Bookish Discussion

What is “real” literature?

Last week, my father and I were having a discussion about how for me, reading isn’t a legitimate hobby because I don’t read “real” literature. “Harry Potter isn’t real literature,” he said, “Read something of substance like Dickens, then I’ll take your reading seriously!”

With all due respect to Charles Dickens, I don’t think the boundary of literature ends at his work. While Dickens is most definitely one of the most renowned authors, his work is not the only literature that matters. 

According to my dictionary, 

literature noun – 1. written works that are regarded as having artistic merit. 2. books and printed information on a particular subject. 

Nowhere does it specify that only renowned work is literature. While “artistic merit” is debatable, I’m sure it’s not restricting it to being only famous works or classics. 

Like the second definition states, literature is anything that’s written on a particular subject. The subject in question could be anything, from wizards to smut to food to travel. When it’s written about something, it’s literature. There have been so many times that English teachers or friends said that YA lit is trash and it gets on my nerves.

A book’s merit isn’t defined by when or by whom it was written. It’s defined by how much readers enjoy it. As for what real literature is – I believe that all books, good or bad, are literature. 

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