English is not my mother tongue but I have the feeling I can understand most perfect and I do read books, but sometimes (and actually quite a lot on Twitter) I have the feeling I'm an English illiterate.

When I first read this tweet: "what is your hottest literature take", I assumed something like your hottest take away, i interpreted it positive and was assuming some answers like catch 22 (Fuck catch 22), Ayn Rand (sucks), Hemingway (was big trash). These answers were there, but with a negative framing.

Maybe a stupid question but how should this question be read and where is the negativism coming from, or is this just slang which can be learned from growing up English speaking?

  • I don't follow where the negative framing is coming from. Barring any more context, I would interpret the question in one of two possible ways: (1) What's your opinion of the most popular literature? (2) What literature are you most passionate about? I don't see either of those as involving negativity. – Jason Bassford Jul 7 at 7:38
  • did any of the “surprising” answers provide any explanations as to why they chose what they did? That could help us to understand how they’ve understood the meaning. – Jim Jul 7 at 7:44

I think I know where the negativity comes from. When you’re a native English speaker, "great" literature is usually defined by your teachers. That is, people who have enough experience of reading to understand that these old books are the best of their time and still relevant today. But publishing has become easier over the years and there are many good books around these days, many more of them more relevant today than the "greats" of literature. A few of them even make it on to the syllabus, but teachers usually pick one at least old "great", because they’ve taught it a few times before and understand it well.

The important thing to understand is that "greatness" is bestowed on books by someone other than you. And people far prefer to read books they have chosen themselves. So, at school, we’re forced to read these "great" books at the expense of books we would choose ourselves. A fair few of my classmates would have chosen graphic novels over Lewis Grassic Gibbon ("Sunset Song" was on my exam reading list, I read "Catch 22" on my own and it is far better!). Hence the negativity. You’re forced to learn a particular take on a book because that will get you marks in the exam. You don’t have to agree with it.

Disclaimer: I’m in the UK and have a UK Education. Other countries may differ. I know most people developed a district dislike of books they had to study, even when they did study great stories.


Wikipedia explains:

Hot take

In journalism, a hot take is a "piece of deliberately provocative commentary that is based almost entirely on shallow moralizing" in response to a news story, "usually written on tight deadlines with little research or reporting, and even less thought". [My bold]

Also: Where Do 'Hot Takes' Come From?, and hot take:

a quickly produced, strongly worded, and often deliberately provocative or sensational opinion or reaction (as in response to current news)

  • Thanks & note to self: always refer to the root when googling for superlatives (ie hot take vs hottest take) – dr jerry Jul 7 at 9:09

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