I didn’t even get two minutes into Radio 4?s report on Ruth Rendell’s latest statement about the state of the nation’s reading habits before wanting to drown myself in my Cabernet.
And not for the reason you’d think.
But for the reason that another literary figure had seen fit to warn us of the dire consequences of neglecting fiction, and the classics, in particular.
I am not buying Baroness Rendell’s argument for a single second. Furthermore, I won’t have a moral panic informing the nation’s reading habits on my watch.
I read fiction. I always have done, and always will.
A scientifically minded young lady of my close acquaintance reads science journals, and is not the slightest bit interested in fiction.
My husband traded in his fiction library card at the age of 8, and has, so far, lived to a grand old age without the slightest detriment to his fertile intellect.
By Baroness Rendell’s reckoning, these two people are feeding into a vast morass, a pandemic of book-shy troglodytes that will never know the joys of Jane Austen. She of course does not take into account that each of us, being marked individuals, add different things to the soup in which we find ourselves. And we’re all the better for it, in my eyes.
As for this panic about none of us reading…..how many e-readers do you think sold over the Christmas period? Lots, is my guess..I’ve never been good with numbers so lets just say lots.
Anyone catching the 8.03 from Chislehurst to Charing Cross, and had been beamed down from Venus would think that we did nothing but read, with our eager faces plunged deep…or as deep as you can into an e-book (not very far, obviously).
And once and for all, are we going to stop judging each other by how many classics we’ve read?
Wuthering Heights is the most godawful book I ever read. And I’ve never made it through a Dickens alive. Yet, I’m a poet, with two books under my belt, with a third…my precious and much wanted third..on the way. I run an arts blog. I review books. I live for books, books, books.
I read diversely by my own choice – not by dictate..and certainly not through fear that I’ll turn into a cabbage if I don’t read Tess of the D’Ubervilles (which I have, by the way).
Why don’t we just let each other get on with our reading, while the other folks worry about us doing it?
About the Author: Claire Meadows
Since September 2012, I have been chief writer and editor for the current affairs and arts blog After Nyne, and now After Nyne Magazine (to launch February 2014).
I became a Huffington Post blogger in November 2012.
I am the author of two published poetry books Gold After, and Brittle Fires for Tempest Press's Virgo Rising imprint.
From September 2012 to February 2013, I was Founding Director of Tempest Public Relations, working with a range of clients including Irish American writer Micheal O Coinn, whose debut poetry pamphlet, Five Words, was published by my publishing house Tempest Press, and Callie Carling, author of breast cancer memoir Callie's Story, also published by Tempest Press.
I also acted as the official UK PR consultant to the US based Free Sara Kruzan campaign's Day of Action in London in 2012.
Before this, I was founding director of artist's agency Liquid Gallery - parent company of the Liquid Art Fair Battersea, and Nyne Magazine.
Outside of work, I have a keen film historian, with a particular interest in films from the 1930s to the 1960s. I am a voracious and omnivorous reader, and enjoy cooking, and country pubs with my husband and dog, Willow.