Friday, 22 October 2010

Has reading so many teen novels turned my brain to mush?

Answer: probably. 

In a good week I can read about three novels. I think this is pretty awesome. I don't think that this is because I'm a particularly fast reader, but more down to the fact that most of the novels I read are either:
a) quite short
b) really really fun to read.

When you are really enjoying what you are reading you will plough through it. And I tend to pick books that I know I will enjoy. 

However, having read so many teen/children's books lately (and I read a lot, mostly down to my job as a children's bookseller and the copious amounts of freebies I get sent), I'm starting to wonder if I have dumbed down my brain and made it impervious to what is commonly known as 'high-brow literature'.

The facts are these:
1. I read Tess of the D'Urbervilles when I was nine and a half. 
2. I have an English Literature degree from Durham University.
3. I work in a bookshop.

From these facts, you might probably think I'm OK when it comes to reading big fat chunks of brick-like novels. There was a time when you may have been right (I vaguely remember reading Jane Eyre in a day at university because I had forgotten that I had to read it and know it intimately for a seminar the following day). 

But it appears that my powers of being able to read proper 'grown-up' novels has left me. I have a seminar on Tuesday where we will be looking at how time can be played with in narrative structure, so I am reading Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I have absolutely no problem in accepting that it is a great work of literature (all the quotes on the outside and inside jacket covers tell me so). I started reading it last Tuesday, thinking: 'I'll do 100 pages a day, should be finished it by the weekend'. This hasn't happened. I am only on page 63 as of 20:36 on Friday night. I am working all weekend, so probably won't get too much reading done then either. This is a 500 page novel. If I've only managed 63 pages in four days, this means that it will take me... well... I can't do the maths but you know what I mean. Essentially my chances of finishing it before the seminar are pretty much nil. 

What I'm finding particularly strange about this Birdsong mess, is that this is a title regularly on English GCSE further reading lists for First World War literature modules. If I've managed to revert my brain back to a teen-like reading mode, then surely I should still be able to get through this book, as it's recommended to most 16 year olds following the national curriculum. 

What the frick has happened to my brain?
Will I manage to complete Birdsong before my seminar on Tuesday?
Will I inadvertently sleep through my day off on Monday and therefore lose any chance I have of finishing the novel on time?

All the answers and more in my next update...

1 comment:

  1. I recently had to complete one of those memes of books you read as a teenager. I am of that generation when there was no such thing as YA and my list looked a bit pretentious - which it was - I mean everyone thought it was cool to read Ayn Rand ... we just pretended to understand it! Young people these days are so lucky to have so much to read. And I'm making up for lost time by reading all the teen books I can get my hands on.