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May 1, 2010 / thatsarahdean

Two million cab drivers can’t be wrong

First published in Third Way magazine, May 2010. Guest article covering for regular columnist.

Regular columnist Jude Simpson is on maternity leave. By all accounts having a baby is pretty life changing, as anyone who has ever typed Parent into Wikipedia or Googled “What is it like to have children?” can tell you. But it’s not just Jude who is having life changing experiences at the moment, I too have been learning to cope with sleepless nights, an inability to concentrate and an unerring feeling that things will be never be the same again. This is because I have just started reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.

To clarify I am not a moody goth teenage girl. I am thirty-four year old woman. None of my clothes are tie-dyed. I watch Larkrise to Candleford out of choice. I have a pension. And yet I really, really like Twilight.

(NB there are plenty of articles you can read about the pros and cons of Christians reading Twilight and this isn’t one of them. If you want to read one those, just type “ Twilight why don’t Christians calm down, it’s not real” into Google.)

When the third book in the series was reviewed last year on Simon Mayo’s Five Live radio show, a panel of men and women, aged 35 and over, all agreed that it was a well-written and engaging book that they had all enjoyed. However I doubt that on hearing this review the average Five Live audience member pulled over his cab and ran into the nearest Waterstones to snap up the third installment, because let’s face it we don’t just judge a book by it’s cover, we judge the person reading it too.

I am sure we would all be braver with our book choices if the marketing and cover art was a bit less prescriptive. I am definitely a bit embarrassed reading Twilight in public. I feel sure I am being judged by my fellow commuters as some kind of lame “kidult”, someone emotionally stunted who refuses to read anything aimed adults, like the Metro for example. (However I should add that I don’t think that the book is not entirely to blame for this scorn, the Hello Kitty hair clips and the fact I am wearing mittens and a duffle coat probably compound this judgement.)

If the covers of Andy McNab’s books looked a bit less warmongering, then more Quakers would read them. If there was a gingham cover on Cormac McCarthy’s The Road it might appeal to yummy mummies, who might find it useful as a post apocalyptic parenting manual. I would gladly read any Christian book, with a cover that confirmed it was neither sanctimonious, boring or really American. However until this happens we need to be braver with our reading choices.

But the fact we are challenged to be thoughtful, compassionate, thoughtful people, seeking to understand and love other people around us. If living a radical and authentic life is it’s about small steps, then choosing a book against type is not exactly earth shattering, but perhaps is a start to radical and authentic living

So next time you are in Waterstones stuck on what to get as your third three for two. I suggest pick the least likely book on the table.Sometimes our faith is about big moves, protest making difference, getting out of our comfort zone.

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