We’re going to tackle this question by pretending to examine two camps of literary opinion.
The Harold Bloom Crowd
Bloom is an eminent literary critic who wants people to read the classics. He feels that many or most universities are no longer teaching Literature with a capital L.
Stories work better for this explanation. When the National Book Foundation awarded Stephen King the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, Bloom threw a freaking fit.
This award usually goes to authors whose books are considered Important. Who write moral stories for adults. Who participate in the “sublime.”
Stephen King is a big fan of J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books. I’m paraphrasing here, but King has stated that the Harry Potter books have done that amazing thing–getting kids excited about reading. He also said that kids who read J.K. Rowling will become kids who read Stephen King.
Harold Bloom feels that that is exactly true…and part of the problem. That it would be better to read nothing than to read Stephen King or J.K. That reading the pulp, mass market paperbacks you find in the grocery store along with V.C. Andrews is worse than ignoring books altogether.
The “Any reading is good” camp
On the other side is the opinion that any reading is beneficial. That reading something flexes part of your brain in a way that reading nothing doesn’t.
So what do you think? Ignore the word “bad” in the title. I picked it because I had to pick something. Hopefully the gist of the question is clear.
Which camp are you in and why?
For the record, I have nothing but love for Stephen King. I’m also a fan of about 80% of what Bloom says. It’s not like either one of them wrote Twilight, so I can forgive them for just about anything.
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