I've just finished reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman for the next gathering of the Novel Ideas Meetup. The first meetup and the subsequent reading of this book has made me realize some things about myself. I love to read. I read a lot. But I'm not an avid reader. I'm not a bibliophile. I pay precious little attention to the names of authors, books, genres and such. In short, I'm not a reading fanatic. But I'm a fan of reading.
I had no idea who Neil Gaiman was when I started reading this book (or when I finished the book part of it). In the e-edition, the contents of his online journal are included. It shares his perspective on the editing process. It wasn't until I read the journal that I knew he was somebody (i.e. not a first-timer). In the journal, he refers to lots of authors who are obviously supposed to be known to the reader. The only name I recognized was Stephen King... and that not because of reading his books, but because of his pop icon status.
I have treated books and the reading of them like I treat music and the listening to it. For the most part, I don't remember authors names or even the names of their books, nor do I keep a catalog of songs and their artists in my memory. With the notable exceptions of Dean Koontz and the Carpenters, I really can't tell you who writes or sings what. But I've read a lot. And I've listened to a lot of music.
So I guess the question I'm left with is this: Is it okay to simply consume books, without regard to their deeper meaning or the identity of the author and his or her influences? Am I shallow? I feel shallow. I feel like a good reading hobbyist would be aware of the nuances of genre, the influences of various authors on another, the award-winners and their significance, etc.
Clearly (from my first meet-up) I don't over-analyze what I read. In fact, I don't know that I analyze it all. That's not to say I'm indiscriminate (well, sometimes I am). I know when I've read something that was poorly edited... and believe me, there are lots of poorly-edited books in this new world of self-published ebooks.
Anyway... just wanted to process this in writing. Wondering if I should become more studied, or just continue in my own little oblivious way.
PS - I may blog about American Gods later. We'll see.