Thursday, August 18, 2005

Defending Posh from the book snobs

I read the other day that Victoria Beckham claims never to have read a book in her life. Although many in the blogosphere were Horribly Shocked, I didn't think it interesting enough to blog about what the former Spice Girl and soccer star David Beckham's wife does or doesn't read. But this morning I did brake for a thoughtful article chastising the book snobs who have weighed in on Posh's reading habits. From yesterday's The Guardian:
Since when did a regular quota of suitably serious reading matter become obligatory? And who decides what's worthy anyway? If Victoria Beckham swallowed a regular dose of sugary chick lit or violent slasher chillers, for example (well, they're books too), would it somehow make her reading habits more acceptable than the fact that she happens to "love fashion magazines"?

It's an excellent article, although (here comes an inside joke for regular readers of this blog) I did wince a bit when Harry Potter was mentioned. Here's another of the parts that resonated with me:

. . . it's an unfathomable mystery why some people love cooking, others adore potholing, some can't abide either. It's probably about as likely that Mrs Beckham will be found with Middlemarch open on her bedside table as it is that I will learn the difference between Versace and Gucci (or care less about it). It's also probably about as likely that she would enjoy Dorothea and Casaubon as it is that I would get any fun out of going to the Prada sale.

Middlemarch. Yeah, I'm there. But what are Versace and Gucci? Some kind of pasta dishes?

Look, I'm all in favor of novel reading. I sure tried hard to turn my kids into readers. (So far I have a 50% success rate, but Number Two Son is just out of high school, so I haven't lost hope.) But I don't like to see novel reading used as a litmus test for intelligence and social relevance. And I really don't like hearing people trash the reading choices of others.

I have said that I don't care for chick lit. And yes, I've read several of the books now. Just yesterday I finished Kristin Billerbeck's She's Out of Control, the sequel to What a Girl Wants, which I read a month ago. And for those of you who think Christian chick lit isn't "real" chick lit, I'll add that I have also read some industrial-strength chick lit, including four Marian Keyes's books.

Billerbeck's books are charming and Keyes's books are clever, but reading chick lit is about as exciting to me as reading the back of a cereal box. And to be scrupulously honest, I haven't read the books so much as skimmed them. So why did I pick them up at all? Well, because I thought I might be missing something. And they were mildly entertaining. But I'm moving on now, going back to the books I find wildly entertaining.

I have made jokes about chick lit, and certain short-tempered bloggers can always be counted on to send me traffic whenever they believe I'm disparaging the genre, but what they don't get is that I'm actually not all that interested in what other people choose to read. There's nothing wrong with chick lit, just like there's nothing wrong with golf or strawberry milkshakes or Siamese cats or country music or [deep breath] Harry Potter books. I just don't care for those things, okay? So from time to time I'm going to make jokes about them. If you don't appreciate that kind of humor, you probably ought to find another blog to read, because that's what you're going to get if you stick around here.

But back to Posh and her fashion magazines. I don't know whether the woman is Mensa material or not, but I wouldn't presume to judge that based solely on the fact that she doesn't read books. Yes, I think she's missing out by not visiting fascinating worlds like Middlemarch. But she'd probably be just as amazed to learn that I don't see the point of pop music and shoe-shopping. Heck, I don't even think David Beckham is sexy.

This is diversity, people. It's a good thing.


Anonymous said...

you tell them, sister!
you have a nice day;-D
your country music loving friend

Robin Bayne said...

*who is David Beckham?*

Brenda Coulter said...

He's an English footballer. (That's "soccer player" to you and me, Robin.) He's probably the best-known athlete in the world.

Heather Diane Tipton said...

I know he is, and he isn't sexy.

Anonymous said...

Just did the checkitoutthing on beckham and not even close, now you want to talk sexy ( don't tell dh I said this ;-D) but Sean Connery is my pick!

Anonymous said...

While I have to say that David Beckham has a mighty nice torso, and Posh obviously has a talented personal trainer and spa chef, I find them both really dull when they speak, so I wouldn't want to sit to dinner with either. Posh is attractive in pics in a sour-faced, high maintenance way; but when she speaks, your head hurts.

Still...I used to love shoe shopping when I could handle pretty shoes with heels (a thing of the way, way past)and I do know Versace versus Gucci, sort of, just from decades of flippng through Elles and Vogues and Harpers Bazaars. Not that I own any.

But I too found it somewhat distressing that a human being in the heart of Western Civilization and a product of free education could go through their life without reading ONE BOOK all the way through.

Sorry, call me snooty, but I find that spooky.

I rename her, Spooky Spice.

As far as MIDDLEMARCH--read it, dissected it, essayed on it and I probably never want to ever read it again. It just wasn't my cup o' tea. Actually, G.E. is not my cup of tea. I am glad, though, that I got through that literary behemoth. It's better to read and then say, "eh", than not read and wonder if you're missing something that will change your life. :)


Anonymous said...

He is amazingly sexy, as long as he keeps his mouth shut.

J. Mark Bertrand said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
J. Mark Bertrand said...

I always assumed it was Posh Spice who worked all the clever literary in-jokes into the SPICE WORLD script, but I guess I was wrong. Must have been the Sporty one.

And really, I think the woman should be applauded for reading fashion mags. Anyone who can find the articles in one of those things is to be admired, not scorned.

Brenda Coulter said...


Anonymous said...

Hey, JM!
(btw, you have one of the all-time BEST blogs, love it!)

Some of those magazines have good articles, babe. I like the art/architecture/literature/history ones VOGUE sometimes has (usually excerpts from some non-fiction opus). ALLURE used to have great articles in its earlier years, with real fiction writers doing some article on their beauty/fashion/dieting/life-as-a-woman traumas and triumphs. Those were dang good. Now, it's mostly mascara tips. YAWN.

Don't judge a fashion magazine by its cover.

I'm guessing Posh isn't reading the articles on Catherine de Medici, Mies van der Rohe, Balthus, Frida Kahlo, Wim Wenders, J.D. Salinger, Virginia Woolf, or Jackson Pollock, though.

Oh, and I like the book and film reviews, too. Natch.


Anonymous said...

I had to chime in on the sexy thing: Russell Crowe, Gabriel Byrne, Sean Connery (with a beard and toupee, not so hot without hair), most of the cutiepies in Lord of the Rings, that guy from Monarch of the Glen whose name I don't know, Colin Firth, Jeremy Northam,James Marsters as Lovelorn Spike in BUFFY the VAMPIRE SLAYER,and Jonathan Cake as "Tyrannus" in EMPIRE... and my husband, AKA Tootsie, the Teutonic Megahunk. :D


Brenda Coulter said...

Whoa. Somebody throw a bucket of cold water on Mir!

Yes, let's plug Mark Bertrand's excellent blog. I enjoy it, but can't read too much at one sitting because sometimes all that profundity gives me a headache. But all you clever people should rush right over there.

Anonymous said...

Same here, Brenda. JM's post require slow chewing, digesting and post-meal pondering.

Hey... thanks for the cool water. Needed that! Whoo.