9.29.2011

what I thought when my husband called me a book snob

I read this article the other day, and it gave me a lot to think about. You see, a few weeks ago Josh and I were at Powell's with one of our friends. This friend asked me what I thought of a particular author, and I promptly proceeded to vilify this writer's work. Josh rolled his eyes and said, "Charlotte, stop being such a book snob."

At first I was affronted, because I like to consider myself a pretty objective reader. I'll typically give any book a chance, and then I feel like I have the right to hate it if I want. I also think that I've read enough books of all kinds to be able to assess the writing quality of a book, good or bad. Somehow I feel like I've earned that right through my reading and schooling.

Then I thought that maybe I lashed out against this particular author a little too harshly. Not that I'm rethinking any of my opinions, because really, I loathe this author's work and its popularity, but I should rethink how I express some of these opinions. So maybe, in some way I am a book snob.

So here's the thing, I have the right to like or dislike anything I want, especially if I give it a fair try, and everyone else has that same prerogative. I may or may not have a secret list of books that I use to assess a reader's literary acumen (you know, those books that if they don't like or dislike it as much as I do I judge them), but at the heart of it, I love people who read for the love of reading, even if that means they don't love the same books I do.

So the next time someone asks me about an author I have distaste for, I'll swallow the judgment fighting to break through and express my opinion in a way that isn't snobby. I'll make sure that I value my friend's opinion better and not belittle his thoughts or assessments. When it comes down to it I'd rather be a bibliophile who loves to talk books than a snob who seeks to sneer at them.

And no, I won't tell you the author I disparaged.

7 comments:

hannah said...

Does she live in Arizona?

Jill said...

I'm guessing S.M. or D.B. and I make the same judgments!

A Mitton said...

Between your post and the article I'm reminded of an anecdote:

As an ELang major, I spent a great deal of time vacillating between my prescriptive editor mode and my descriptive linguist mode. I LOVE linguistics, particularly sociolinguistics, and even more particularly the way people's attitudes are influenced about others based on the dialects they hear. I did two major studies about this and was dating a boy who HATED the idea that he might be influenced by a person's accent. He very unwillingly participated in my study and thought he was above it. However, he was an RM who'd gone to Portugal and at least three times a week would complain to me about the Brazilian Portuguese speakers in his Portuguese class. HE WAS DOING THE EXACT SAME THING IN PORTUGUESE THAT HE SAID HE DESPISED IN ENGLISH. And it irritated me to no end—people should just own up to the fact that they have opinions about things that will at times seem (or actually be) judgemental. There's nothing wrong with being a book snob. Or a prescriptivist.

Except when you won't actually admit that you are.

michelle said...

Such interesting thoughts, Charlotte. I am totally a book snob, and I do tend to judge people by the books that they do or do not like. Oops. I'd rather be a bibliophile than a snob, too.

p.s. my usual targets: Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks...

April said...

I often do this with music. My training has haunted my opinions; I try to temper them...usually unsuccessfully...

Ashley said...

I love to read. And I am always surprised when people tell me they don't love to read. I must admit, I totally judged them.... I have then decided that they just haven't "read the right book".

I try to remember awful writers, right now, are getting people to read. And I love that.

puffkix said...

I think it's important to remember that authors are more than just a name on the cover of a book. They are, or were, living people that had the ability, or at least the luck, to make a living doing what they enjoyed.

Despite the number of books you read I don't think it's truly possible to be in the right if you put yourself above somebody that is published, especially if you're not. And if you are: then it's important to have some professional courtesy.

And I think the same can be said of movies, music, visual art, or any other medium used for artistic and often personal expression.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...