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What is a "beach read" anyway? Issue #10 of a newsletter by @karmicangel)

Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
Listening to an interview with an author on CBC’s Q this week, my friend Margy was annoyed hearing the guest host describe the book in question as “a beach read, but with depth,” or something to that effect. We talked about it all the way home - this hierarchy of reading that authors and readers are subjected to.

It’s like the distinction between “literary” writing and “other” writing. I have no problem with it as a way to divide a bookshelf (the same way you would with science fiction or memoir) but to make writers feel bad that they don’t fit into your narrow idea of what “literary” fiction is? Or to make readers feel dumb for not reading the “real” literature? I find that both snotty and hurtful in ways that have nothing to do with a reader’s enjoyment of the book.
But what is a “beach read” anyway?
Here’s what Eva Salinas said on Twitter:
I think that’s a completely reasonable definition of a beach read (and the opposite of the Q guest host’s idea by the way) - a book you need time and space to absorb, with no distractions.
Here’s what Casey Hackett said on Twitter:
100% agree with Casey there. I was astounded to find out that my daughter (younger to me by 26 years) was reading the same “classics” that I read in my junior high and high school years. Are we really expected to believe that no one has written a book worthy of our students since the 50’s? And that they were mostly white males?
Lifting without Dividing
That sounds a bit like an ad for a good sports bra, but I have to think there is a way to lift a book and writer without painfully outdated characterisations.
I much prefer the “if you liked this, you’ll love this” approach to talking about books. Every time this has happened to a book I’ve written, I am honoured and humbled by the comparisons.
I am going to continue to read books of every kind, by every author, wherever I damn-well please. Sand not included.
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Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)

Digital Director @TheWalrus, journalist, fiction author, instructor @RyersonU and nerdy Kashmiri Canadian. Opinions are my own.

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