Central Park, New York, Winter, The Skating Pond,
Bridgeman Art Library.
I am functionally illiterate.
I eshew, abjure and even actively avoid those writers who hit the New York Times "best seller" lists.
Some might call this habit a form of reverse snobbery, but when everyone else is shouting whoa and damn and f**king awesome, I get stubborn.
It's my contrary streak. (Where I grew up, streak was the word used to describe an ingrained personality trait. My mother often wrung her hands over this tendency of mine. Poor Mum.)
My juvenile habit toward rebellion has not diminished over the years, it seems, and I continue to resist the automatic and monetary worship of such public gods as Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi (Whatever. I do like his blog) and Neil Gaiman.
It's not that I don't buy new novels or that I never read such writers. I remember the names. Sometimes I will pick up their books second-hand or encounter them in the family book exchange. Because allied with my obstinance is a timid and protective caution. I fear being disappointed. My private enjoyment does not always aligne with public taste (James Patterson being only one case in point.) And I dislike paying top dollar for that disappointment.
However, to make a long story even longer, I recently came across -- by my usual means -- Gaiman's Coraline.
Coraline was described in the New York Times Book Review as "one of the most frightening books ever written." Or so says the blurb on the front.
I read it. It's a lovely story in the vein that children need to know that monsters can be killed. Has a certain Edward Gorey/John Bellairs flavour. I'd recommend it for my grandchildren when they are past the cuddly bunny stage.