Monthly Archives: June 2014

Readers of Popular and Literary Fiction Can Get Along


I have been away from this blog for a while.  I apologize.  I have a reason: I started a publishing company!  The company is called Hope Books, LLC and I am its manager.

For the past few months I have been juggling teaching with parenting with late-night publishing work.  I was thrilled to have received a summer class to help pay the bills.  I am excited to see all that Philip is learning and discovering.  And, it has to be said, I have had some fun sharing my love of Bruce’s book, Schism, and helping to make sure people know about it and, for those that can, buy it.  To leave no stone unturned, people who have the means can buy it via the following vendors:

Barnes and Noble

For those who do not have the means, you can read it or listen to it online for free here: (read for free)

itunes (listen to podcast for free) (OK, for this one, you can only read the first 30% for free)

That said, I want to tell you what’s been on my mind today.  In the interest of that “better world” dream I persist in having, I would like to talk about readers of POPULAR fiction versus readers of LITERARY fiction.  There seems to be a long established tradition of enmity between those who read for fun and those who read for status, a mental workout, etc.  In my recent experience, I have seen friends and relations in the literary fiction camp frown on popular work as lacking in intellectual gravitas.  I have also witnessed independent bookstores rejecting popular fiction categorically because it is not literary fiction.  (Plus, there seems to be a high correlation [or reputation] between poor craftsmanship and self-published works, which is unfortunate.)

I will tell you, most unreservedly, that I am a fan of both.  That was not always the case.  As a young woman, I felt that Jane Austen and I were soul sisters.  Even in college, I had a hard time breaking the mold and venturing out into new genres.  I loved everything that rambled with a mellifluous bent.  If the characters were pathetic, miserable and had a horribly tragic end, all the better.

I have since changed my tune.  I think the transition occurred when Bruce and I started to read Harry Potter.  I remember it very clearly.  He had gone to our local bookstore and found Harry Potter #2 (The Chamber of Secrets) on a 20% off stack.  He brought it home, started reading it and loved it.  Then he said, “You should read this, too.”  I snootily replied that I was, in no way, going to read a CHILDREN’S BOOK.  He said, “OK.  Well, I’m going to go back to buy the first one.  I really think you’d like it, though.”  So, he bought it and two things happened.  First, I agreed to read it and started on the path of reading for entertainment and not just to prove my intelligence.  Second, we began our tradition of reading books aloud to each other.  We have, in fact, read ALL of the Harry Potter books this way (and we even reread the series from the start prior to each new release).  But, of course, we haven’t only read Harry Potter.  We discovered Suzanne Collins, Jim Butcher, Greg Rucka (Tara Chace and Atticus Kodiak–AWESOME), Alexander McCall Smith (charming Mma Ramotswe) and many others along the way.  We have also supported our love of Michael Chabon (however you pronounce his last name, we still think he’s BRILLIANT), Cormac McCarthy (house divided on this one) and others.

The point?  There is room, my friends, to love them all.  There is space out there in the universe for us all to enjoy the quirky and the sublime.  We do not need to fight.  We do not need to pose.  We do not need to disrespect each other.  And whether you prefer to get your knowledge in life from fact or fiction, pulp or parchment, via the library or bookseller, in-person or online, remember this quote from Dr. Peter Nazareth, one of my professors in college: “You can get something out of everything you read.”  So true.  You never know where that next book will come from that will change the way you think about things.  It’s worth the risk to cross the line.