Let’s Talk: Book Snobbery & Feeling Devalued For Your Reading Choices

book snobbery

First of all, just going to mention that my discussion posts are now under the title “Let’s Talk…” I just got a bit bored of writing “discussion post” at the beginning of every post every week, so let’s make it more interesting πŸ™‚

Right then.

This topic…oh this topic.Β 

It’s a topic that bothers me more than it should. But it’s been mentioned SO many times lately, and I just can’t help but put my own thoughts out there. The amount of times I’ve ranted on other people’s blogs about this, surely it’s about time I actually gathered all my thoughts together and made my own discussion about it.

As you can probably guess, this post is going to be a long one, so buckle up and enjoy!

Let’s talk!



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What is book snobbery?

It’s when someone – usually another reader – Β judges you for what you read. The sort of people who feel like everyone should read classics, and every other book isn’t as sophisticated, enthralling, intelligent, educational…

The sort of people you’d be ashamed to admit what you’re reading, because it’s likely they’d Β just dismiss you, like you can’t have an intelligent conversation about books.

But there’s also lowkey book snobbery too. This isn’t as noticed, because these people don’t judge other people for what they read…but instead they judge themselves. These people feel like they have to read classics in order to feel more valued, or to have a refined reading taste. To feel like they won’t be judged, even though they themselves don’t think reading other books is less valuable.

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I feel like I say this all the time, but I cannot stress it enough:

No matter what you read, reading anything is better than reading nothing.

You learn from every single book you read, whether you realize it or not.

Think about the topics that are discussed in the books we read today. With every book we read, we learn more about mental health, feminism, LGBT+, personalities in general, society, how to handle situations, education….and endless list of topics are discussed. And as I learnt from my Literature classes last year, most classics were written at a time when even merely mentioning anything along the lines of equal rights or LGBT+ (etc) would be considered taboo. So the only thing you learn about those sort of topics in classics…is that the Victorian era didn’t discuss them?

And yet somehow, because classics are the genre that are used in schools, colleges, universities, you name it…because they’re the books used for educational purposes, they’ve somehow received a higher status. Classics are still fiction…so what’s the difference between that and YA (for example)? They’re worded differently?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got absolutely nothing against classics. I’m even trying to get myself to read more of them, and slowly build up my collection.

The problem I have is when people feel ashamed to admit what they’re reading, because it doesn’t sounds as intelligent saying “I’m reading Throne of Glass, it’s a young adult fantasy!” when you could be saying “oh yes I’m reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte!”

My own experience

I remember last year while studying Literature, my teacher asked me and my friend what we were reading. She would constantly say that we should be reading outside of class, since we were Literature students, and seemed thrilled when my friend and I actually said “yes” when she asked if we were reading another book outside class. And yet when she asked the title, and she didn’t recognise it…she sort of sniffed and said “oh…” then recommended a bunch of classics and poetry to me. I remember myself physically deflating. I love talking about the books I’m reading (obviously), so to be dismissed so quickly because the book wasn’t as recognizable as the classics…left me in a bad mood all day.

It didn’t change my opinion though. I still read the books I want to read, rather than the ones I “should” read, in the eyes of those few people.

And I do admit that I feel slightly more accomplished when I read a classic. And some of this might be because of the everyday book snobbery we see. But I feel like now, it’s more because I’ve set it as a personal challenge to read more classics, like I have with contemporaries.

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How is reading ever a bad thing?

Doesn’t it seem a bit contradictory for people to be saying “everyone should read!” and then turn around and say “wait, you’re reading that? Oh…”

I’ve learnt more about Greek and Roman mythology from Rick Riordan’s middle grade novels than I have from the mythology related Little Black Classics I’ve read.

Reading is a hobby. Think of it this way: No one would judge an artist for the things they like to draw. So why judge readers for what they like to read? At least they’re reading!

Whether you want to read YA, Fantasy, Contemporary, SciFi, Non fiction, Fiction, Historical, Classics, or ANY genre, read for you. There shouldn’t be a pressure to read certain things.

Granted, most of the reading community don’t judge what you read. Most of us are lovely people who are just thrilled that there are others out there who love books just as much as we do. But it’s that small minority we’re mentioning today.

When you read, you are reading for your own enjoyment. Read for you. Not for the opinions of others.

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Well that was quite a rant!

I applaud you guys who made it through my ranting.

Share your thoughts!

What do you think of book snobbery?

Have you ever witness a case of book snobbery? Have you ever felt devalued for what you read?

Is there any advice you want to give to the people who feel judged for their reading choices?

Do you agree/disagree with what I said?

Join the discussion (or have a rant) in the comments!

Until next time…

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23 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Book Snobbery & Feeling Devalued For Your Reading Choices

  1. Good for you for standing up for yourself. If you just read the one genre then i can understand why someone would encourage you to branch out, but that’s not the case here obviously. I used to experience this with Terry Pratchett – his original paperback covers didn’t help as they made the books look more childish than they are. Nowadays publishers have got wise to this and will publish books in a younger reader and adult formats, with different covers for the different markets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not even that I need to stand up for myself, but there’s been that many people saying they feel bad about their reading chances, I feel like I have to stand up for them.
      Childish covers can definitely make it seem worse. Though like you said, publishers are realizing this and trying to help in some way, which is always appreciated!

      Like

  2. I love this discussion post! Reading is reading; YA or classics, a book is a book. It’s understandable if you simple don’t like a genre, but to look down on someone for reading YA is out of order. Agreed! It’s tantamount to any other kind of snobbery really, but it’s wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a younger kid I was a terrible book snob, in fantasy not classics, I was all high fantasy all the time and I didn’t read anything actually written for people my own age because I thought I was to smart for that. When I was eleven I read Twilight and the love I felt for that book meant the end of my booksnobbery. Now I will pick up almost anything and it has made reading so much more fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think all kids feel smarter if they read books for older people though. Or maybe proud? I’m glad you now pick up any book though, plus it means there’s so much more to choose from!

      Like

  4. Book Snobbery definitely exists, and it’s a pain in the butt. I find myself doing it to me, too, because I haven’t read many of the classics, but I mostly just try to shrug it off. I read – I read a LOT – and I read to escape all the bad crap that’s happened to me. It shouldn’t matter that what I read isn’t high brow literature. Reading should be a pleasure, not a pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with you that there should be no pressure to read certain things. I’m kind of appalled that your Literature professor gave you that response after saying that you should read outside of class. Just because the title was unfamiliar to her does not mean that it should be looked down upon. And as a Literature teacher, I feel like that is the worst response that you could have in a situation like that

    Liked by 1 person

  6. PREACH ASHLEIGH, PREACH!! πŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ I have sadly done that lowkey book snobbery to myself, especially with reading Classics. I feel entitled to read them, and sometimes I frustrate myself whenever I can’t get into reading Classics. πŸ˜‘

    I remember when I was reading Anna and the French Kiss, people were so judgemental whenever they saw me reading it because of the title. I was be so defensive and say that it’s totally a safe read, thinking about it now I realized that I shouldn’t have behaved like that. BECAUSE I CAN READ WHAT I WANT, and as long as I’m enjoying and comfortable in what I’m reading nothing else should matter. πŸ˜…πŸ™†

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YESSS! With Anna and the French Kiss I used to judge it because of the name, but then I read it and LOVED IT! πŸ˜€ That really put things into perspective for me. I just feel like now, whenever someone judges me, I just turn around and say “well at least I’m reading” πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I went to a big Eastern college, so I have read a LOT of classics. I rarely enjoyed them. I decided a long time ago not to continue reading anything I wasn’t enjoying. I’ve finished very few classics since that time.

    And yet I actually had a friend’s dad tell me that I’m the only one who always knows what he is talking about – I learned what I was discussing with him (Russian geography and architecture in the Murmansk area) from an Artemis Fowl novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like most people at least know something about classics, and that’s why they’re approved of more than other genres. But just read what you enjoy πŸ˜€

      Like

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