Books. 2

Charlie Brooker is someone, kind of like Jarvis Cocker (the glasses) or Roddy Woomble (the beard), that I really admire. I wouldn’t say he’s a hero, he hasn’t saved the entire world yet, but he is someone that I enjoy hearing from, be it his column in the Guardian, his TV series Screenwipe, or his clever TV shows, such as last years Dead Set, or the brilliantly pitched and remarkably well aged Nathan Barley (peace and fucking, yeah?).

His topic this week neatly ties in with my recent activities – books. Mostly about lying about reading them to impress certain members of the opposite sex. He argues (and he argues with himself) that reading books is in it’s self pointless, having realised that
“…while people lie about having read highbrow novels in order to impress each
other, a massive percentage of highbrow novels aren't worth reading anyway
because the authors are too busy trying to impress the reader (who, we now know,
probably hasn't bothered turning up).”
which I found quite funny and possibly true to some extent.

It’s time for a confession: I have lied about reading books in the past. The reason for this is quite simple; school. Of course we were supposed to read Consider the Lillies and understand the whole growing old thing, but to be honest, when you are 15 you can’t be arsed reading it and no matter how much you are told you must you just don’t. And then when talked to by the teacher who says “Have you blah blah read it?” you say “Yes miss” and hope to fuck she won’t ask you what happens when the aeroplane crashes through the time portal onto the isolated island in the final part (this is what I imagine happening anyway).

A defining moment in my English teaching is in 5th year for my Higher English which you NEED to get to go anywhere. After a terrible prelim in January where I failed so hard no amount of FAILblog could have represented it in a funny email, I was shipped off to a tutor who helped me through the exams, basically to pass. But in the specialist study I found a new enjoyment for writing and reading - you have to choose one book and write 2000 words on the matter (this blog is 664 words, how funny) and I chose Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett. The story (a childs/adolescent book) focuses on Johnny who awakes on night inside his space computer game, where he finds that the universe he is playing the game in is actually real, and he has to save them from extinction by all the other gamers in the world. Interestingly, and the subject of my study, in the back ground his family is splitting (a personal war) and the Gulf War is taking place on TV. The contrast between the real war, Johnny's "real" war in the game and his family troubles are probably the most intellectual thing I have ever written. Still amazes me to this day how I lucked out choosing a book that even my tutor was impressed with.

The problem with this is the same realisation that I had when learning French. Being forced to do something cultural is entirely wrong. Being forced to read and critique, or being forced to learn a language doesn’t work with the majority because they automatically associate that with prison, or at least work. It is in later life you realise that vous aimeriez vraiment apprendre le français. Or whatever.

Have I ever lied about reading a book to seem better to someone? No, actually – in fact, my recent admission to a friend that I have not read many books has spurred me on to rattling through two substantial books in quick succession, to the point that now I am listless without having something to read. How quaint!

Now, where’s my Ulysses, or the Bible, I want to read them. Again.