Literature Notes #002

My notes as a reader on:

Failing to read a text

In order to learn a lot, I need to read a lot. And now that I have the keys on how to read and enjoy fiction, I am doing just that. I have picked up an exquisite collection of „50 great short stories“ edited by Milton Crane. If you start with no clue, you can start anywhere with any author really.

What I quickly found out is that there’s more to the much dreaded „language barrier“ that readers like me with English as a second language face. In fact, usually it is not the language itself; I find myself lacking the cultural and historical knowledge to follow and appreciate everything that I’m presented. I combat this by reading up on the authors and the times they lived in as well as the times they wrote about. Also, I should probably do that for German texts as well. I might think I know my own culture, but what if I don’t? After all, what I was taught in school does not reflect everything there is and everything there has been and it is up to me to learn more about it.

But research cannot fix everything. There are some works that I still fail to enjoy. And if I don’t enjoy them, my willingness to finish reading them suffers, too. I find myself refusing just like a child would refuse to finish eating a meal it does not like. Schumann from my writing craft handbook would probably say it is my duty to still push through as I am reading to learn, not to enjoy. But is this really the way? The least I can do is trying to understand what makes a work not palatable to me and avoid doing the same in my own works if I can.

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