I’ve been quoted as saying my grandkids are cuter and smarter than yours. The fact that I’m biased doesn’t mean it’s not true. But since I’m a grandmother, and everyone knows what grannies are like, people aren’t usually offended when confronted with a statement like that. In fact, when the hearers are grandparents too, they smile indulgently and nod, thinking, “Of course she thinks that. But I happen to know mine are far superior.”
Sometimes it’s impossible to be completely objective. But being biased doesn’t necessarily mean we’re wrong; having an intimacy with the subject can give us a deeper understanding and appreciation than someone with little familiarity with it.
Take, for example, Neil Gaiman sharing his thoughts about reading.
Having earned his living at writing for three decades, Gaiman is not an objective observer. As the recipient of numerous international awards—the Newbery and Carnegie Medals, four Hugos, two Nebulas, one World Fantasy, four Bram Stokers, and six Locus Awards, for an incomplete list—it’s fair to assume he enjoys a greater intimacy with books than your average man on the street. Hailed as being one of the creators of modern comics, he’s a prolific author of a variety of fiction and nonfiction prose, poetry, song lyrics, screenplays and dramas, and highly acclaimed journalistic accomplishments. This all puts him in the category of people who know – and especially, people who care – about reading, writing, and books.
Biased or not, when he speaks on the subject, the rest of us would do well to pay attention. And speak he did, on October 14 this year at a lecture for The Reading Agency in London, UK.