I, like many others, take it as a given that reading is good. From the time I was little, it was hammered into my head that reading makes you a smarter, more articulate and well-rounded individual. I was aghast to find that not everyone shares this assumption.
Some, like Mikita Brottman, argue that “reading turns us into anti-social misanthropes who would do better to be out in the world than home with a book.” This was an argument set forth by Mr. Brottman in “The Solitary Vice: Against Reading.” Mr. Brottman clearly did not grow up with the same parents and teachers I did.
With all due respect to Mr. Brottman, I know a lot of readers and would hardly characterize them as “anti-social misanthropes.” In fact, the readers I know are among the most social of my acquaintances, with plenty of friends. I have yet to meet a reader who is a “misanthrope (someone who dislikes people).” Granted, if a fellow reader didn’t like people or social situations, the likelihood of our paths crossing is minimal. Still, I find it hard to accept the argument that reading is not good for you or turns you into a social outcast of sorts.
So if you start with the premise that reading is good for you, as I do, does that extend to all reading or only certain reading? Is reading Star Magazine somehow less good for you than reading “Summer Reading” by Hilma Wolitzer (which I just finished)? And is “Wuthering Heights” more “good” than “Summer Reading.” And who out there is qualified to judge a book’s “goodness” factor?
While you are pondering these questions, pick up “Sharp Objects“ by Gillian Flynn. One word describes “Sharp Objects.” DISTURBING. But disturbing in a can’t-put-down type of way. Our protagonist is a slightly unbalanced journalist named Camille who works for a paper in Chicago. Two young girls are murdered in Camille’s hometown, and her editor sends her home to report on the story, hoping that her insider status will enable her to obtain all the juicy details. While Camille is home, she uncovers disturbing truths about her past, her family and what really happened to her deceased sister. Excellent! I highly recommend it.
If you are up for a more “enlightening” read, try “. “The Shack” has been on the bestseller list for weeks. The basic premise is as follows: a man, whose daughter is brutally murdered, receives a note from God. God asks him to come to the place where his daughter was murdered. Once there, he meets the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. “The Shack” documents his conversation with the Holy Trilogy. Truth or not? Who knows, but it definitely makes you think.
What’s next for me? “Blindness” by Jose Saramago followed by “Seeing,” also by Jose Saramago.