DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
May 9 2017

Are You A Book Snob?

by Camille B

Book Snob 2Several months ago I picked up a Harlequin Romance to casually browse its back cover. It had been several years since I’d read one, and I associated them mainly with my teen years and early twenties, so I didn’t really expect it to hold my interest.

Well! Wonder of wonders if I didn’t find myself completely drawn into the first few pages of the book-all the while telling myself that I was going to put it down just as soon as I discovered what Prince Rihad’s brother was up to. Of course I was only kidding myself, and I ended up reading it to the very end.

Sadly, it was like eating a can of Pringles. I couldn’t stop myself from reading another, and then another, and pretty soon I was out in the stacks hunting for them, making neat little piles on my desk and searching Amazon for sequels to the ones I’d already read. It was like there was some sort of romance-sized hole inside of me that I was trying to fill.

The problem, however, was that even though I was enjoying this new secret indulgence, it was just that, a secret. I found myself hiding my book every time I’d bump into a friend or co-worker which seemed really silly. It’s not like there were naked people all over the front covers.

But I think that on some level a part of me knew that my “lighthearted books” would probably be met with some raised eyebrows from those who were more literary minded. After all, to be taken seriously as a reader you have to read “serious books” right?

First of all, I don’t believe all serious readers are necessarily “book snobs.” I know there are readers who enjoy and appreciate great literature and the classics, but they would also read any good book regardless of its genre. These readers would never judge others who don’t share their literary preferences.

On the other hand, true book snobs are those individuals who have an aversion to anything they consider to be light or fluffy writing. I imagine their idea is: The Great Gatsby- yes, yes, yes and The Hunger Games- not so much. They would rather be burnt at the stake than caught reading The Twilight Saga in public, and they would consider any book that hasn’t won a Pulitzer, made an appearance on the New York Times Best Seller’s List or been recommended by Oprah, not worthy of their time.

I often wonder how they cleanse their reading palate. For instance, when you go to a restaurant you don’t just sit there and eat salad all night long do you? You eat a little of everything to ensure a well balanced meal and the experience of a variety of tastes. I believe the same applies to reading-you need the balance and variety.

I have to tell you that it didn’t take long for my paperback rendezvous to fizzle away, and I soon found myself craving a difference in scenery so to speak. This is why the genres complement each other, and why I would never put one up against the other. We need all of them at different times in our lives.

And maybe the truth is we all have a little book snob in us somewhere, though we may not be aware of it. All of us could be more tolerant of other people’s literary choices. We should not judge people or their intellect based on what they choose to read.

Remember your early reading years when you would read anything and everything you could get your hands on including the TV guide? Fiction, non-fiction, romance, mysteries, fantasies, thrillers, memoirs, biographies. You read them freely and without fear of ridicule or judgment. You didn’t wait to check the Sunday paper to see what everybody else was reading before you chose a book. Your love for words was your master and reading guide, not the hype or prestige associated with an author or genre.

I applaud all great writers who continue to turn out tremendous work and thrill their audiences even in the face of the snobbery. These writers remain steadfast and stalwart against the book snobs and critics even though their books are squeezed into categories that no longer seem able to hold them, and are slapped with labels that are less than flattering, even while the demand for their books continue to soar.

All snobbery aside, a great book is a great book. It should not matter if the author is male, female, young, old, black, white, a stay-at-home-mom or a professor. If a book is well written and touches the reader, then it has accomplished what it was meant to accomplish.  

Check out DCPL’s Reference database NoveList Plus where you can browse other genres, find books that you’re in the mood to read and discover other books and writers similar to the ones you already know.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dea Anne M May 9, 2017 at 2:25 PM

What a fun post, Camille! I’ll never forget a friend of mine telling me that he was planning to read “The Corrections” and “Moby Dick.” while he was at the beach. I, of course, had my cozy mysteries and a couple of Georgette Heyers ready to take on my vacation. Oh well, as I’ve told this particular friend before – his brow is usually higher than mine! Anyway, I agree with you that we need a balance and just because a book is tagged with a particular genre, or is considered “popular,” doesn’t mean that it’s poorly written. After all, Charles Dickens’ writing was enormously popular during the Victorian Era and now his novels are considered classics!

Tina Clomon May 10, 2017 at 10:39 AM

So very very VERY true!!!!!

JGG May 10, 2017 at 11:19 AM

Thank You Camille for expressing how I feel about Book Snobs, too!

Hope L June 1, 2017 at 8:32 AM

Camille, you certainly hit the nail on the head with this post. I really enjoyed reading it. I used to worry about people seeing me reading “low-brow” stuff, but I think in my old age I have been relieved of some of this. I must admit that I have certainly pooh-poohed authors like Danielle Steel and James Patterson merely because they are popular. Meanwhile, though, I am not above reading Mad Magazine, true crime or anything else!

Y Primrose June 1, 2017 at 11:40 PM

Love this article. Proof that there are others like myself that just love a well written book, no matter who wrote it from adult to children, no matter the race or religion. I always say try a new author they may just surprise you.

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