Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday's Opinion: Am I A Book Snob?

It's Tuesday!  Time for me to share my opinions!

This week:
Am I A Book Snob?

All avid readers have heard this term before: book snob.  It's often used to describe picky readers, as well as opinionated bibliophiles who judge others based on what they read.  Here's some of the criteria that I think describes a true book snob:

1. You're one of the few people who hate what most people rate very highly (such as Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter, To Kill A Mockingbird, etc.).

2. You criticize popular books and insist upon novels that most people have never even heard of.

3. Your reviews are long-winded lectures that make you sound like a literature know-it-all.

4. You condemn people who love a bestselling novel, saying that they know nothing of good literature.

5. Your critiques sound pompous and condescending

Looking at this list, I guess maybe I a little bit of a book snob.  Just a little bit.  But I'm not a condescending sort of book snob.  I admit I do judge a little when I see what people have read and how they rated it, but I am hardly a know-it-all when it comes to deciding what makes a good read.

Really liked this.
The only real thing I have going for me is that my high and college English teachers had us read some really good stories, and I've used those books as a starting point to help determine what makes a good read.  Those books helped me to develop my own reading criteria.  It's a criteria that is still evolving to this day; some books I loved 4-6 years ago I now find irritating (*ahem* Twilight), while other books that I once wouldn't have the patience for, I was recently able to enjoy (such as Oliver Twist or The Kite Runner).  I find myself to be a bit of a picky reader nowadays; I can't just pick up any book anymore and simply start reading it, and I've learned to rely on recommendations by readers I trust, rather than just blindly anticipate a good novel the minute a book catches my eye.

It's a love/hate relationship...
I also avoid bestseller lists and bestsellers names, such as Dean Koontz, James Patterson,
and Stephen King.  It's only when a bibliophile friend strongly recommends a popular read that I actually decide to pick it up and try it.  I don't trust bestsellers, since they frequently list books that I would normally rate as average.

Now, before I become judged as a snobby book snob, I should assure you that my reading tastes tend to run with popular opinion, rather than the other way around.  If the book was highly rated by most people, chances are I will rate it in a similar way.  I don't always go with the crowd, however.  Bibliophile buddies of mine absolutely loved The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry and The Book Thief, but I was only inclined to rate them within the 3-star range.  People who loved The Hunger Games also The Maze Runner and Divergent, but I couldn't bring myself to rate them higher than 2.5 stars.  As for The Twilight Saga...alas, Twilight fans, I must confess that I no longer love them like I used to.  Don't get me wrong, I was once one of those die-hard fans who went to various midnight releases of both the movies and the books, along with my best friend and her coworkers.  However, within the last couple of years I've discovered that re-reading the books is not as much fun as it used be, and I find myself siding more with the critics of this series rather than with the fans.  If it's any consolation, I still like The Host
seemed to love
Sorry, Twilight fans, but I'm not a huge fan of them anymore.

Yes! Read it 3 times
Always my most favorite!
If you're confused as to what I actually do like, well let's see: I love classics such as Pride And Prejudice, and To Kill A Mockingbird.  I love epic and contemporary fantasy, as well as some YA fantasy (although I tend to be a little persnickety about my YA selections). The Harry Potter Series and Lord Of The Rings trilogy will always be my fantasy favorites.  As for general and contemporary fiction, I'll go for anything that's considered really good, such as The Kite Runner, The Golem And The Jinni, or The Fault In Our Stars.  I feel like my reading preferences have
a wide range; it's just the content of the story that makes me more critical.  I'll go for a good love story, so long as the love is realistic and not too explicit (I'm not a love-at-first-sight kind of girl, and I don't do sex scenes).  I'm all for a creative storyline, so long as the writing and plot development is good too.  And I love good character development, particularly if I develop a strong emotion for one or more of the protagonists.

There's one more thing that I find affects my rating of any story: feminism, and equality in general.  If you look through my Book Favorites section, you'll notice that all of those books have at least one strong, independent, female role somewhere in the story, or it promotes diversity and equality in some way, shape, or form.  I've always been attracted to stories along feminist lines, but this preference has really developed since my college days, back when I learned about racism, white supremacy, and feminism.  I'm a sucker for stories where the woman protagonist is fully independent and can kick some serious butt, or where people rise above the oppression that surrounds them.  It's not something I would consider to be absolutely necessary in a good read, but it is a personal preference, and it's one of the reasons why I no longer like Twilight, and why I really hated 50 Shades Of Grey.

Sorry, not for me.
Just because I didn't like certain books, however, doesn't mean I think everyone should hate them as well.  My judgment of a person doesn't drop simple because they loved a book I absolutely hate.  My main thought is that this person and I have different reading tastes, and I should keep that in mind if I were ever to recommend something to said person.  I would never condemn a person for liking a particular book, nor do I believe people should be condemned for what they like to read.  It's like with different religions; respecting someone else's beliefs is much better than condemning and ridiculing their faith.  I honestly feel that sneering at someone's reading preferences is extremely disrespectful, so as a rule I avoid doing it myself.  I also avoid readers who insist on ridiculing others.  Those people I would consider to be extreme book snobs and therefore not worth my time.

So, all in all, I am a little bit of a snob when it comes to selecting my next read, but I'm not a snob in a way that would be harmful or degrading to others.  Book snobbery isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just something that has a certain limit to how far you can go with it.  Respecting the tastes of others will preserve their ability to do the same with you.  So be mindful, folks.  Our opinions on good books are simply opinions, and not a statement of fact.

Happy reading everyone!
-Lisa the Dancing Bookworm

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! And I'm probably a bit of a book snob, too. Especially when it comes to bestsellers. If more than five people I know are reading the same book and they aren't part of a book club, I usually don't end up reading it. With the exception of Gone Girl, which I actually LOVED! I didn't read the Twilight books until well after the movies were out and I only made it through 2 chapters of the 4th book before I finally just couldn't take it anymore. And I despise 50 Shades of Grey for several reasons but I understand why so many people loved that book and Twilight and several other books that I turn my nose up at. I try my best not to criticize or ridicule someone's book choices, even if I do make jokes about the actual books. Besides, I'm ridiculously obsessed with all things chick-lit and I have an affinity for smut so who I am I to judge, eh?