It’s time for Canary The First to cough up and share her best and worst reading experiences. Before writing this article, I made a rather lengthy list of top and bottom books.
Of the best, there was Master and Margarita with its demonic, gun-wielding cat. Frank Herbert’s Dune for taking my first trip into elaborate, multi-tome science fiction. Zelazny’s sword and sorcery sent me tailspinning into that genre, and The House of Spirits showed me how brilliant magic realism could be.
On the worst side, there were books like the Name of the Wind, where even a masterful audiobook performance couldn’t save my brain cells. There was Ivan Vyzhigin, a 19th century Russian bestseller, complete with blatant racism and sickly sweet romantic themes. Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises in Middle School did unspeakably boring things to my soul.
But in the end, I realized that my all time best reading experience was…
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Because I hadn’t disliked it.
I breezed through a friend’s enthusiastically recommended copy of Twilight, and kinda liked it. It wasn’t great, but it was a fine way to procrastinate homework and pass four hours after school. The next day after power-skimming through the novel, I had no clear recollection of what I’d read and was well on my way into another novel.
So when I first encountered a Twilight rant, I was flummoxed. Bad romance? Bad writing?
And that was when I realized that sometime in the last year or so, I’d stopped actually reading. Long before I’d identified myself as a writer or a swimmer, or even a cat lover, I was a reader.
But in that moment, that fundamental fact tilted and wavered. I was going through books, but I wasn’t reading them. Not really.
In the four hours it took me to skim down the pages, lapping up the bare bones of the story, I managed to miss everything that makes Twilight the controversial monolith of teenage (and writerly) angst that it is. How many other books had I done that to?
Twilight forced me to stop and reevaluate my approach to reading. And even as the realization that I was wasting my time reading makes this a low point in my life as a reader, it also makes Twilight the best thing that could have happened to me. Without it, I might not have consciously slowed down my read when I got my hands on William Gibson’s Neuromancer—one of my longstanding favorite books ever.
I might not be here, blogging about books, if not for Twilight.
Here’s to making the worst reads our best reads.