In Defense of Dabbling
I am a dabbler in a world of fanatics.
This dawned on me very soon after I joined Swoon Reads. It all started with Harry Potter. I grew up reading Harry Potter. My sister and I would preorder the books and devour them in one gulp. And I’ve reread them, too—I’ve probably read each book three or four times. I’ve seen the movies, a few of them more than once.
But can I tell you the motto of each house? No. In fact, I just had to google “Do Hogwarts houses have mottos?” I am a useless member of a Harry Potter trivia team. I don’t even go! I don’t want to bring my team down by confusing Aragog with Buckbeak (and yes, I had to google “Harry Potter magical creatures” to even produce these two names). Over two years of working at Swoon Reads, I have downgraded myself from “Harry Potter” fan to “person who likes Harry Potter.”
I’ve always been this way with books. There are a few books I’ve read over and over—Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Lois Duncan’s A Gift of Magic (I guess I have a Lois thing?), Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. These are old friends whom I feel compelled to visit every few years. For the most part, though, I read a book, I love the book, and I never revisit the book again.
The same goes for movies and TV shows. In the time it took me to watch To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, many of my coworkers had watched it twice, three times, ten times! They had moved on to the fanfic before I even knew what a Peter Kavinsky was. There’s no one type of movie I always go see. I haven’t even seen every Star Wars movie once (I fell asleep when that weird dude was playing a saxophone in Return of the Jedi).
I dabble in music, too. There’s no artist I care that much about. I love certain songs by Cardi B and Drake and Ariana Grande and Billy Joel, but I’m hard pressed to find any one artist that I like enough to see a whole concert of just their songs. I’m basically the person that the “Now That’s What I Call Music” CDs were made for—people who like a dash of this and a sprinkle of that.
Being a dabbler can be fun. I know a little bit about a lot of things—the Boston Red Sox, Survivor, embroidery, RL Stine’s Fear Street series. I’m not really into a few things, but I am sort of into a lot of things. I can always find a shared interest with whomever I’m talking to.
Being a dabbler can also be lonely. How can I hang with a group of friends who love Lord of the Rings when I don’t know an Ent from an Orc? I don’t know any movies by heart. I’d never get a pop culture tattoo... how would I pick just one thing to be into forever?
In the end, I know I’ll never change. I’m a dabbler for life. I’m just wired that way. I can’t watch Gilmore Girls from beginning to end and then restart at Season 1, Episode 1 like some people do. I can’t reread the same books every month or every year or even every five years. I’ll never know the Green Lantern from the Green Goblin (is one of them Ryan Gosling?).
Since I’ll never change, all I can do is hope that my friends will invite me to regular, non-Harry Potter trivia, where I totally slay.
Are you a dabbler or a fanatic? Tell us in the comments below!