Something has been on my mind lately. After a long hiatus our relief society is starting a book club. Last time they launched a book club in this ward one of my visiting teachers volunteered to head it up. We had more than one conversation about her difficulty in choosing books for the group. What some sisters feel okay about reading, others do not; I understand that. If the Relief Society is hosting there has to be a certain amount of censorship in what is chosen and offered as suggested reading; I understand that. What I don’t understand is the unwillingness of some to read anything that differs from the values with which they choose to lead their lives. I try not to judge others, but truthfully it frustrates me when a friend tosses a book aside due to what she views as “junk”. Usually this junk will be a section of the book that discusses lifestyle choices we view as sin. But often (because they are books I’ve read and recommended) this sin is in no way glorified or gratuitous. It is part of the journey and life of what is generally a greater lesson. So much beauty and empathy can be experienced and shared through books if we will be willing to not judge the characters by a standard they don’t even know exists.
I’m not saying don’t censor your reading at all. Surely there is junk in the world of literature that is a waste of time, which will not uplift or edify us. But if we are to be in the world and not of it, don’t we need to have some understanding of how that world operates? By being unwilling to share any of what others’ experiences have to teach us I am afraid we don’t even realize what we might be missing.
Does this frustrate anyone else? How do you judge literature? What has literature taught you?