It hasn’t been a month since I last read in a Portuguese online newspaper a chronicle defending that it’s worthless to read new books. The author states that in a human life, being an assiduous reader, we would only get to read 4000-5000 complete books. And as so, he would rely on the “test of time” to choose his reads, thus omiting new releases on his personal library. As we all know, classics have earned their title because their message has remained valid or, at least, questionable for (sometimes) centuries and so even the most rebellious teenager on the 21st century would benefit somehow from reading them. Funny enough, one of my most recent posts is about a list I am trying to follow while picking up new reads – the “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die”. While it would be impossible for me to stick exclusively to that list, because my interests always cause me to drift away from that path, choosing that list implies that I trust someone else’s opinion on what should be read. Of course, that is a very personal choice, but I do think it is important to do so in order to avoid wasting my time, since I barely ever quit reading mid-way. There are many valid ways to value someone’s opinion or even get suggestions of books you never even heard about – through friends, if yours are the bookish type, through literary critics, Goodreads ratings (although that is a tricky one, ever since Amazon bought it, I must say) and, of course, fellow bloggers, IF their tastes are similar to yours, because I do find that the majority of bloggers are too much influenced by new releases (a.k.a. publishing companies) and therefore they become expert marketers. All the information is out there, you just need to pick through it.
The list I mentioned before includes both contemporary and classic reads, as well as works from very diverse origins, and it has been updated in 2012 and those are the main reasons I chose it. Also, I tested it. I calculated my average of ratings on the books I had already checked, and it was superior to 4/5, which has satisfied me.
While I do agree that classics are a major reference, I do feel like reading contemporary stuff makes me feel a part of something, like I contributed to the background scenery of that play. Also, readers can better understand different realities to their own, ethnical, racial, sexual, political, with a direct reflexion in their daily lives. I do think it is of the utmost importance to understand our own reality and the current tendencies in as a many ways as possible. Besides, refusing to try it, is quite limiting. I do think I could be fulfilled as a reader, through classics only, but I don’t like to think I could be missing another spectrum of colours entirely. Even if my favorite contemporary authors won’t make it to a Nobel prize or don’t survive the next decade, I have enjoyed them and to me they’re eternal. I do believe Literature should always be lived, albeit critically.
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