the original creator. They are derivative works. There are the occasional exceptions like J K Rowling writing fanfics of Quidditch matches over at Pottermore. For a famous authors writing fanfic this Daily Dot article gives you a fair coverage. Of course, the whole fanfic thing also comes from fans of TV shows and movies wanting more of their favourite characters. I just adore this. I love that people are so invested and in love with their TV characters that they seek out stories about them.

 

There's a storm coming/ fanart posted with permission/ Dumblyd0re at http://dumblyd0re.deviantart.com/art/There-s-a-storm-coming-315866735

There’s a storm coming fanart posted with permission from Dumblyd0re http://dumblyd0re.deviantart.com/art/There-s-a-storm-coming-315866735

As a librarian and fan of reading (hehe – did you see what I did there), I happily endorse fanfiction reading to my borrowers and anyone that asks. Actually, in the whole readers’ advisory process, I think that librarians need to look outside of our published book centered recommendations and we should be recommending reading choices in non-profit areas of reading/writing too. I have heard people use the “quality” writing argument here. How, as librarians, could we endorse a story that is not of a high literary quality? My answer is that this is EASY. Reading appeals is NOT about quality reading. It is about engaged, pleasurable reading. As a reader, I have given up on many well written stories that lacked the heart and soul that I seek out when I am reading yet I have found wonderful stories in fanfiction that have sparked my interest or they have challenged me to look at a certain story in a different way. As a reader, I am not stupid. If a story is completely unreadable, the pace, the diction or the writing is completely out of place – I will move on. Just as I have sent may a book to my DNF pile, I have sent many fanfiction stories to that pile too. Of course, there are times that I prefer my commercial fiction as someone else has had to deal with the slush pile (thanks publishers) but if I am looking for an extension of characters who I love and want to see how someone else imagines them, I can’t go past fanfics. Reading fanfic is a bit risky.

A teen I was speaking to last week said he hated it because he was reading this wonderful Harry Potter’s twin fanfic, he was loving the story and then he discovered that the writer quit the story. Just like that. No warning. Just a message saying “Thanks but I won’t be continuing”. This teen was a tad bitter (this amused me to no end). Another reader told me they were thrilled because a fave story came back to life after an 18 month hiatus. They received an alert on their phone and they screamed out in joy that the writer had returned 🙂

I find FanArt just as interesting. Fanart is similar to fanfiction but they are fan imaginings of what characters look like or they put they characters into scenes that they would love to see them in. Fanart is similar to fanfiction but they are fan imaginings of what characters look like or they put they characters into scenes that they would love to see them in. I know that there is a lot of comic, anime and manga fanart out there but I was particularly taken by the tweet from Sleepy Hollow (another fab fanfic creation) writers with fanart posted on their walls. Writers don’t ignore fanart. As it doesn’t mess with their head canon (as fanfiction can do) fanart tends to be enjoyed more.

Continue reading