09 November 2008

Escapism

Up until about three years ago I was a Nonfiction Snob.

You know us when you see us.

In the bookstore we're either smugly huddled together, hands wrapped around steaming coffees, chatting in hushed tones in the Biography section or we're going it solo in Current Events - still looking smug.

You can tell when a Nonfiction Snob has fallen off the (high) wagon. At the library she is the one hiding in Classics - note the furrowed brow, the furitive glances around, the "body block" posture so that no one passing can see the cover of Jane Eyre.

Many of us were shaken to our very history-loving roots with the arrival of Harry Potter. HP wasn't just fiction it was ::horrified gasp:: Fantasy.

Jeez, what'll you be reading next? Battle Star Gallactica fan fiction?

It was easy to believe HP was an aberration. One work of Fantasy every year or so doesn't ruin your cred down the Biography aisle, does it?

Yes. Every bit as much as a vegan coming off a bacon bender suffers ruined cred at the smoothie bar.

So I was quietly - secretly - pleased when the book group to which I belonged decided to match the months on the reading calendar to different genres so as to keep a balance and broaden everyone's biblio-palate (mine).

March was chosen as Science Fiction month. I'd never read a word of SciFi in my life. I'd religiously watched Star Trek: Next Generation but that was because I had (have) a thing for Patrick Stewart.

Anyway, the rule was that everyone came to the monthly meeting with a suggestion for the next month's read. I had no idea where to start and the Internet was no help. Do you people have any idea how many science fiction books are considered classics?

That's when I turned to a friend who was a known, ravenous, consumer of SciFi - and he happened to be one of the smartest people I'd ever known. Still is.

His recommendation? Brave New World. I took the name with me to the meeting, scrawled it on a slip of paper, and threw it into the hat never dreaming it would be chosen and I'd have to read it.

But it was. And I did. And I've never looked back.

So as I sit here, curled up snug as a bug on the loveseat, under my wool Michael Collins blanket (I can't resist a tragic ending) about to open the cover of the fourth book in the Twilight series. And I'm a bit sad. This is the last of the currently-published books and I don't want it to end.

Sure, the movie premieres in two weeks but - handsome as Robert Pattinson may be in a barely post-pubescent way - he looks nothing like the Edward in my head. And Bella...Bella is all wrong. Just as Hermione was...is...in the HP movies. She's supposed to have black hair, dammit! What's with all the blond highlights? Can't Hollywood allow anyone be raven-haired?

I am eternally grateful to the wise leader of the old book club for using her standard-issue librarian crowbar to pry me out of nonfiction. My life - and my imagination - are much the better for it.

2 comments:

hswilkinson said...

Oh, there are more, many more scifi books you need to read. I've listed a few, because I'm the HUGE scifi geek. :)

1. "Stranger in a Strange Land" - Robert Heinlein
2. "Dune" - Frank Herbert
3. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" - Philip K. Dick (book that "Blade Runner" was based on)
4. "Neuromancer" - William Gibson
5. "The Forever War" - Joe Haldeman
6. "Ender's Game" - Orson Scott Card

Melissa said...

Oh yeah...Enders Game is fabulous! I would also add The Foundation Series by Asimov.

My book club does the genre thing, too. Sometimes it annoys me, but it has helped expand my boundaries a bit. Which is a good thing.