book snobbery

Posted October 27, 2011 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 16 Comments

I read an interesting article in yesterday’s Huffington Post that reminded me there are people in the world that are different than me. I had totally forgotten about this (apparently large) group of people. 

The writer of this article finds himself surprised — shocked, even — at the fascination with comic books in today’s culture. He is also amazed at the group of people that read about vampires and zombies. The author 

1) questions whether we might be regressing as a culture and 
2) literally uses the phrase “dumbing-down of American culture.”

I was shocked and appalled by this. Perhaps it is because I hang with the bookish-types all the time, but who on earth would consider us to be REGRESSING as a culture because of what we choose to read? I prefer not to think of us as dumbing ourselves down. I’m just happy that we’re all READING. Am I alone in my thinking?

I do feel it important to mention that the writer of the article does not want to insult anyone and has “no quarrel with folks who love and enjoy these categories.” After all, he read them when he was younger. He just doesn’t understand why ADULTS are falling so hard for these genres. (You can find Warren Adler’s article here. I recommend reading it.) 

I appreciate articles like this one, because it reminds me that there are people out there that are not like me. I had forgotten the ones that read the stuff that I might consider boring all the time. People who always read for enlightenment or education or some higher purpose. This is all well and good, but I am not one of those people

I enjoy a good piece of classical literature every now and then. I also enjoy literary fiction and adult fiction and non-fiction and memoirs. I really do love these types of books and would consider reading titles in these genres in a heartbeat if they interest me. Enlightenment and education is good, y’all. However, I don’t read them all of the time, exclusively. That would make me a BOOK SNOB. 

I also love science-fiction and fantasy books, like WHOA. I read to escape — like some of you know — so this is my go-to genre. But I don’t read exclusively science-fiction and fantasy. If I did, I would be a BOOK SNOB. 

I am a Christian and read Christian non-fiction and the occasional Christian fiction. I don’t read exclusively in this genre, because I am not a BOOK SNOB. 

Lately, the biggest chunk of what I’m reading (if you’ll hang with me, I’m gonna tie this all together, I promise) is paranormal and dystopian mixed with science-fiction and fantasy. This is my favorite, but not my one and only. I read adult and young adult titles in these genres. Let me explain why: 

There is NOTHING like reading a book that is so gripping, so exciting that you can barely stand it. Then talking about it with the world — whether your real life friends or your blogger friends or your Twitter friends — with quick words or quick typing fingers. The “OMG!” and “WHAT?!?” conversations about books are the BEST, and these conversations (at least, in my experience) are happening with the paranormal, the dystopian, the post-apocalyptic, the sci-fi, the fantasy books! Zombies and Vampires, Mr. Article Writer. Zombies and Vampires… 

From my experience, these books are so popular because of their WOW factor. And the WOW factor extends from the young adult ages into the adult ages, so even suggesting that we’re dumbing-down our culture is stupid. Even the not-so-great zombie and vampire books breeds bookish conversation, which breeds more reading. 

If the confusion and opinions of the writer of that article mirror those of the world, then I think the world needs to get a grip and move on to some real issues.  

There’s a little something for everyone out there. It’s the same as everyone having their own way of making their coffee or tea, and everyone enjoying their own styles of music. There’s room enough for everyone and their individual reading preferences in this world. Why don’t we spend more time being EXCITED that people are READING then worrying about WHAT people are reading and if it is regressing our culture? I’d happily interact with a reader who is super-duper excited about zombies, vampires, and comics ANY DAY over a stuffy ole’ judgmental reader who only reads classical literature for enlightenment and questions me because I enjoy the paranormal stuff. 

What about you guys? 
Are you BOOK SNOBS? 
Do you stick to one or two genres, 
or do you read just about anything?

Do you think Zombies & Vampires are 
dumbing our culture down? 

I want to know! 

**for the purposes of this blog post, I consider a BOOK SNOB to be someone who stays within  a comfortable genre or two and won’t leave it. they read it for a purpose and usually “don’t read” other types of books. for example:  “i don’t read biographies, non-fiction, or memoirs.” 
**also, being a BOOK SNOB isn’t necessarily a bad thing. it’s actually kinda funny. so don’t be upset with me, okay?! i’m just having fun with this blog post. 

About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


16 responses to “book snobbery

  1. Shoot, I wrote a huge long comment and then accidentally back-paged and it was eaten by the interwebs. Basically, the gist of my comment was AMEN sista! When I first starting blogging I was mainly a literary fiction and classics blogger, and it was so fun for me to discover new genres. However, I lost quite a few followers once I started posting YA on my blog. It makes me sad when people feel the need to limit themselves or look down on people who don't! And I love what you have to say about people ONLY reading for education and enlightenment. I think entertainment is one of our basic needs as human beings. That is why we have folk songs, mythology, and toys. Play is just as important as learning, and books that are "just" entertaining still have value. Too much of anything isn't good, of course, but I think it is silly to say that enjoying something that isn't necessarily highbrow is dumbing down our culture. There have been "non-literary" books in every "literary" period — they just haven't lasted through the ages. And that is okay! They still served a purpose to the people who enjoyed them. Whew sorry that turned into a rant, and I know I"m preaching to the choir! But thanks for writing this post — I think it is needed!

  2. I used to be a total book snob, I only read classics. Now I find I cannot read classics or difficult books all of the time, I like to mix it up with lots of different genres. I even read an occasional romance now and enjoy it. I am glad that I am reading different things and discovering new genres. Great post!!!

  3. I completely agree with everything you say in this post! The main point is that people are reading and the choice of what they read make them anything less or more. I have a few favorite genres, although I generally read all genres. Even if I don't like a particular genre (for example, zombies are really not my thing), I would never downplay someone for reading it, because each person is different and every book/genre no matter how trivial it seems might contain something that will enrich a particular reader. Besides, tastes change – in a few years I might get sick of my currently favorite genre and become a fan of something I wouldn't read now. Also, concerning the change of taste, I think open-mindedness is a prerequisite feature of intelligence and it says something about people limiting themselves reading only one genre and their willingness to learn and broaden their horizons.
    I apologies for such a lengthy comment, I just wanted to say I see your point. Great post!

  4. I'm a snob in the sense that I am proud of the fact I actually read and have a great collection, but not in the sense that "one genre is better than another." More power to those who choose to actually read!

  5. Articles like this make me Sooooo ANGRY! I want to stand up to him, hands on my hips, and say that I am a lover of Literature! I like the "Canon" and I like the "Trash". I love anything that touches my emotions, makes me think harder, makes me laugh or cry. Not all pleasure needs to be taken from a book that you can proudly tell people you fought through.

    Some BookSnobs would do well to remember books like Catcher in the Rye and Huckleberry Finn were banned. Writers like Austen were written off in their day as writers of "trash" for focusing only on the inner workings of Society.

    Has this author read any of the books he's looking down upon? Can he honestly say he has read and not gained satisfaction or enjoyment from a few hours read? Can he not see the book Feed as a chillingly apt portrayal of our current society? Not see the intricacies of the theory behind Delerium?

    I feel bad for this old man. He's lost his ability to try new things. Like his reading taste buds all dried up…

  6. I disagree that reading primarily within one genre makes a person a book snob as being a snob is more about attitude than actions. I rarely (though sometimes) peek out of my fantasy and science fiction, but I harbor NO ill will towards those that read other stuff. If a friend were to passionately recommend something outside my wheelhouse, I'd give it a go. And I'd expect the same when recommending a fantasy title. It's the person that outright refuses to acknowledge the existence or value of a genre they deem beneath them that is the snob.

  7. I love to read books from every genre, but I am especially fond of fantasy and science fiction. Sometimes you need to just read something that you can totally immerse yourself in, and I find that literary fiction and the classics don't quite do that for me.
    I think if anything, genre fiction, or the "less sophisticated" books, do a great job of getting people interested in reading. They're like the gateway drugs of the literary world. Once people start seeing how enjoyable reading is, they'll want to branch out into all kinds of different genres and never want to stop.
    At least, that's how I like to imagine it goes. 🙂

    In short, I agree with pretty much everything you've said, haha. I hate snobby readers.

  8. My mom is a total book snob, which I think is directly responsible for my and my sibling's more…eclectic tastes. When I was younger (back when I couldn't bring a book home without parental permission) I only read classics, christian fiction, historical fiction and cutesy little children's novels. By the time I was twelve, I was burned out on those genres. Then I discovered YA and my dad's action adventure novels. I am not a huge vampire or zombie fan, but I appreciate any book that will let me escape into a new world for a few hours and leave me smiling at the end. I still read and enjoy classics and historical fiction and the others, but YA and the less serious genres let me relax and have fun. Since I started blogging, my literary horizons have broadened exponentially and I am willing to give almost anything a try…it doesn't mean that I will like it, but I will try it. 🙂

  9. Ugh… I hate people who find certain genres "beneath them". I get enough of that in my daily life from people who can't believe I read, enjoy and collect comic books because a) I'm an adult and/or b) I'm a girl.

    I actually start getting sick of the tropes within any one genre, so I have to read a variety of things. Yes, I prefer science fiction, but I also love the Bronte sisters and epic adventure novels. I read to escape. It's fun to escape to all sorts of different worlds.

    I feel sorry for that guy. It sounds like he has little to no imagination.

    I have always regarded fiction for adults as an indispensable endeavor that offers insight into the human condition through storytelling, excites one intellectually and emotionally, and is truly worth the investment of time and concentration.

    Yeah, and some of the best books I've read that offer insight into the human condition have involved spaceships, aliens and intergalactic travel. This guy needs to get over himself.

  10. I totally agree with your thoughts! I love being an eclectic reader – I think it makes it easier to understand a larger swath of people with varied interests. I follow blogs that may exclusively read one genre of books but I never think one genre (in this article's case literary fiction) is greater than another.

    I love me some SF, fantasy and YA (which I think are the genres considered to be "lesser") while still having the mental faculties to enjoy the "more challenging" literary fiction. Bah! There's always gotta be some snobbery 🙁

    Great article to bring up Asheley – what a discussion!

  11. I think that article was a bit rough…I read a lot of YA and honestly I love it. Although I do have to read a handful of contemporary's and adult literature to compensate for the few vamp books I may read. I feel the great mix of adult, ya and classic literature help me stay balanced.

    And frankly I know my reading comprehension is high and those "classic smart" books that are suppose to grow our brains are down right boring, if I want to read a boring piece of literature Ill grab my college textbooks…..

  12. I try very hard not to be a book snob. I have recently started trying to read romance novels. Mostly chick lit, just because erotic romance really is not my cup of tea.

    I read YA novels, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, literary fiction, horror, mystery, non-fiction, memoirs, classics. I don't think I can be a book snob. Lol.

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