Books are my life fuel. I’ll take ’em in many flavours.
Don’t tell me what to read or not read. You may find yourself wearing a book in the most uncomfortable of places.
I love this, from the author, Neil Gaiman,
Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is the gateway drug to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.
Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading… You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.
I can recall many incidences as a child when I was told off by teachers for reading books ‘below me’, too easy or not what the teacher would recommend.
I remained a voracious reader for a while until I got fed up of not following the rules of book snobbery.
Like Gaiman’s concern, I found reading uncool. The books I was ‘supposed’ to be reading because I was in the top set for English didn’t excite me.
I began hiding my copies of books all the other girls were reading when I was at school. Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews and Forever by Judy Blume were deemed satisfactory reading for the masses but not for the gifted students.
I still remember the plots of those two apparently ‘trashy’ novels in detail. Would I read them now? No. Am I glad I read them back then? Yes, and then some. They helped to keep my love of reading flickering in the background.
When I was an English teacher I encouraged my pupils to bring in a variety of reading materials. They made their choices and owned them. I never made a pupil feel ashamed for reading a car maintenance magazine or a Mills and Boon. They may not have been to my taste but I wasn’t the one reading.
Give a child the opportunity to choose what they read and it will create a series of stepping stones to other books. They may never hit the ‘golden target’ of a classic but will the world end if they don’t? No. They will love reading for its own sake.
(Not) Guilty Pleasures
I used to be that person who didn’t tell others what I was reading. When I was an English teacher I didn’t dare tell my colleagues I was reading mainstream crime and thriller fiction. Even as an adult, I was afraid of the book snobs.
I’m ashamed to say I only engaged in conversations about the classics or the latest prize-winning, critically acclaimed novels. Most of the time I didn’t like them, understand them or both. How could an English teacher confess that to other English teachers?
Now I am older I have more confidence to do so. Back then I just wanted to impress the book snobs. Many of us have been there, right?
I wear my reading of the novels sneered at by the book snobs as a badge of honour. I refuse to call them my guilty pleasures because I have no guilt in reading them.
The saying ‘What is one person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure’ holds true.
There are classics in the canon that, in my humble opinion, are bloody awful. If I told an academic that they’d probably have a heart attack.
It is shaky ground you tread when you say an ancient writer, with a novel that has a legacy, isn’t very good. Do you get struck by lightning if you do? Does the spirit of the writer haunt you for castigating their work? Nope. You just feed a book snob. Don’t do it. They are obese from snobbery fodder as it is. Deflate them and tell them you didn’t like it, don’t want to read it, and your opinion is your own. Step back and enjoy the explosive show.
Grab those not guilty pleasures and revel in the innocence of reading for pleasure. Try it. You might fall in love with reading again.
Don’t Fall into the Trap
We can all fall into the reading snob trap if we’re not careful.
How many times have you taken the piss out of Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey? Yes, it seems like light-hearted fun and, no doubt, I will do it again but I’m trying to keep that snobbery in check.
Shut your mouth when your mum reads another romance novel with a bare chested bloke on the front.
Chew your lip when your nan is reading Volume Twenty Billion in the family saga series she loves.
Bite your tongue when your Dad is poring over the tabloids. No, sorry. I’m not perfect. Have a word with your dad, for goodness sake.
Be a reading snob in your head as much as you can. Don’t kill someone else’s reading life.
I write these posts. I don’t always live them. Sue me.*
Over to You
How has book snobbery affected you in your reading life? Has it ever stopped you from reading?
Have you ever been a book snob and learned a lesson from it? Go on, ‘fess up!
What books/genres do you read that others are snobbish about? Do you hide them away or read them openly?
*Please don’t sue me.