19 September, 2021

LitStaff Picks: The Books We Are Most Passionate About

The Genre I Hearthttps://i1.wp.com/img.sparknotes.com/content/sparklife/sparktalk/fantasyisbetterthanscifi_LargeWide.jpg?resize=301%2C169
Various

I find that I am less passionate about specific books than I am passionate about genres.  That is, I am much quicker to jump and defend fantasy and science fiction from detractors (those who feel books like that aren’t “legitimate” literature) than I am to scoff at someone who just wasn’t thrilled with, say “Ender’s Game” — one of my absolute favorites.

I find that the disdain leveled against certain kinds of books is what really brings out the tigress in me.  I snap, I growl, and goodness do I get snarky.  Just because a book doesn’t appeal to you, personally, doesn’t mean it has no merit or value.  And just because a genre — fantasy, sci-fi, horror, romance — doesn’t float your boat, doesn’t mean that others aren’t sailing away completely slap-happy with their chosen read.

A few days ago I found myself vehemently defending, of all things, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline to a dismissive book club.  “Not adult enough.  No moral, no point. Not complex enough, not enough descriptions, what did everyone look like? Was it a dream, an imaginary world in Coraline’s head?  What did the Other Mother mean.”

I was furious, in a very real way.  The main complaint was the unreality, the unbelievability.  They were convinced the book had to have a message, or be an allegory — the steadfastly refused to say “it’s fantasy, so we’ll accept that this is all supposed to happen and move forward.”  I was beside myself!  We’re talking about a Hugo and Nebula-award winning novella, so well-received it won ADULT fiction awards, not just young reader prizes (although it won those too).  Those credentials didn’t matter in the least to the club: what mattered was it wasn’t real, so it didn’t mean enough.  It didn’t mean anything.

Stories, even the realistic ones, are still only stories.  Fictions.  Make-believe.  Think how expanded the minds of these folks might be if they could just see that the degrees of unreality don’t make for better or worse literature:  they just make the stories different.  And thankfully so.  I’ll take my unrealistic, unbelievable, but incredibly complex, creative, and fascinating fantasy stories over the alternative any day.

-Kira Apple

1 thought on “LitStaff Picks: The Books We Are Most Passionate About

  1. I am an author in the process of upgrading my website with WordPress. I would like permission to use one of your “Books are Magic” images on my site. I could provide credit for the artist on the site itself.

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