Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Literature" Versus "literature"

I recently walked into a specialty book shop and spotted a copy of Edward Lear's the Owl and the Pussy Cat gracing the shelf. As I excitedly made my purchase, my family gave me a "what's the big deal look" the whole time. As I read the book in the car, (I couldn't even wait until we pulled away from the curb) my son yelled out "this is some junk." I guess he didn't care too much for the lines "What a wonderful Pussy you are, you are, what a wonderful Pussy you are." I on the other had, I was giddy as I read the book. There are other books from childhood that produce the same excitment from me. Those stories are: Corduroy, Seuss's books (especially Green Eggs and Ham and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish), Runaway Bunny (sorry, Monta already mentioned this story, but it is a favorite), and a certain book that I remember loving, but can't remember the title. It featured an animal; I believe it was some type of bird making split pea soup.

In elementary my favorite author was R.L Stine with the Goose Bumps and Fear Street series. I also read a lot of the titles that my blogmates have listed. Around this age, I even crossed into adult books, reading authors such as Dean R Koontz, Tom Clancy, and Danielle Steele (who was probably a little inappropriate for me at that age).

While my blogmates passed around books that have stood the test

of time, I was trading Harlequin Romance novels. I have literally read a thousand of them, since I would sometimes go through 2-3 a day. My cousin and I would lie in bed on opposite sides, then we'd switch books when we were done. In high school, I was exposed to more substantive material: Shakespeare, Madeline L'Engle, and John Steinbeck, to name a few, though out of class I always had a romance novel in hand.

In college I was told by more than one professor that these books were absolute junk, so I became ashamed of my reading habits and started to indulge in more quality "Literature." I have to admit that they were partly right. Once I put down romance novels, I started picking up more quality works. Some of which have become my all time favorites. I read Pride and Prejudice 2-3 times a year, I cry every time I read Withering Heights, and am still intrigued that Lady Chatterley's Lover was scandalous when published and banned for 30 years.

These days, my reading choices vary greatly from Shakespeare to Twilight, and everything in between. My favorite children's book author is Mo Willems. Go Pigeon! But I love horror, romance, and fantasy. And if you can combine the three, you have made a fan of me. My bookshelves are filled with "Literature" with a capitol L, books I have come to love and treasure, but I still have a guilty pleasure. There are several storage bins, hidden away from every day view, filled with romance novels. I've learned that it is okay to read one every now and then, as long as this is done in moderation, and out of sight of condescending educators.



  1. I did a stirring rendition of the Owl and the Pussy Cat at the library the other day and got eye rolls from the parents - plus a couple of snickers. The kids were enchagted.

  2. Funny Robin. My son was like, "Oookay what is a ten pound note.

    I do wonder could the lines cited above be published today.

  3. Isn't Corduroy the best? You have read a lot of Literature. Your harlequin predilection is funny. "Urania" actually sounds like a romantic name for a romance writer! I sort of picture it in dark pink foil against the light pink softcover. Professors shouldn't be so harsh--those people are good at what the write and they make $$, including if they are lucky enough to be adapted to Lifetime movies. I am still interested in the plays you wrote during college.

  4. Out of the hundreds of childrens books I have scammed and schemed for, the Owl and the Pussy Cat is the best you could do. What about the "Flim Flam Fairies" or "G is is for One Gzonk". Get with the times please. Funny how a seven year old is calling you out for a lame book. Hehe