At the risk of sounding like a literary snob, I must admit publicly that I have not read many of the series that have become more popular than Molly Ringwald’s characters in 80s movies.
The Twilight Series I have not read this because I have no interest in vampire fiction for teens, and it stuns me that something so contrived could become so successful in such a short time.
Harry Potter Again, I always saw this as a series for children and fantasy is not a genre I enjoy. Still, when’s the last time people waited in line for a book?
The DaVinci Code and similar ilk by Dan Brown. I never got into this because mystery thrillers have never really done it for me.
But the more I think about these wildly popular series that I have never troubled myself to read, the more I think there may be another reason behind the self-important one I believe is me fighting against perceived mediocrity. I think I am jealous of the success of these books in spite of their literary value.
Granted, I don’t know if they actually are devoid of literary value, because I have never read them. For all I know, they could be highly visceral works filled with sardonic wit. I doubt it, but it’s possible. I’m also not trying to imply that if it’s not Tolstoy or Milton I won’t read it. In fact, the opposite is true. I try to sandwich my classic reading with something lighter and more mainstream. Love in the Time of Cholera was like a Dagwood sandwich whose contents I thought I would never finish devouring, but was bookended with a Judy Blume novel and something equally as light and enjoyable. I’m also definitely not trying to imply that anything I write equals the literary value of Updike or Vonnegut, but like it, it doesn’t fit into a nice little genre like Twilight, Harry Potter, or The DaVinci Code. I think that’s something that literary fiction writers struggle with a lot – trying to answer the question “So what kind of book is it?”
I have therefore resolved myself to read the aforementioned works to try and figure out what makes them so ferociously popular, instead of seething at them. Be warned – I will likely be reading these very conspicuously.