First of all, just going to mention that my discussion posts are now under the title “Let’s Talk…” I just got a bit bored of writing “discussion post” at the beginning of every post every week, so let’s make it more interesting 🙂
This topic…oh this topic.
It’s a topic that bothers me more than it should. But it’s been mentioned SO many times lately, and I just can’t help but put my own thoughts out there. The amount of times I’ve ranted on other people’s blogs about this, surely it’s about time I actually gathered all my thoughts together and made my own discussion about it.
As you can probably guess, this post is going to be a long one, so buckle up and enjoy!
What is book snobbery?
It’s when someone – usually another reader – judges you for what you read. The sort of people who feel like everyone should read classics, and every other book isn’t as sophisticated, enthralling, intelligent, educational…
The sort of people you’d be ashamed to admit what you’re reading, because it’s likely they’d just dismiss you, like you can’t have an intelligent conversation about books.
But there’s also lowkey book snobbery too. This isn’t as noticed, because these people don’t judge other people for what they read…but instead they judge themselves. These people feel like they have to read classics in order to feel more valued, or to have a refined reading taste. To feel like they won’t be judged, even though they themselves don’t think reading other books is less valuable.
I feel like I say this all the time, but I cannot stress it enough:
No matter what you read, reading anything is better than reading nothing.
You learn from every single book you read, whether you realize it or not.
Think about the topics that are discussed in the books we read today. With every book we read, we learn more about mental health, feminism, LGBT+, personalities in general, society, how to handle situations, education….and endless list of topics are discussed. And as I learnt from my Literature classes last year, most classics were written at a time when even merely mentioning anything along the lines of equal rights or LGBT+ (etc) would be considered taboo. So the only thing you learn about those sort of topics in classics…is that the Victorian era didn’t discuss them?
And yet somehow, because classics are the genre that are used in schools, colleges, universities, you name it…because they’re the books used for educational purposes, they’ve somehow received a higher status. Classics are still fiction…so what’s the difference between that and YA (for example)? They’re worded differently?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got absolutely nothing against classics. I’m even trying to get myself to read more of them, and slowly build up my collection.
The problem I have is when people feel ashamed to admit what they’re reading, because it doesn’t sounds as intelligent saying “I’m reading Throne of Glass, it’s a young adult fantasy!” when you could be saying “oh yes I’m reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte!”
My own experience
I remember last year while studying Literature, my teacher asked me and my friend what we were reading. She would constantly say that we should be reading outside of class, since we were Literature students, and seemed thrilled when my friend and I actually said “yes” when she asked if we were reading another book outside class. And yet when she asked the title, and she didn’t recognise it…she sort of sniffed and said “oh…” then recommended a bunch of classics and poetry to me. I remember myself physically deflating. I love talking about the books I’m reading (obviously), so to be dismissed so quickly because the book wasn’t as recognizable as the classics…left me in a bad mood all day.
It didn’t change my opinion though. I still read the books I want to read, rather than the ones I “should” read, in the eyes of those few people.
And I do admit that I feel slightly more accomplished when I read a classic. And some of this might be because of the everyday book snobbery we see. But I feel like now, it’s more because I’ve set it as a personal challenge to read more classics, like I have with contemporaries.
How is reading ever a bad thing?
Doesn’t it seem a bit contradictory for people to be saying “everyone should read!” and then turn around and say “wait, you’re reading that? Oh…”
I’ve learnt more about Greek and Roman mythology from Rick Riordan’s middle grade novels than I have from the mythology related Little Black Classics I’ve read.
Reading is a hobby. Think of it this way: No one would judge an artist for the things they like to draw. So why judge readers for what they like to read? At least they’re reading!
Whether you want to read YA, Fantasy, Contemporary, SciFi, Non fiction, Fiction, Historical, Classics, or ANY genre, read for you. There shouldn’t be a pressure to read certain things.
Granted, most of the reading community don’t judge what you read. Most of us are lovely people who are just thrilled that there are others out there who love books just as much as we do. But it’s that small minority we’re mentioning today.
When you read, you are reading for your own enjoyment. Read for you. Not for the opinions of others.
Well that was quite a rant!
I applaud you guys who made it through my ranting.
Share your thoughts!
What do you think of book snobbery?
Have you ever witness a case of book snobbery? Have you ever felt devalued for what you read?
Is there any advice you want to give to the people who feel judged for their reading choices?
Do you agree/disagree with what I said?
Join the discussion (or have a rant) in the comments!
Until next time…
Come and visit me!