This post is going to be about one of the biggest issues in the writing/reading world, which I imagine is also an issue in the rest of the art world. It's going to be about my own experience with having this issue.
Yes. My name is Kira Brighton, and I am a recovering book snob.
The thing about literature is that you can't determine what's going to be a "classic" while you're still in the lifetime of the writer. People can't just sit down and write a literary masterpiece. They need to study the craft. They need to practice and read and expand their minds. They need to do it out of love and passion, not just to be "intelligent." And a lot of it is in the timing. The Great Gatsby was generally ignored in its time, for example. Nobody realized its merits until later generations, which is something that happens an awful lot with great art. Time is the final judge, and while people can totally have preferences and personal opinions, there's no value to being judgy about what counts as "deep" and important and what counts as "fluff."
Also, there's nothing wrong with "fluff" in the first place. It adds happiness to the world, after all, and that's noble in itself. It's just a matter of what speaks to people. A lot of the stuff that book snobs dismiss, they dismiss because they don't respect the main audience, and that's not cool. There is value in every audience, whatever they may like!
Now, all of you know how rabid of a reader I am. I read all of the time, whatever I get my hands on. The librarians know me by name. I have basically a whole shelf dedicated to my holds. I have to limit myself to 12 books a visit, and I break that self-imposed rule, like, all the time. Other college students can't understand how I find the time to read so many books, even other English majors. I read in the shower sometimes, for potato's sake. So how could someone like me be a book snob, a picky reader, an uppity fussbudget of the literary fashion?
Easily, it turns out.
I don't think I was a book snob at first. I was too busy being a devourer of words and worlds and knowledge and ideas. As I grew older, however, I developed a complex that I think a lot of intelligent children who are a bit bullied develop--for lack of a better term, this complex shall here be referred to as the "Popularity Sucks" complex. I decided that popular kids were stupid, that I didn't want to be around them, that I was a magical individual who was too cool for cool stuff, and that normality was boring. It's totally okay to be interested in weird stuff and not interested in popular stuff, of course, but when a value judgement is based entirely on popularity status (which is pretty arbitrary), it lends itself to snobbery--and a lot of closemindedness. (Sweeping judgments in general are limiting.)
Due to my Popularity Sucks complex, I didn't watch any TV or listen to music that wasn't classical or Enya until seventh grade. I rejected recommendations from others based solely on my own stubbornness. Other times, jealousy kept me away from things that might've interested me. (Jealousy is probably a big part of the Popularity Sucks complex in general, with maybe a pinch of fear.) Most notably for this post, I refused to read popular modern children's books in favor of those that were older or lesser known.
For a while this worked fine for me. I avoided some books and read many more and was happy. But then something happened...
The Harry Potter series became a phenomenon. You all know how much I love Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling. My life would not be complete without this series.. But at the age of eight, with my Popularity Sucks complex my response to everyone in the world, friends, librarians, aunts, cousins, parents, telling me to read this series was something along the lines of "Nononononononononono!"
Then, one summer, I was at my aunt's house for vacation. The adults went out, and the kids decided to throw a party to celebrate the one year anniversary of the first Harry Potter movie or something. I didn't want to be all alone not watching the movie or partying. So, with a bad attitude in hand, I sat down to watch the movie with my cousins. I kept the bad attitude until Dumbledore started talking, which is, what, two minutes in? Then it was too late for me. I had fallen in love. I scared the wits out of my parents, who don't read, when they came back to the house three hours later and I ran right at them babbling about butterbeer and wizards.
Book snobbery, 0, Harry Potter, 1.
You'd think I would have learned my lesson after that, and it did open up my vision a little, but I remained stubborn for years. I read popular fiction, but not if someone told me to. I needed lots of pushes (such as the push that is middle school) to expand my horizons. As I grew, I did start to go back and read some of the works others had recommended. Today, I've reached the point where I actively try to read different kinds of writing on a regular basis, even those genres I'm not as into (like historical fiction). I've come a long way from the kid who refused Harry Potter. But still, every time someone recommends a book to me, I get a twinge inside of me that tempts me to say, "Nononononononono!"
Which is also how I didn't get into Doctor Who until this summer. 🤷🏻♀️
So yes, I'm a recovering book snob, and as someone who has been there in my own way, I urge all other book snobs to let go of that stubbornness, jealousy, or fear and allow themselves (and others!) to enjoy all different kinds of literature. You might be surprised at what happens when you do.
Grow up a little, y'all. Don't be like an eight year old with a Popularity Sucks complex.
What experiences have you had with book snobbery? Are you or were you ever a book snob?
(My mother insisted on giving me bunny ears when I was originally trying to take a picture. Here you go, Mom. Here's your bunny ears.)
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