Guest Post: Literary Snobbery – Why You Shouldn’t Judge Others on What They Read

I have read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I’m not ashamed to admit it – not really. Yes, I know it is considered to be badly written – and I would have to agree with this – nevertheless I enjoyed it for what it was. Because, let’s face it, it’s not a serious book. It’s literary softcore porn written for mums and the secretly sexually frustrated. A Brief History of Time it is not, nor is it meant to be.

So when a friend, told me I had “bad taste” for reading it, I felt irritated. I’ve read A Brief History of Time – not that any of it really sank in –, as well as other numerous literary classics. I can bloody quote Shakespeare for goodness sake! So why did reading Fifty Shades of Grey suddenly make me a “tasteless reader”?

Everybody has ideas about what constitutes “good taste” and anything that goes against those beliefs is seen as radical, or worse, bad. In this case, Fifty Shades of Grey was not to my friends tastes and because it wasn’t, she couldn’t help but look down at me for reading it. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but cringe inside when she told me that she’d read the Twilight books.

It’s not just books that suffer from this kind of judgemental snobbery though; there are other interests that have even higher levels of snobbery: Music and wine are two fine examples. However, book snobbery – and game snobbery now that I think about it – always catches me off guard, and yet, it’s something that most of us have been guilty of (at some point in our lives.) I really don’t understand. People have differing tastes and those tastes can change depending on their mood, general interests, age, etc, so why do we judge them on it?

Well because like a lot of art forms, books can have a remarkable impact on our lives and more often than not, they leave an imprint on you. Books have a tendency to invoke emotions, teach you new things and enlighten us in a way that still allows for unique interpretation. Meaning that when a book has had a positive impact on us, we want to share that bookish intimacy with others. Equally, if a book had a negative impact on us, we want to warn and protect others from it’s evil/stupid/boring influence. We forget though, that what may have been enjoyable/detestable for us, may not be for the other person.

Next time you want to judge someone for reading something you think is – quite frankly – shit. Think. Maybe it touched them in a way that it didn’t for me? Maybe they learnt something from it that I didn’t? Heck, maybe they don’t think shimmering vampires are complete poppycock. Also, if they didn’t get along with a book that you love then don’t regard them as some kind of dim-witted wheelie bin bandit and don’t try and push them into loving it – even if you do think they are missing out on a phenomenally, life changing, literary experience!

After all, that’s the magic of books. They impart different experiences and/or lessons to everyone; some you’ll enjoy and some you won’t. So don’t judge others for seeing the literary wonder in something that you did not, even if that literary wonder was Twilight…

Lover of fiction and French fries, Cat regularly blogs about social commentary, gaming, beauty and travel on her blog – Follow her Twitter account @thebitchblogs for more funny and ranty goodness.

3 thoughts on “Guest Post: Literary Snobbery – Why You Shouldn’t Judge Others on What They Read

  1. I so agree that people connect with books for a broad range of reasons and it is the value of the connection that is meaningful and while something may not be to our taste or experience, it is well worth acknowledging the meaning it might have for someone else. I do also believe that reading is one of the ways we grow, and hopefully readers will also sometimes read beyond their comfort zones in whatever ways that may take them, broadening empathy and also experiences of what makes good stories and good writing.


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