I finally caved. After receiving repeated invitations from my literate friends, I decided to join the social media platform known as Goodreads. I’ll admit that my reasons were purely selfish: I needed an efficient way to track both the books that I’m currently reading as well as those that I would like to read… someday… if I get the time.
It took a couple of hours, but I finally finished uploading each title. I don’t know whether my friends will care about this disparate list of tomes. Does it matter that I’m reading “Les Misérables” and “The Pond Owner’s Problem Solver”? Do they care that I’m enjoying slowly making my way through “Auto Repair For Dummies” and “Introduction to Manuscript Studies”? Will they gaze in wonder at the number of reference manuals I’m reading from cover-to-cover? Or will they simply be overwhelmed by the fact that my reading list, at present, comes to 51 separate books? Yes, I’m out of control.
I’ve had this problem since High School. I’m fascinated by nearly everything; science, history, philosophy, art, language – if you can write about it, you run the risk of my wanting to read it. And, since I’m in the mood for different genres at different times, my “active” reading list has rarely dipped below 35 books. (For those who would ask, yes, I do remember where I am and what I’ve learned from each.) This fits well with my marginally snobbish nature.
I’ve always valued the slippery and somewhat illusive title of “well-read”. Unfortunately, the pursuit of this title led to some serious introspection as I sat, scanning one book at a time into my new-found social friend. My gaze flitted towards the top of one of my many book shelves where a stack of comic books had been neatly curated. Would it damage my image if I included those?
For most of my life, I’ve looked down upon comic books as the “reading” material of the illiterate and unimaginative. Not that I’d have actually phrased it this way. I had a few friends who enjoyed occasional issues of Marvel or DC and, while I didn’t actually read the comics, I did watch a few of the TV series’ based upon them. (I used to have dreams of being the female version of “Batman” – only without the side-kick.)
Instead, my fall came much later in life… just after the premier of “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. In the course of rediscovering my love of Trek, I came across a fascinating detail: the original series (TOS) was being reworked for the new timeline in the form of comic books.
I wrestled with myself for several days, then quietly stole away to a local comic book store where I picked up a used copy of “Star Trek: Countdown” and “Star Trek Volume 1” and sat down to read. What I encountered astonished me. These were not what I’d envisioned. While the plots weren’t deep (a feature shared with TOS), they were entertaining. And the artwork was beautiful!
I was astounded by the level of detail and captivated by the rich colors which filled each page. It wasn’t long before I was able to identify the difference between the works of various artists and found myself looking for my “favorites”. Comic books, it turns out, are not simply “a kids thing”, but a medium for self-expression with which (quite sadly) I had been hitherto unacquainted. My eyes had been opened.
But now I faced the delicate question: was it time to share my new vision with others? Was it appropriate to include the soon-to-be released “Volume V” alongside titles like “The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons” or “The Arabian Nights”? Would it damage my snobbish image to post it with a collection of language learning materials representing tongues which, if I ever speak at all, I will speak only poorly?
I pondered the question for some time before finally settling upon the belief that it was. After all, what is literature if not a form of art: the personal, verbal expression of those worlds fictional or otherwise, which we as individuals have come to love? Comic books express that love differently, but they express it nonetheless and it seemed that this entitled them to a place amongst the other tomes which made up my list.
This philosophical quandary laid to rest, I went about my day… never once admitting the truth that the comic books don’t belong on my list because they’re “art”, but because I simply enjoy reading them. The snobbish side of me could never admit to that!