Bloggers, Bookshelves and Blackcurrant Jam

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Georgie writes about the book industry, and whether there’s any shelf space left for originality.

There is a lot to be said for the art of writing and the enjoyment of reading: but has popular culture and the growth of influencers diluted the oldest craft and, in turn, the oldest leisure activity? 

It seems that, especially in the last decade, reading as a hobby has fallen in interest drastically, almost a direct correlation between the invention of the smart phone in 2007 and our collective best friend Netflix. But there may be more to the issue. Has the quality of the writing fallen, or is it the mass production of texts from any genre that means we are spoilt for choice?

 ‘Influencers’. What are they, who are they and who gives a shit? It certainly seems that anyone with a laptop can churn out a novel or biopic and it be a national success. Personally, I am someone who believes in the spoken and written word as a near religious experience (or as close to God as my sinner self will ever get) with the ability to transport myself around the globe or up into the stars with a mere description. Do the likes of Zoella and Caspar Lee and their seemingly hundreds of book releases count under this umbrella of fantastic writers and craftsmen, or is the seemingly shallow nature of the ‘Influencer’ destroying the image of great writing?

I want my book shelves to be filled with great novels and tales of lives I will never know and places I will never see

A cursory glance around your local Waterstones or other branded bookshop shows hundreds of versions of novels, biographies, cook books, home economic directories and life guides, but note that none of them ever seem to appear under the staff recommended sections. Now this does not mean to say that these books are not interesting in their own way; I am a keen lover of personal journeys and tales of lives gone by. I have to ask though: does the continuous recital of the human nature really need a narrative and a hard-back cover? 

Books and reading are a wonderful thing to have at our finger tips, however I feel that the consistent onslaught of seemingly pointless texts is potentially, and in some cases literally, hiding texts with social/political importance – note Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race and Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive being pushed to the back of shelves in favour of Tanya Bakes by Tanya Burr. I’m not saying that these books are not good writing, as that would be unfair to the poor ghost writers of whom get no credit, but is the star-studded title of someone with a make-up channel really worth the shelf space and waste of trees in comparison to someone with something important to say?

I want my book shelves to be filled with great novels and tales of lives I will never know and places I will never see and still feel that I spent the majority of my days falling down the rabbit hole knowing every facet of these existences as if they were my own, rather than some pretentious internet celebrity telling me how to make a Victoria sponge with black current jam rather than strawberry.

Georgie Fuhri