Literary vs. popular books

United States
May 29, 2007 2:56pm CST
Okay, so I heard a college professor say that certain books should not really be read in an academic setting, because they are for the masses. What is your preference? Do you like literary or popular novels for your reading pleasure?
2 people like this
10 responses
1 Jun 07
As some have already stated, I like both, with a massive preference towards contempary fiction, because I prefer things that are set in the modern day, but I do enjoy many of the classics. Probably my favorite literary novel would be Flowers for Algernon,I found it incredibly moving.
@Angelwriter (1956)
• United States
31 May 07
I don't know if I like either. I've liked some literary books I've read in college, but I didn't read them for pleasure. And, I don't really read popular books, either. At least, I don't think the books I read are popular among a wide range of people. I rarely read best sellers or books like that. But, I think it's pretty snobby of the professor to dismiss books because they are popular. Wasn't Shakespeare originally written for the masses to enjoy? Like a good movie or tv show?
@vivienna (583)
• Venezuela
30 May 07
What does literary mean? What does popular mean? It would be a shame if good literature could be identified by its unpopularity! Good literature means: good in its genre. Just a few examples: Do you like to read detective novels? Read Chandler or Hammett and you'll get first class literature. Do you like SF? read Wells, Orwell, Verne, Asimov!. Do you like romance? Read Stendhal, Tolstoi, Hemingway. Fancy? Tolkien. Society? Hawthorne, Austen, Zola. Adventure? Dumas, Stevenson. These arn't contemporary authors? No, but they wrote highly popular books that can teach you to distinguish between waste-bucket literature and good one. There is also a large list of actual living writers that are WWW (well worth while)! Reading is an adventure, every one has to travel his own journey, but I agree with the mentioned college professor in that there are some deserts you don't have to go to!
@emeraldisle (13145)
• United States
30 May 07
The thing is and something you might want to point out to your college professor is that most books that we read in our English Literature classes were written for the masses at the time. Such classics as "The Canterbury Tales", "Macbeth", "The Great Gatsby" to name just a few were written by authors to make money. They were designed to be read by people and to make money. They were not written to be studied by college students. Now when you are talking about other fields that's different but in English classes all the books and stories read were written for the masses to enjoy. It's just the masses have changed.
@laowai (137)
• United States
30 May 07
I'll generally read both, but my preference is for the literary. I usually pick up the books for the masses when someone else passes them along to me or when I don't feel like reading anything too difficult. Whenever I have a lot of work to do I will read something that doesn't require as much thought to get through. Those books are usually the ones that I don't remember as well.
@ElicBxn (60894)
• United States
29 May 07
Where does science fiction or mysteries fit in. I guess I'd have to go with popular novels since I prefer SF/F and some mysteries (rather than suspence.)
@Debs_place (10525)
• United States
29 May 07
Would you be able to expand, what is considered literary and what is considered for the masses? I think many books that we read now in an academic setting were at one time written for the masses.
@Aurone (4758)
• United States
29 May 07
I like both. And I read both. I think the professor is right in some respect some books are just entertaining and they really don't comment about anything. Those should be left for personal reading for fun. I think its more important in a college setting to read books that impart some comment about society either now or in the past. Or display some insight about humanity, but a book can be good and well written without doing either of those things. And a lot of the books that are now good literature were popular novels in the past.
@teison2 (5924)
• Norway
29 May 07
I do not think there is necessarily a difference between books for the masses and good literary quality. Most people read a variety of different books. I think they are all part of our culture. In a literature course I feel it is wice to include all the different kinds of literature that people read. I feel it should give a coss section of the liturature of a certain time period regardless what a professor thinks is worthy literature and books for the masses
@toe_ster (771)
• United States
29 May 07
I like any and all. I think some books are for knowledge purposes only. Some are just plain fun. Some give yuo a quick and easy escape. They serve so many purposes. Maybe that college professor didn't want distraction from the litererary focus he was trying to get out. But you can learn something new from each and every book you read. Fact or fiction. I see his point and somewhat agree. But I still prefer any and all forms of reading.