Earlier this year I persevered to finish Alan Jacobs’ The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. (I nearly abandoned it, but then discovered this book was best enjoyed a few pages at a time, right before bed.)
I’m glad I stuck with it, because I’ve found myself coming back to some of Jacobs’ ideas over and over, like this passage about evaluating books:
“Critical reflection of some kind is inevitable, so it would behoove us to do it well. The best guide I know to readerly judgment is our old friend Auden, who graciously summed up a lifetime of thinking about these matters in a single incisive sentence:
“For an adult reader, the possible verdicts are five: I can see this is good and I like it; I can see this is good but I don’t like it; I can see this is good, and, though at present I don’t like it, I believe with perseverance I shall come to like it; I can see that this is trash but I like it; I can see that this is trash and I don’t like it.”
I love how this framework is completely devoid of snobbery and any hint of the word “should,” and I’m feeling more liberated these days to hate the occasional classic, or adore the occasional breezy novel. It’s freeing.
I thought some of you might enjoy reading through your five options before Monday’s Quick Lit linkup. As you write your posts, please keep in mind that your fellow readers love to hear about the good books you hate and the trash that you love. I know I do.