Thursday, June 21, 2007

FOR ALL OF THE BOOK SNOBS AND THEIR CRONIES--The Book Snots, The Book Nazis and The Book Police . . .

I don't get BOOK SNOBS, in particular those who feel obliged to tell others WHAT and HOW they OUGHT to be READING. You know the type of people I'm talking about? The ones prone to shaking their larger than average heads, looking down their long, narrow noses (or wide and slightly flared nostrils) and uttering "tsk, tsk, tsk" if what you're currently reading doesn't make their list of "worthy" reads? The ones who treat reading as if it's some sort of fierce, life or death competition, and in turn have desginated themselves as both team captains and keepers of score? Yeah, you know who and what I'm talking about.

So, could somebody please tell me why these folks just don't get it? IMHO telling folks what they OUGHT TO or OUGHT NOT be reading is impolite and arrogant at best, and at its worst, fuels the type of lock-step mentality that leads to the banning and even outright burning of books marked by the "powers that be" as inappropriate.

Even though my own preferences in literature tend to lean toward "literary fiction" and I have an admitted bias for books that reflect the African American experience, I am, for all practical purposes, an eclectic reader. The books on the shelves in my own personal library will attest to the fact that I read a bit of everything--Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, Jackie Collins, Hemingway, Kafka, Terry McMillan, Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, Zane . . . Believe me, the list goes on and includes everything in between. And that's just for fiction.

At the risk of making a right proper A$$ out of U and ME (lol), I ASSUME most people read, as I do, for pleasure and/or enlightenment. I have no problem accepting that what pleases and entertains me and/or expands my knowledge base could very well gag or bore plenty of others.

Some of my closest and dearest friends live off a steady diet of romance novels. I can't stand formulaic romance, not to be confused with a good love story (smile). While I might, on occasion, tease my friends about their reading selections (as they do me) I don't judge or condem them for their choices.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that assigning specific and fixed weights and values to books leads to the "everything I read is great" and "everything you read is crap" school of thought. Sorry, I simply can't get with that type of "holier than thou attitude" when it comes to books. As if owning an appetite for the "so-called" classics or the NY Times Best Sellers, or the Oprah Book Club Pics or even the Pulitzer Prize Winners will automatically recuse one from being either an idiot or an ax-murderer.

Sure, there's a lot of stuff out there I won't read (like all of that hustler, pimp, ho, thug & gansta) lit or I read very little of (most of that I don't wanna be a freak, but I can't help myself type of stuff) or that which I for the most part consider a right hot mess (nope, not even gonna go there). And yes, there are quite a few books through which I've struggled, but only after determining ON MY OWN and FOR MYSELF that the book was worth the effort.

The world is too big and life much too short to get stuck plowing through pages of material that bring you absolutely no joy, particularly if you're only doing so because someone with a MFA, PhD or a talk show labeled it a "classic" or a "must-read." Besides, unless the person doing so is your parent (and you're still a minor, living up in their house), your teacher, professor or possibly your employer, they really don't have any business dictating what and how you read in the first place.

So for all you BOOK SNOBS out there . . . when you stumble upon someone who shares your reading preferences, by all means, go ahead and applaud. You have every right to celebrate. But please, when you bump into someone whose taste in lit and/or reading habits you consider "beneath" yours, try not to castigate, verbally assassinate or straight-up perpetrate, all right?! (LOL)


Anonymous said...

Wow!What a super Blog. I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for coming to our meeting Lori and sharing your road to publication, we look forward to seeing you again. I'd like to recommend a book, I don't know if you would like it, but I found it to interesting. It may be out of print, but I think you can do an out of State delivery with it. It is titled " Help me to Remember, Help me to Forget," the Robert Saddler story.

Lori said...

Hey Anon,
Thanks for stopping by the "Mix" and adding a comment. I hope you'll come back and give us a few more details about the book you recommended--HELP ME TO REMEMBER, HELP ME TO FORGET. Perhaps you could share why you found it such an interesting read.

Michelle Davis Petelinz said...

Whoo, girl! 'Feel better now?! All kidding aside, I do agree with you; folks should keep their opinions about what others are reading to themselves, unless asked. Like you, I'm an ecclectic reader, and don't usually listen to 'expert' commentaries on books unless the subject or author interests me. Good to know I have company!

Lori said...

Hey Michelle,
Hmm, I guess I did go on a bit of a rant, huh? (LOL) Well, I'd rather do it here on the blog, than take it out the poor hubby (smile). Thanks for stopping by the "Mix."