I’ve been through various phases in my reading life, going from adventure to classics to fantasy and sometimes deciding that this genre or that one was beneath me, that it was for children, or, better yet, it was for people who didn’t know better.
In other words, I was a nice person, then a snob, then a nice person again, going round and round in circles. Now I’m in the random pile phase, in which I read all sorts of things, good books and crap together.
The next to last book I read is A Place of Brightness, by Keith Massey, which I cannot remember buying, but which Amazon assures me I did, in fact, buy. It’s a spy thriller story that takes place mostly in Romania, but a rather indifferent one, not something I would re-read. Ever.
There were two good parts about it, each of which included me poking fun at the book:
- it being as religious as the superstitious folk around here, who don’t wash clothes on certain days (it’s a sin or something), and who believe that this or that priest had miraculous powers
- it having some idea of Romanian history, but being completely detached from reality. For example, the plot is centered around former communists who want to overthrow the current Romanian government and make their own, because they want to retain power. In reality, the former communists who wanted to retain power *are* in the bloody Romanian government. Like, really, three times post-communism president Ion Iliescu was in the Central Committee of the Communist Party – it’s on Wikipedia, for God’s sake. That’s how much we suck at the whole “Banish all communists” thing.
The last book I read is The Sons of Durin, by KivrinEngle. It’s basically about this gang of terrorists who show up in a grocer’s home and convince him to become a thief for them. Of course, the terrorists aren’t exactly terrorists, they’re more like a misunderstood bunch who ended up living a life of crime while trying to regain their rights, but they’re still criminals, pretty much.
It’s a story that probably has added bonus if you’ve seen The Hobbit (the movie) and names like Bilbo, Fili, Kili and Smaug mean something to you. But it works even without having seen The Hobbit. And it’s not my favorite book in the whole wide world, but the characterizations were good and the plot was fun and I didn’t roll my eyes once at the pages.
I daresay it was better than the previous book, by a good margin. More plot, more sense, more tangible people in it.
A few years ago, I was embarrassed to list fanfiction on my reading lists. I thought that fanfics were somehow inferior to normal books – and the inferiority or not of fanfics is a subject I’ve debated and over-debated. Fanfics often appeal to a more restricted audience (the people who know the story they’re based on), they don’t go through a publishing process, so they’re often less proofread, less edited, less censored, less a-lot-of-things than normal books. Fanfics are of all sizes and types and sometimes they’re just porn – and at other times they twist authorial intent way beyond what the author would find acceptable. Fanfics are “easier to write, because the basis of that world is already established” (this isn’t something I agree with, it’s just something I’ve heard a lot). Fanfics are abandoned midway by their authors (even by me!), fanfics stretch over too many pages.
Trust me, I’ve heard most of it, if not all of it.
But I’ve decided one thing: fanfics can be amazing, or they can be bad, which is true of every book out there. They can make you love them, they can make you feel, they can bore you to tears and annoy you to hell. Which means that they’re pretty much like every other book out there.
So I’ve started adding them to my reading lists – currently, to my Goodreads. If they’re not on the website, I take 5 minutes to add them (it isn’t too hard). I’ve added The Sons of Durin on Goodreads. A month ago, I added Winterheart, by Goddamnhella, which I kinda liked a bit more than I was expecting to – and other people came and reviewed it and rated it. A friend added it as to-read. And Goodreads is insisting I read other fanfics because I’ve also added two stories by Lightning-on-the-Wave there.
I love that. It reflects reality: whether published or not, all sorts of stories contribute to my view of the world. They fill my free time with all sorts of lovely things – and some fanfics are more memorable than the other stuff I read (will I ever remember A Place of Brightness a few months from now? If I will, it will likely be because of this post). And they’re there, to be loved and displayed and recommended to others.