Opinion Pieces

Book Snobbery: are you guilty?


I have a confession: I have been guilty of book snobbery. I have also been on the receiving end of book snobbery. Neither are pretty.

My father and I would spend many hours at chemotherapy when he was sick. Most visits to the hospital would last around seven hours. Even though my father and I could and would talk about anything for hours, we even exhausted our conversations. So, to remedy this, we would bring lots of snacks and books to read. On one particular day, I had brought Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, to read. After chatting with my Father for a few hours, we decided to switch to our books. I pulled Alice’s Adventures out of my handbag and began to read. As I started to read, I heard some whispering. I pulled myself out of my reading reverie and casually started to listen in…

“Look at what she’s reading… Alice in Wonderland… That is a kids book. How lame…”

I was so shocked. I looked up at them and the two women who gave me a casual pretend smile. My father had also heard the conversation, and he was not so quiet. He loudly started to talk about Lewis Carroll as a brilliant mathematician and the literary merits of the book. All the while he was staring down these two women across from us. The women never made a comment again, but I couldn’t help but feel judged. The next week I went with my Father for his Chemo appointment, I made sure that I brought along something very complicated to some how prove my literary prowess… Whatever that means.

***

When I was on the bus once coming home from work, I saw a woman reading Fifty Shades of Grey and I did the biggest eye-roll of my life. I stood there judging this woman, thinking to myself, “What utter trash. How can she be reading that?” (Even though I have never read the book). The woman looked up at me as I was giving her the stink eye and she quickly looked back down and pulled the book a bit higher. I’ve had similar judgemental experiences when I have been at a bookshop and someone has asked for the Mills and Boons section, or where Twilight is kept, or if they could recommend any more vampire romance novels. Every time, I roll my eyes and sigh that sigh of snobby derision. And every time I do, I feel guilty for judging. Yet, even though I feel guilty, I still judge. I try to remind myself of the Alice in Wonderland moment where I felt indignation. But it doesn’t stop me.

Am I alone in this? Do you judge people based on what they read? Have you ever found yourself being judged? And most importantly, do you try to stop yourself from judging people?

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