First of all some context. I was talking on twitter with @gavreads and @Alasdaircookie about some of the apologetic terms we use about our reading habits. Then there was a sneering article in the Guardian by some nobody snarking at the beloved Sir Terry Pratchett for, basically not been hard enough to read to be considered literature. So discounting his nothing opinion as clickbait tripe, we shall move on. (This is a rebuttal also in the Guardian, so who knows what is going on there)
So who is Fat Amy? If you know Pitch Perfect, you already know, if not, all you need to know is we love Fat Amy. She is absolutely her own woman and she introduces herself as follows:
Aubrey: What’s your name?
Fat Amy: Fat Amy.
Aubrey: You call yourself Fat Amy?
Fat Amy: Yeah, so twig bitches like you don’t do it behind my back.
Fat Amy makes no apologies for being herself.
So where is this leading?
It’s about guilty pleasures. We love the books we love. We love them for all sorts of reasons, the familiar and comforting, the new adventures, the worlds we visit and lives we lead through them, the new things we experience, the feels, OMG the feels! We can be anything ‘We can be Heroes, just for one day’ through books.
If I want to read something that seems silly or frivolous or god forbid mediocre (still bitter about that Guardian douche) because it makes me happy, because I enjoy how it makes me feel, or I like the character or the story then why should I apologise for it? Why should I start out introducing my book as Fat Amy? If you are wondering, the writers of feeble Guardian opinion pieces are the twig bitches in this analogy, except with out the redeeming qualities of the characters in the film.
Why do we need to apologise for our pleasures not being deemed worthy or literary? If a book bores you rigid in a wood and there is no one there to impress is it still literary or is it just a massive time waste?
Guilty pleasures, chick lit, all that stuff about people liking kindles because other people can’t see the cover and judge you, too old for young adult, too old for children’s books, escapism, not literary. I want to burn all these things out of our vocabulary because there is really only one question that matters? Why do you read? I read for pleasure and mental stimulation, the fact that I am also enriched, educated and made a more empathetic person as I go is a bonus to me, a happy side effect of doing something I want to do. If you read to be challenged that’s fine, if you read purely for new knowledge, also fine, but honestly don’t use your choices as a reason to look down on mine! Have a fat heart, love books, love reading, love it your way, let me love it mine and stop with this whole ‘this is better’ and the ‘more literary than thou’.
Reading is a private pleasure but a shared passion, don’t apologise for what you love, just love it and share it and celebrate it. When I closed the cover of Sir Terry Pratchett’s final book yesterday I didn’t think about it being fantasy, or a young adult protagonist, I thought about how it made me laugh and how it hurt my heart, about what happens to people when they get too old to be seen as useful, and the expectations we put on our families and they on us. I also thought about the thousands of other people feeling the same things around the world as they read it too. Of course I also grieved a little, because my relationship with Sir Terry was purely through his books and this is the last.
Fat Amy has an awesome life, she’s a great singer, she has an excellent love life (we see her in a pool surrounded by super hot guys) and she has all the best lines in the film, yet she still introduces herself as Fat, so people don’t say it behind her back. Stop apologising for what you enjoy. Stop introducing your books as Fat Amy. Stop prefixing them with scorn so other people can’t. No more guilty pleasures, just pleasures please people, and if people do judge them stuff them, let them sneer and miss out, we don’t need to care, we read what we read and we love it, it’s aca-awesome.