Monday, February 16, 2015

Cake Books VS The Great American Novel

I'm not writing the "Great American Novel". I'll just be upfront. I'm not.

But I found myself wondering, do I want to? Great American Novels are held up on pedestals. They're read in high schools everywhere. They win prestigious awards and, not to mention, a permanent place in bookstores. We know many by name; The Great Gatsby, Gone With The Wind, To Kill A Mockingbird, and so on. They are the pinnacle of literature.

Why? I honestly don't know. I've tried to read classics and I just can't. They're wordy. Ever read the first paragraph in Treasure Island? It's actually one very long sentence. The second paragraph, I think, adds up to two very long sentences. Treasure Island is not a "GAN", btw, it's just considered great literature. But for my point to this blog post, it really doesn't matter.

When I read, I want to get lost. I want to be swept up and taken on an adventure. The books that fill my bookshelves--The stories that I love so much it sometimes hurts--aren't considered Great American Novels, or even great literature. They're fantasy and romance. They're sci-fi and dystopian. They're Harry Potter AND Twilight.

To me all of these books are great literature. Some because they're beautifully written and some because they made me feel things in wonderfully profound ways. I would trade all of the Gone With The Winds in the world for my books--Yes, that includes Twilight.

Still, I see the accolades given to the Great American Novels and I wonder...Is that what I should be writing? Should that be my goal? Are the books I'm working on lesser in comparison?

I contemplated this for several days, wondering at the values applied to classic literature and Cake Books. Cake Book, btw, is a term I made up. It's a term I apply to books that are filled with all the good things. Just like cake. I wouldn't consider Harry Potter a cake book either. It's too serious and dark as the series goes on. Twilight I probably would consider a Cake Book. Mostly, I call adult romances Cake Books. They're usually light and leave me smiling. They're also usually considered trash by the general public.

I don't feel this way. Cake Books have brought me far more joy than any Great American Novel ever has. They inspire me to be happy and to seek happiness. I hope to someday write these books. Mostly because I think it would be fun. It's freakin cake! What isn't fun about cake?!

So bringing this article back to its original purpose--Is the Great American Novel better than a Cake Book? The answer is no. A book's reason for existing is to take you away; help you experience something new. They're meant to give you joy, make you laugh, and even break your heart. A book, any book, that can do this is great literature.

We shouldn't be ashamed for reading Cake Books, or for writing them. Let society hold up its GANs, like they're the prize sheep of the herd. I'd still rather read Twilight :)
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