Hello, my name is Michelle, and I am a book snob. It is not something about which I am proud. After all, if I am truly an advocate for literacy, it shouldn’t matter what everyone else reads. Yet, I cannot help but laugh with disdain when I see someone reading Steve Berry or roll my eyes when someone raves about anything having to do with Fifty Shades of Grey. I am ashamed to admit that I do judge people by the books they read. I don’t like being this way. In fact, I never meant to be this way, but like so many other addictions, it was a long slippery downward slide to this point.
You see, I wasn’t always a book snob. Growing up, I, like most book lovers, read everything I could. If it had words, I read it. There was no discerning among authors, genres, or even age appropriateness. Tom Clancy, Danielle Steele, Christopher Pike, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Michael Crichton, Robert James Waller – they all made my reading list in my younger years. I devoured them all because I needed words to fill my soul like fish need water.
My problems began, as is so often the case, with college. Through two amazing comparative literature courses, I discovered the world of classics. Thomas Hardy, Cervantes, James Joyce. Henry Fielding – they became my poison. Their words rocked my world, and I could not get enough. From that moment forward, I refused to read anything unless it was written prior to 1970. Books most people would scoff at reading for pleasure, I adored. The darker and more convoluted the writing, the more I relished the story. There was no reason to read anything found on a bestseller list because there was so many amazing novels by dead authors left to read.
Turning thirty shocked me out of my fascination with old novels. At the same time, I also started blogging, focusing on writing reviews and sharing my thoughts on books I read. While I could have become a niche blogger, focusing on classic literature and all of those “100 Books You Must Read Before You Die” lists. However, showing some level of maturity I am still surprised to find I possess, I opted to branch out and start reading novels published recently. After all, I was looking for a new challenge, and what better way to challenge myself than to read something completely new?
While blogging, I espoused all the right phrases. Read to explore the world. Reading is the best form of travel. It doesn’t matter what you read as long as you read it. I did, and still do, know that to read is to learn, and that is the greatest prize of all. After all, I made the switch to reading today’s authors and discovered just how amazing they are. Classic, modern, old, young, dead, alive – one can find outstanding literature from any era, from any author.
You would think that this growth as a reader would make me less exclusive a reader. It has not. While the list of authors I will read is now too lengthy to recite without extensive notes, there are still certain authors whose work I would never touch. It is not that I consider it beneath me to read these authors – well, at least for most of them. I’m looking at you, E. L. James. It is not that they write terrible novels, I don’t think. There is just something about reading them that makes my hackles rise. The more popular they are, the less likely I am to read them.
Call it selective reading. Call it exclusionism. Call it what you will. I can finally admit that I am a book snob. I like to hope that there is room in this world for all types of readers and plenty of authors to go around, so my book snobbery does not impact anyone but me. After all, this is the best part about literacy. People can read what they want for whatever reasons. So go ahead and read your James Patterson and your Debbie Macomber. Read as often as you can. Celebrate books. Just don’t make me read anything by Nicholas Sparks.