Do you discriminate when it comes to books? Like in the world of movies and music, the world of literature can be divided in various ways, one would be the popular books against the less known books. The term popular books connote cliché plots, easy reads, and at times genre specific fiction, while obscure literature connotes some level of intellectuality, award-winning, critically-acclaimed and literary. While your choice of book is an issue of taste, readers judge other readers on the books they read. And yes, some can be harsh.
Before I proceed any further let me say that I was a book snob. This was back in the day when I was trying to look cooler than I was. My book snobbishness however (yes, allow me to put a disclaimer) was passive. I rarely articulate that I don’t read popular fiction unless provoked (some people just like to shove a book to your face). When it came to reading I knew what I wanted and read them. I decline recommendations with as much ease as I can telling the usual “oh, I don’t think I’m ready for such a plot.”
A recent conversation with a friend led to this blog post. I had been reading Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials upon mentioning it; he asked if he should read it. I was quite caught by the question as I rarely recommend books. Anyhow, I just told him he might like to look at it. I knew that he was most likely going to enjoy the trilogy given its proposition. He then said, “we’ll see, it’s not top priority as I try to avoid popular literature.” We then headed towards a conversation on why we don’t read popular literature or why it isn’t top priority. Does this then make him a snob? What makes anyone a book snob?
I’ve read my fair share of bestsellers (i.e Stephen King, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Dan Brown), Romance novels as a dare, and even chic literature. I cannot stand romance novels and chic lit. And I didn’t read Twilight because it felt like YA literature fused with a romance novel. I try to avoid reading popular literature for the simple reason that every time I did, I got disappointed (insert Dan Brown here). However, I did find myself recently reading books like Eat Pray Love, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Steig Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. Which once again left me wondering: Am I really a book snob?
I read these ‘popular books’ because I wanted to make a learned decision and opinion. I didn’t want to say “I hate that Elizabeth Gilbert because she was popular”. I wanted to say “I don’t like her because her writing falls flat (or something along these lines). It’s true, I like reading classics and literary fiction. It’s true I love books that challenge my thoughts, but it is also true that I will read what I want to read (popular or not). Which leads me to conclude that we are all snobs.
The term snob connotes some sort of high handedness, but what do you call someone who upon seeing someone reading a classic (i.e. Dostoyevsky or Anna Karenina) utter “yuck, classics!” if not a snob in her own respect. We all read based on taste. Some read to entertain themselves, willingly settling on what they are comfortable with while some grow in their reading, taking on the challenge to grow as a reader.
Whether or not real snobs exist is up for discussion. Have you met a book snob? Are you a book snob? What books will you never read?
For the fun of it I found this test: What Kind of Reader Are You?
I took the test and here are my results:
If you take the test, do share your results. Post it on your blog and leave your link on our comment box. 🙂
|What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader
|Literate Good Citizen|
|What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz