"In order to pronounce a book bad it is not enough to discover that it elicits no good response from ourselves, for that might be our fault." ~An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis
The other day, I ran across this quote and that, in turn, led me to buying the book. I’ve read the first few chapters, and it has me sitting back on my heels, saying “Uh, huh.” Life has changed from when this book was written, but, although the media for storytelling has evolved, much of what Lewis says still rings true. In the first chapters, he attempts to differentiate between those with “good taste” and those with “bad taste.” It is not as easy as saying, “If you agree with me, you have good taste.”
While I was reading these first chapters, two people came to mind. I realized, even though I had never even thought of them in these terms before (I only knew I enjoyed conversing with them), that they have good taste even though their tastes do not coincide with mine. This is what I have garnered from Lewis (and perhaps I am reading him incorrectly)—good taste comes from approaching a work of art (he talks of music and art, not just of books) with no expectations, with no preconceived notions. It’s amazing how many people simply say something like “I hate country music.” Really? You’ve listened to all country music, and none of it has any appeal for you? My two friends, however, are different. They do not shut out entire genres of art. Instead, they are open to new ideas and approach life with a willingness to learn.
Recently, I did some interviews during which I was asked about my favorites. I’ve always said I have few, if any favorites, of anything. I don’t read in only a few genres. I don’t listen to only one type of music. I don’t enjoy just certain types of cuisine. I approach life willing to give almost any and everything a fair shake. Lewis says we must surrender our preconceived notions to fully appreciate art. And I agree.
There’s a group of people on Facebook that have reverse snobbery. Anything the masses like, they instantly take a dislike to…The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, Divergent, etc. It seems as if the more popular the book, the less they like it. These people also dislike whole genres… “I would never read romance. I hate thrillers.”
Yeah…I’ve never really understood that. I’ve also never understood how just one small part of a book can make someone hate the whole book.
What is my point? I am asking readers to broaden their horizons—do not let preconceptions and prejudices keep you from reading, and liking, certain books. (Exceptions would be those that clearly are evil. Let’s read and study our Bible enough to recognize evil.)
Fairness is something I’ve championed all my life. I’m broadening my horizon enough now to apply that to books! Won’t you join me?