Lit-erally read what you want
You do you, don't worry about 'must reads'
SUBSTACK has been getting a lot of column inches lately. Which is a good thing for writers on it, and so maybe for me in some unseen way.
More coverage of the site means more visitors and, depending on writer discoverability on the site, perhaps more readers for writers. I’ve also been getting a few emails telling me “<Your Contact> is now on Substack”, and I read an article last week about Salman Rushdie being on here too. I did not get an email about him joining; he doesn’t know I exist.
But that literary giants are on here feels a leveller, or maybe a splash of water on a parched bit of soil. Aside from the victory that this platform feels in a healthy way, I’m now playing on the same field as Mr Rushdie and others. Yes, they have all the kit and the latest boots and turn up to training dripping in awards. Yes they see this as the future of writing, whereas I’m thrashing my keyboard working out what to write as I go on, but honestly I’m out here in my sliders, Craghoppers and Superman t-shirt (true story) putting very hard work in to write the sweetest words for you all. And that feels good.
Oh, the last post had a ‘subscribe button’ in because I want to get word out about this a bit, so I’ve put one in here too. There are writers in the world many will never have heard of because they don’t make enough noise. I don’t make enough noise; I’m not good at saying I’m even a little bit good at anything. Enough of that.
I was actually thinking the other day that there are plenty of writers who need no introduction, but also wondering if they are objectively good writers. It’s not as if there’s a particular reason you should read them over lesser well-known folks, except for that we know about them. But don’t read them because people feel you should, that’s what school’s for. Definitely don’t read Moby Dick, for example. I tried that once, hated it and never looked back. Or do read it, but read what you like, not anything you feel you have to.
That guy Shakespeare? Genius, sure. But there are also ‘classics’ that exist purely because they were the ‘best’ works being written. That doesn’t mean they are good though. Let’s not forget the bar will have been pretty low - not to put down all legendary writers, but to put down some of them I guess.
Read what you want, is all I’m saying. I once bought a brand new Howard Jacobson book, read a chapter, wasn’t for me. I left it on the train for a potentially better home.
But do keep reading me, won’t you. If you’re keen.
I appreciate it, because this can’t be left on a train.