Armchair BEA Day#1 – Intro & Literature

Armchair BEA Day#1 – Intro & Literature

Armchair BEA begins today with folks all over the web hopping about to meet fellow lovers of books. Naturally it makes sense to greet these new book-lovers with an introduction!

Sharon Lathan 2014My name is Sharon Lathan and I am a novelist. My full bio and publishing tale can be read on the About Sharon and other pages. As an author who draws heavily upon history, and who admittedly needs to connect with readers for success, blogging was a natural outcome. Fortunately I discovered that I love writing blogs about what I learn as I research! And I love, love, love to connect with my readers or potential readers. 

I began in early 2006 with a forum-style website. From those humble beginnings my website/blog has grown, varying as time has passed. Now it is a mixture of historical information, news about my novels, entertainment, Jane Austen-related tidbits, and hosting place for my many author friends.

Questions from Armchair BEA—

Q – What was your favorite book read last year? What’s your favorite book so far this year?
In 2013 I finally got around to reading the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. I loved it! At the moment I am reading Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. BIG fan of the TV show, so figured it is time to attack the books. So far, excellent.

reading nookQ – What does your favorite/ideal reading space look like?
Honestly, when I am totally into a book I could be sitting on a rock in a snow storm. Nevertheless, I prefer to curl up in my comfy recliner. The pic here isn’t my reading nook, but I sure wish it was!

Q – If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 books would you bring?
In this case I would have no excuse not to finish all the Martin A Song of Fire and Ice novels, so I’d bring them. Next I would grab JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I never tire of reading the trilogy! Lastly, but most importantly, I would bring my Bible.

Q – What book would you love to see as a movie?
Now that Peter Jackson has so brilliantly brought Tolkien to the screen, I would LOVE to see my next favorite fantasy series made into movies, or a serial on HBO. That would be The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings.


Now that you know ALL about me – LOL! – time to turn the blog post to the Armchair BEA topic for Monday: LITERATURE. The questions to dwell on and answer are these: What do you think of when you think of literature? Classics, contemporary, genre, or something else entirely?

I want to hear how you answer those questions. For me, I believe it is tragic that the instant definition that pops into my mind when I hear “literature” is the hoity-toity one of only classics or novels deemed valuable by a select group of literary snobs. In my heart that is not what literature is, or how the definition was meant to be interpreted. Literature, as defined in dictionaries, is: 1) “The body of written works of a language, period, or culture,” and 2) “written material such as poetry, novels, essays, etc, esp works of imagination characterized by excellence of style and expression and by themes of general or enduring interest.”

BEA GiveawayThe second definition is where the snobbish attitude comes from. Yet who is to decide what is excellent or will be of enduring interest? I believe that ALL novels and written works are of value, the result of imagination and expression, and enduring to those who read and enjoyed them.

What are your thoughts on the subject? I want to hear! Then be sure to visit the Armchair BEA Headquarters to visit other bloggers participating in the fun. Comments and interactions serve as an entry into the massive prizes offered.

On my blog comments as well as additional “tasks” earn points toward a separate giveaway. Click the image for details and to enter. Thanks and good luck!




27 Comments for Armchair BEA Day#1 – Intro & Literature

  1. I think “literature” as a genre (to me) are the books that are enduring. Austen, LOTR, Bronte etc just don’t age. They are as enthralling in 2014 as they were when I first read them, classics as it were. That does not discount current books at all, they just become a part of the literary landscape and weave a new stop on the train. As someone that works in higher education, I think the “snobbish” reference to literature is perpetuated by the professors of such that look down on so many things that the rest of us love. It causes the general public to think that literature is a cultural thing.

    Just my viewpoint…

    My literature is quite varied. I love Austen (no surprise there), Sharon Lathan, Susanna Kearsley, Tolkien, Emily Loring, LM Montgomery, Steinbeck…I could go on and on. I’d be torn if I had to pick 3, I feel like I’m picking favorites of my children. LOL

  2. For me literature is any form of art that speaks to me. For example a great painting or drawing can speak to ones soul and ignite a whole literature of the authors interpretation!! Words, the way any written word reaches your emotions and let’s you transport yourself to another time and place and makes you think….Literature at its best.

  3. It is to each of us to choose our literature, what we love, what we don’t. We are diverse and I am glad the choices we have are many. Love what you say and agree totally. Also had to laugh out loud at this:

    Honestly, when I am totally into a book I could be sitting on a rock in a snow storm.


    Looking forward to getting to know you through your work!

  4. OK, Sharon, I’m back. Whew! I already had to plug in my IPad to recharge my batteries. I’ve never read so many blogs and had so much to ponder in one morning/early afternoon. Will head out again as soon as I am fully recharged. (May have to put my feet up and think with my eyes closed for a bit.) J Dawn King signing out -for now.

  5. I agree that literature is the written word. Love Tolkien, Dumas, Orczy, Austen and many modern writers. I very much enjoy variations as well. Literature doesn’t have to be stuffy.

  6. The very word “literature” sounds snobby, doesn’t it? A “book” sounds much friendlier. To me, the classics are “literature” while everything else is a “book”. Thank you for the question as I’ve not ever stopped and thought of that before.

    Off to the next blog. Enjoy your day please!!!

    • Sadly it has come to sound snobby, Joy, although I don’t believe that is the proper attitude for what should be novels that appear to everyone. I do like your distinction 🙂

  7. I am surprised you wouldn’t take Pride & Prejudice as one of your favorite books if stranded on a desert isle. I know it would be one of my three choices. I do endorse your taking the Bible and Lord of the Rings.

  8. Yes, when the words “literature” or especially “English Literature” (I’m using capitals deliberately for the latter, as that’s how it was used at school) come to my mind, it is as, as you both say above, the “classic” works that I think of. My experience at school turned me on to some things and off others. Strange, considering we had the same teacher for the whole of the five years that I studied the subject. I’m fond of the works of Shakespeare and John Keats but not George Eliot or Dickens. The Brontë sisters and Thomas Hardy fall somewhere in between and I must re-read them sometime. Sadly, our year didn’t get to study any of the works of Jane Austen but I discovered her all by myself, prompted by seeing the 1940 dramatisation of P & P at age 11 and then going on to read first that book and eventually the rest.

    As you say, Sharon, I think that snobbery abounds regarding modern writing and whether it’s regarded by those same snobs as being good enough to be classed as literature. Does an author have to be nominated for one of the grand literary prizes, such as the Booker? If so, I’ve probably read only one of those- Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and that was due to the concept of a series of next nested stories travelling forwards and then backwards in time, not because it had been nominated. I’ve lent it to several friends and colleagues. Some loved it like me but some couldn’t cope with the concept. They tended to be the ones who love the latest “celeb autobiographies” ghostwritten for these “celebs” whilst they’re still in their early twenties. I AM aware that it’s me who’s being the snob now!

    In the end, as Sharon so emphatically says, all written works have their value. If people are encouraged to read and gain knowledge that way instead of, or as well as, absorbing what we’re fed by the various forms of media available nowadays, then it MUST be a good thing.

    • Just had another look at my post. Gosh, I did waffle on, didn’t I? Sorry for that but I will add one more comment. I’d have to agree with Sharon regarding the Lord of the Rings and A Song Of Fire and Ice but I’d also have to have the collected works of Jane Austen on my desert island. (Plus a TV, DVD player and a generator so I could watch all the dramatisations of these three collections!)

    • I am very glad you “waffled on” Anji! Very insightful. Your comment reminds me of those lists of “books that have to be read before you die” that circulate around every so often. Or the Top 100 Best Novels Ever Written kind of lists. I have looked them over with a mixture of pride that I have read quite a number of them, disgust at some titles that make these lists, and shock at the novels that aren’t mentioned. In far too many cases I either have read the so-called “classic literature” and hated it, or have absolutely no desire to attempt reading it. I mean, why tackle a tome written two hundred years ago filled with tragedy and difficult to comprehend language when I can enjoy a sweet romance or action-packed fantasy?

      • In 2003, here in the UK, there was a BBC TV series, called The Big Read, that asked the people of the country to nominate and then vote on their favourite novel of all time. If I’ve done things right, there should be links to the website following:


        It’s an interesting list to say the least, with modern and “classic” literature all getting a look in. It’s one of the very few TV phone vote programmes we’ve ever taken part in. I was very much torn as which to vote for and I only ever considered two of the candidates, LoTR and P&P. Hubby chose LoTR and after much angst, so did I with profound apologies to Jane Austen.

        It’s also a product of it’s time as you’ll see if you look at the list. The final three Harry Potter books hadn’t yet been published and there is a lot of Terry Pratchett’s work.

        Maybe this list is a better reflection of what “ordinary” people consider literature compared to what so-called experts say in their list of top 100s or Books To Read Before You Shuffle Off This Mortal Coil!

        Sorry, more waffle!

        • How cool is that list? Love it! I agree with your hubby (sorry Jane) but would have to vote for LOTR as well. I was pleased to see the number of newer generation novels in there. That is how it should be! Why wait until a book is a hundred years old and the author long dead before declaring it a masterpiece worthy of “classic literature” status? And by all means sci-fi/fantasy novels by Rowling, Frank Herbert, and Pratchett (who I LOVE) should be on the list.

  9. Hello from a historical romance author. I haven’t haven’t had the chance to read Game of Thrones yet but I sure am addicted to the show on HBO. I have read the Hunger Games books and absolutely loved them. I don’t think the movies did the books any justice, though.

  10. What immediately comes to mind when I think of literature is, like you said, classic novels. Of course I don’t define that as literature really but after going through 16 (i think?) years of school now I’ve always had that impression made upon me when discussing ‘literature’. However now a more prominent thing that comes to mind since I am interested in the sciences is peer reviewed papers. Referencing “literature” on a specifically researched topic is a thing I’ve been hearing a lot recently and for awhile it was a strange conflict occurring in my mind. But can’t literature really be anything written with the purpose to effect someone or something? Even that sort of definition doesn’t feel like it’s encompassing enough while at the same time being too broad. We had this discussion in my literature class in college and it’s interesting how hard it is to define.

    • Thanks for your insights, Megan. It is very hard to define, I think. One problem, as I see it, with the “classic” aspect to what is literature is that a novel does not become a classic until several generations have passed. Jane Austen, for instance, was notable in her day, but would any of her contemporaries imagined the enduring quality of her novels? Maybe. But they also might have pointed to a dozen other authors who are now forgotten.

      In this era when stories now appear in a near endless variety of formats (audio, cinema, comics, and so on), how can one presume to point only to a narrow portion of written books as true literature?

      • I have a very personal and easy definition of ” literature”. If it is a book that I can read over and over again, lose myself in over and over again, and when I am finished reading ( No matter how many times I have read it before) I feel a deeper understanding of everything, then that book is literature. If I read a book and put it down afterward with no desire or need to pick it up again, that is just a book.

        • Awesome! That definition is the simplest, yet covers individuality. One person’s “literature” may be just a book to another, but in the grand scheme nearly all books will touch someone, thus being “literature” to that person. I like this! Thanks Lewis 🙂

  11. I totally agree with you on the literature front, as I am not so much into the hoity-toity reading! I read the Hunger Games trilogy and enjoyed it, but couldn’t bring myself to see them in the movies. I know many enjoy the TV series Game of Thrones but I haven’t ventured there.

    Enjoyed visiting.

    • Hi Kathryn! Thanks for visiting and for commenting.

      I saw the first two Hunger Games movies before reading the books. Naturally the books are better, but I am a very visual person who LOVES movies, so having the images enhanced my reading experience. I am not one who typically has a problem with the variances between a novel and screen adaptation. Except for the Bourne series… Don’t get me started on that butcher job!

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