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.
I can definitely be a book snob, but I’ve gotten better about keeping it to myself. Like, there are authors I don’t want to read because I know what they’re doing won’t work for me. Good writing is huge when I pick out books, so anything where the writing isn’t great I just won’t like. For a long time, I assume that books in certain genres — romance, young adult, mystery, etc. — all weren’t well written, so I ignored those genres. Since starting to blog, and being more open to recommendations from other people, I’ve gotten great suggestions in those genres I was a snob about and now I think I appreciate them more. But I can still be pretty finicky about books… and I think that’s ok 🙂
Kim – it is okay. I think being finicky or a book snob are just ways to limit ourselves and the number of books we read. Otherwise, we would just be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of possibilities. Of course, we already are to some extent. LOL!
thanks for saying this aloud. I am definitely a book snob as well. I used to work in a library. One day, I was almost ashamed I never read any book by these authors, not the last one you mentioned, but that type, and it;s unbelievable the number of copies my library has to order for each of these books. So I tried one. OMG that was so awful and so badly done that I know I’ll never again waste my time on these
Exactly. I’d rather read an obscure but well-written novel than a pop culture hit that is a poor example of literature. It may fit others’ needs and desires, but I’m too picky.
I think I’ve become book snobbish since becoming a book blogger. A few years ago I only read Sparks and chick lit but have since expanded my literary horizons and am much snobier or shall we say, choosier now. That being said, I don’t think I will ever read 50 Shades. 🙂
LOL! I think because we have exposure to so many more books and genres that it is only natural we become more selective in what we chose to read. If that makes us a book snob, then so be it!
I am a book snob too. There are many authors I will never read, but I am glad that they are reading, even if it is not my taste. The beauty of life is there are so many choices, something for everyone. I often find myself talking with someone who is gushing over a book with an author I would never touch. ( all of which you mentioned). I nod my head, say I have never read it – while thinking and never will.
Yep! That’s what I do too. “Oh, sorry. I haven’t gotten around to that one yet.” It is a common phrase because I just love seeing people read.
This is funny, Michelle. I think that we are all like that to some extent, but I mostly like to see people reading anything of their choosing. I just hated seeing grown women wearing “team Jacob” shirt. Now that I don’t get. Swooning over a book teen feels like something really weird.
I am working my way through 100 Books You Must Read… I have the book and make notes as I go along. I have discovered some amazing reads that I might of not discovered without challenging myself to read from the list.
I will admit that as much as I won’t read certain authors, I do appreciate the fact that others will read them. I love seeing people reading, even if they are reading something I wouldn’t. We need more readers in this world.
I have read a majority of the books on the 100 Books You Must Read list. You are correct; there are some amazing books on that list!
Ha funny. The Nicholas Sparks comment got me laughing. I go thru different moods of reading. Sometimes I need a thriller and sometimes I need a solid literary read. It’s a flux. But there’s stuff I stay away from …
Yep! Notice I did not say that I in any way limit which genres or the number of books I read. I really need to do that more because that is how I get in ARC trouble.
Love this – you made me laugh. And I am a snob in some of the same ways as you are: no 50 Shades, no Sparks, though I did read one of his while in college. In high school I read nothing but Danielle Steel, Amanda Quick, oh, the trashy romances! I don’t think I am currently as picky as you are, but I do shy away from the mass-produced work of a James Patterson, or the terribly written junk of an E.L. James. I like a good story, but I also love beautiful writing. When the two coincide – it’s magic.
You say I’m picky?!? I’ll admit to steering away from mass-produced works, but that is about where my selection process ends. I get swayed too easily by a well-written synopsis and interesting subject matter.
I guess I should clarify – not picky about what you read, but more discerning about what you like. There have been books that I thought were pretty good that you really didn’t like at all. 😛
Ah, gotcha. I agree!
OK, here’s what I think. We are all book snobs. All of us. Just about different aspects of the wide, wide world of books. I used to really be bothered by the ‘snobs’ who looked down on anything not ‘classic’ or ‘literary’ (sorry, Michelle). It bugged the heck out of me. However, I realized that I too have certain types of books that I make assumptions about or make assumptions about the readers of such. (yes, add me to the 50 shades detractors – I’m ashamed, but there it is) Now, I feel that we are all readers. And every book is not for every reader. And aren’t we happy about that. If Patterson is your thing – good for you. If 50 shades floats your boat, grab an oar. If you love sci fi or fantasy or classics or romances or plain old ordinary ‘contemporary literature’, bravo!! If you love YA or only read non-fic. I have met all of you when I worked for the library system. And heard all your comments about other types of books. I’d nod my head and think, “Ah, if you would all just pick up a nice serial murder book, your life would be complete.”
Oh, did I not say? I’m a mystery/crime fic reader. Those hold my heart. Not completely, but most of it. And the older I get, the more I seem to want to bury myself in nice, lovely murder. LOL LOL
LOL! Exactly! We ARE all book snobs in our own way. We have to be. There are too many books out there for us not to gravitate towards one particular genre or author. It is the best way to shorten the list of all the books we want to read, don’t you think?
Your parents are apparently taking care of most of the authors that you wouldn’t read.
And that is perfectly okay. Reading is reading.
Sadly, I must also admit my snobbery to some extent. I tend to scoff at any book where the author name is in a bigger font than the title. (Unless it is Uncle Stevie, of course.)
I like how you put this for that is exactly what I do when I see that on any book. Uncle Stevie and Nora Roberts are my two exceptions.
I love your honesty and that last line cracks me up! I used to be obsessed with Sparks and have outgrown him over the years. Now I have no interest in reading anything he releases. It’s funny how tastes change over the years.
I am really glad we’ve been able to become friends despite my love of certain books I know you wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole (*cough* Fifty Shades *cough*). Like you said, the beauty about reading is we can all enjoy a vast array of genres, and all that really matters is we are reading and enjoying it. I tend to go through phases and when I used to be obsessed with New Adult a few years ago, I’m finding recently that I have no interest in those books. I’m gravitating towards a totally different type of book and that’s okay with me. I read whatever my heart desires, and I love that I can try new things any time I want.
I used to be a book snob when it came to historical fiction, any type of historical fiction. I’ve recently started to change my tune and actually enjoy the genre, having only tried a few books so far.
Thanks, Brandie! See? Pro-50 Shades people and anti-50 Shades people CAN be friends! If there is hope for us, there is hope for peace on earth. 😉
You hit the nail on the head. Tastes change along with experiences and wisdom. We should never limit ourselves to certain authors just because they happen to be on the bestseller list.
As for historical fiction, you really need to try All the Light We Cannot See. So, so good.
Hey, there ain’t no shame in knowing what pushes all the right buttons for you! Of course it would be great if none of us judged each other on anything at all, but it’s not really how the human mind works. So long as you aren’t scoffing in people’s faces about their reading choices, then I think you’re in the clear. (I’m also a bit of a book snob, so take this reassurance how you will!)
On another note, it’s awesome that you expanded beyond classics. To be sure, there are enough classics to keep anyone busy for a lifetime, but it’s also fantastic to know that you *can* find joy in more modern literature. Plus, you’ve probably made a wider circle of blogger friends than you might have had you decided to start a more niche blog.
Thanks for sharing!
I try not to scoff to people’s faces. Some days and some people make it more difficult, but I truly do believe that as long as people read, what they read is trivial. I just won’t wax poetic on your favorite author if the author’s name is in larger font than the book title…well, except for a select few.
I am so glad I expanded beyond classics too. Modern literature is every bit as important as classical literature and says something about our culture. I have read more amazing books since I shifted focus that have been just as life-changing as Gone With the Wind or Atlas Shrugged.