Bookworm? Music lover? Cinephile?

While listening to a podcast by a couple friends (Feminism & Funeral Potatoes, Episode 14, for specificity’s sake), I was struck by a semi-tangential discussion about being book, music, or film people. I realized that I didn’t know how to classify myself. I mean, it’s not really important or life-changing, but I don’t know whether literature or film more strongly impacts my life (or which has become more intricately woven into the fabric of my existence).

Now, I’m not saying that each individual can be really committed to only one of these three things, but I think it’s an interesting exercise to think through what personally draws me to each of the three and how that influences my life.

Yeah, this feels a bit less lofty than what I usually write about, but it’s been nagging me and I usually find some solace in writing through my feelings and thoughts, so here we are.

The act of introspection is interesting and complicated (for me at least). I struggle to choose things in situations like this or for those insignificant and often silly personality quizzes or get-to-know-you questionnaires. I just want my answers to be completely accurate and the best possible reflection of who I am, which can result in my responses being oddly detailed to the point of extreme weirdness (and hopefully hilarity and accuracy). So, when faced with trying to determine whether I’m more of a book, music, or film person, I’m deeply conflicted. Maybe this seems easy for you to answer about me, and if so, share please, but I’m torn.

I’m pretty confident I’m not a music person. I enjoy music. I play a bit (piano, trombone, euphonium, and bongos). I love a good concert (Streetlight Manifesto is amazing, Muse’s show from a technical standpoint is phenomenal, Neon Trees are fabulous). I know all sorts of random tidbits about bands and albums and such and love learning about the behind the scenes connections and goings on (ex. Van Halen had a line in their contract about a bowl of M&Ms being placed in their prep room, but that all the brown M&Ms needed to be removed). Yet, music is not the thing that gives me life. I find joy in it, but it’s not like the end all, be all for me (which it is for a couple of my friends).

Now here’s where it gets complicated: books or film?

BOOKS

I love to read. I love books. The dominating feature in my dream house for as long as I can remember is a massive library, with sliding ladders, spiral staircases, comfortable window seats, etc. I didn’t and don’t really need anything else—that’s still the defining aspect. Throughout my life I would spend the summers reading. No school, so I just read. All the time. Same with Christmas breaks.

I’m studying English literature at BYU, where I continue to read all the time, although I have a tendency to lose sight of the pure pleasure reading that sparked my love affair with books (something I’ve been able to regain a bit while living in England for the summer and has been absolutely marvelous). I’m looking into graduate programs now for pursuing a Ph.D. in literature (likely Victorian, but we’ll see) and plan on being a university professor, making books my work-life. Not to mention that I’m spending the summer doing research on poetry and the writings of Dorothy Wordsworth, talking with people everyday about William Wordsworth and his poetry…a pretty solid, book-lover thing to do, if I do say so myself.

I would be lying if I denied that part of my wish for being a book person is that I think of books as being a more sophisticated love than movies (which isn’t inherently true, there are trashy, rubbish books, just like there are trashy rubbish films). I mean, everyone loves movies. And the image associated with people that say they love movies is not one that I necessarily want to emulate (even though I am an unabashed movie lover, but I tend to think of myself as more of a ‘film lover’ than a movie lover. A semantic difference, but one that allows me to express my snobbery). But there’s a sort of inherent sophistication that I find associated with being a book person. If you are defined by books, then you may be a bit aloof, perhaps absent-minded, but almost without fail of a higher sophistication than the movie and music crowds.

FILM

While I have been a voracious reader for most of my life, I have also been a movie addict. Film has been a huge part of my life and is linked with family activities, as for as long as I can remember we would gather as a family, eat pizza, popcorn, and root beer (maybe that’s why I love all those things…) and watch a movie, Friday or Saturday, or sometimes both, night(s). So, both books and film go back as far as I can remember, one an activity that I engaged in on my own, while the other has been a non-social, social activity (perfect for me, allowing social engagement without the energy loss that usually comes with it).

I don’t know when I started (maybe as early as 1999, with The Phantom Menace), but for quite some time, I’ve been entrenched in the film world, keeping up on all the news (for awhile that was celebrity related, although I’ve stopped reading much of that, still knowing much of it due to headlines around) of movies that are coming up and loving to gather bits of trivia much like I do for music (my film store of useless facts probably dwarfs my amount of music-related bits).

I’d happily watch a film every night and don’t see a problem with that (unlike some of my friends who always talk about doing something different for the weekend before we almost inevitably end up watching a movie).

I likely incorporate more film references into my everyday vocabulary than I would literary references, although some of that is due to an assumption that more people would be aware of the film references than the literary ones (an assumption that is challenged on occasion when a friend has no idea what I’m talking about as I reference things that I thought were classics that everyone knew of, even if they hadn’t seen them, ie the Smurfs, Rocky, Gumby, Hook, etc.).

VERDICT?

I want to walk the line between the books and film, getting the best of both worlds, but I think deep down I know that if push came to shove, I’d be a film guy.

My studies in literature have only helped to enhance my love for books and film and to enable me to more critically and intelligently engage with both (in other words, allow me to be as snobby and pretentious about film as I could be about books, so that’s a win). And, don’t get me wrong, I love reading and will be a reader until I die (or go blind and lose my fingers making it impossible to read braille), but film is the thing that I come back to over and over as I interact with others. Maybe that’s the power—film enables me to connect with people in a way that I wouldn’t if I just read.

I’m not sure what the value is in determining where you fall among the three camps I laid out, but it was nagging me about myself. I think introspection is useful, even when it’s turned to silly things like whether you are a music, book, or film person. The ability to look at yourself and separate what you are from what you want to be and analyze the whys is valuable. Also, separating people into categories is a form of judgment and we all know how I love to judge people

Curious to know if people agree with my self-assessment and where they would place themselves, so share away.

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4 thoughts on “Bookworm? Music lover? Cinephile?

  1. I think this is brilliant. First, I think your self-assessment is quite accurate—given your comments in person and on your blog, I think your love for movies exceeds your love for books. If only slightly. Indeed, I think you might even be a film studies professor if that could possibly be taken as seriously (and be as rigorous) as a literature professor. Second, I’m pretty sure that I am a book person. I love movies (or I should say, I deeply love a small number of movies and am mildly amused by most others). But the history and culture behind literature fascinates me, the way everything links to past works and goes back into the beginnings of civilization. And I love the solitude of reading—it fills me. And the deep richness you can find in the length of a book.

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    1. Thanks. I’m glad that my thoughts seem to be accurate in the eyes of others. The history and culture behind literature is indeed fascinating–the links between different authors and works and the conversations taking place are some of my favorite things to learn about (I recently read ‘Wordsworth and the Victorians’ by Stephen Gill, which is all about how Wordsworth was shaped and incorporated into the Victorians work. A brilliant book and definitely worth checking out for a specific example of links between Wordsworth and other writers). And totally with you on the joys of the solitude of reading. There is something beautiful in being lost in the pages of a book for hours, alone with the characters and events of a new, different reality.

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  2. Ugh I feel your pain, but I also have another one to add to the mix: TV. I hate that I love TV so much since everyone knows that the silver screen is more prestigious, but I can’t help it. Recently I’ve been pretty detached from film, and I will almost always choose to watch a few episodes of a show over a movie. My love of literature is a solitary passion–if I’m reading leave me the hell alone, but when I love a TV show I will drop everything and be with another person so I can watch them experience what I’ve experienced. You’re calling me at midnight to come over and watch an episode of Catastrophe? Just let me put on some pants and I’ll be right over. You make a passing reference to The West Wing? Let’s move in together. And don’t get me started on people who have never seen an episode of Parks and Recreation. I would watch that show with anyone. Literally anyone.

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    1. Haha, glad that I am not alone. TV’s interesting and for a long time wasn’t something that really figured in my world. However, the discovery of Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Daredevil, Agent Carter, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer has challenged that. Interestingly for me, TV shows have played both a solitary and communal role, where I have watched with friends, which can be absolutely painful as I need to wait to watch until friends are ready. It seems that TV can inspire a much stronger fandom than films (perhaps due to the time that is spent with the characters of multiple seasons and years, unless you’re binging after the fact).
      Parks and Rec is hilarious. Way back when it first started, I thought it was lame, except for the incredibly catchy theme song. I have since seen the error of my ways and appreciate its feminist genius and simply wonderful characters. The West Wing is a fantastic piece of television, with some of the greatest dialogue to grace the screen. Also, filled with wonderful characters (Josh and CJ and Pres. Bartlet and Toby–man, I love Toby). The struggle is real. SO MUCH MEDIA. How can I consume it ALL????

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