Tuesday, August 05, 2008

You are what you read

One of the dangers of modern media is that it encourages us to hold value judgements about people - the sort of thing we'd ordinarily develop from actual, meatspace interaction - on very limited and possibly spurious information. A single, unsourced one-liner on Holy Moly is enough to classify someone as hero or villain, genius or dolt, Madonna or Katona. We feel we know these people; we feel entitled to hold opinions, not about what they do or say, but what they're like.

A couple of years ago, I made some catty remarks about sometime Waterstone's buyer Scott Pack; subsequently I revised those because: a) his blog is quite good; and b) he's a serious Murakami fan.

Is the revision any less shallow than my initial prejudices, based as they were on a purist, kneejerk revulsion regarding the power of vast bookshop chains? (Which I can't really maintain without hypocrisy if they're kind enough to sell books that I write. That said, though, I'll just note that Waterstone's is currently doing a promotion on "Books you know you should read"; when they offer a similar selection of "Books you know you shouldn't read", I'll pay more serious attention to their recommendations, thanks.)

And how far can I take the if-he-likes-Murakami-he-must-be-a-good-chap meme? Especially when I discover that Alastair bloody Campbell is a Haruki junkie as well.

7 comments:

Murph said...

Thanks for getting my hopes up Tim. I read that as "Alastair bloody Campbell is a hara-kiri junkie".

Ritual Suicide would have been so fitting too....

Geoff said...

Is that "Books you know you should read but worry you'll find too difficult so what's the point in buying them as you might as well borrow them from the library, try the first few pages and then carry on if you get into them but if you don't you haven't wasted your money?"

llewtrah said...

I've just discovered Murakami, but I'm not about to revise my opinion of people based on what they read. I possibly enjoy classics Hitler has also read, but that doesn't make Hitler an okay guy.

Tim Footman said...

Under a tree in Oxfordshire, Murph?

No, Geoff: it's books you should buy so you can be seen reading them on the tube, occasionally nodding in agreement, or chuckling.

Llewtrah: Hitler's LibraryThing account would be a sight to behold...

dh said...

Obviously you've been following me around the London underground on my never-ending quest for understanding.

oyebilly said...

Apparently Danny Baker is a huge fan of PG Woodhouse.

Del said...

I'm currently reading Kafka On The Shore. And I'm a right bastard.