March 8, 2012

Book Snob



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I am a serious book snob. I've never touched Twilight or The Hunger Games. I forced myself to read about 5 of the Harry Potter books before I gave up and whenever a book is SUPER popular I tend to avoid it (Bossy Pants comes right to mind...). The funny thing is, even if it's a book I really want to read (again, Bossy Pants comes right to mind) I'll avoid it while the whole world is trying to shove it in my face. For some reason, when hoards of people are delving into the same book it turns me off to it. I also hate teen lit for some reason--as an avid reader even when I was young I felt as though much of the teen lit was WAY too cheesy and unappealing. I rarely read romance novels and I steer clear of most chick lit. I frequently tell my reading friends that I like books that don't have happy endings and involve some sort of addiction problem. That's just a bit more interesting to me than the Cinderella archetype.

Here's my issue:
When people are reading one of these books and preface their recommendation with "The writing is awful but..."

HOLD
THE
PHONE

Why are you reading a book that's poorly written? For me, that's a deal-breaker. There are so many beautifully composed books in the world I have trouble understanding why anyone would read one that lacks in that arena.

The other common phrase I hear is "The first three books are excruciatingly boring but you have to read them to get to the good part!!".

F that. I don't have time to read three shitty books just so I can "Get to the good part". If there isn't a "good part" in ALL of the books in a series I don't have much of a desire to read them.

HOWEVER... Recently I've been feeling pressured to hop on the bandwagon of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games (I'll seriously never touch Twlight. The whole idea of it annoys me.) and I'm wondering if I should be a little bit less of a book snob and give them a second chance. I'm guessing most of you have read one or both of these series' and you have an opinion on it so I'm reaching out to you.

Should I be a little bit less of a snob and hop on the bandwagon? I just noticeably cringed when I typed that sentence... I'd really love your opinion on this! I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way.

11 notes:

Donna's Decembers

I'm going to join you on the book snobbery bandwagon, how's that? :)

I, too, judge what people read, not because of the popularity of what they read, but by the frequency of how much they read a specific genre or author. I am most annoyed when people never branch out. There are so many incredible books available that can challenge, stimulate, and intrigue; unfortunately, if a book does not have a teen-lit-esque cover, it will never draw the crowd. As a whole, our society is reading at lower and lower levels (and significantly so). The more we challenge ourselves--classic or modern lit--the better off our children will be. Kids need to see parents (A) reading and (B) reading the hard stuff. How will the kids ever branch out of their comfort zone if the people in their day-to-day lives aren't branching out as well? We're taking the easy way out, we're not challenging ourselves, we're staying with what's popular. I guess the English teacher in me should just be happy that people are reading, but I refuse to think that just reading is ok. Are we going to glue ourselves to a perpetual vampire-wizard-only book world?

With all that being said, I think that I often read texts before they become "popular" (how snobby is that?). If you pay attention in bookstores or online, it's easy to find the good stuff before it becomes "good stuff."

I would like to clarify that there is absolutely nothing wrong with mixing it up. Parents should read what their kids are reading (as I so often suggest during parent-teacher conferences) so they have conversation starters and an extra insight into their children's lives. Mixing it up is fine--so long as you're also pushing yourself. Jumping from vampires to wizards isn't jumping very far.

Vic

I initially rejected the Hunger Games because of all the hype I saw on blogs, but then a friend of mine who has a really similar taste in books to me recommended that I read them. I loved them, although they're marketed at YA Fiction, I think they're actually beautifully written, and very thought provoking if you take the time to think about them.

I do feel the same way as you, I read the first twilight book when it very first came out - it wasn't well known in the UK until just before the 4th book was released. The writing is poor, so I wouldn't really recommend them!

I don't really understand people who don't branch out when they read. I have genre's that I prefer but I like to try something different too - there's so much out there!

I think sometimes school can put kids off reading - especially the classics. I remember reading several books in English classes, one chapter a week and being forced to look at things from a particular viewpoint. I hated it!

Great post!

Kaci

I actually wrote a post about "book trends" back in the summer and my views are very similar to yours. I can't speak for the Harry Potter series because I've never read it but I would definitely recommend reading The Hunger Games. The hype around it has absolutely annoyed the heck out of me as of late and I could see why you wouldn't want to read it at this point. It really is a creative story though and I think you should give it a chance. Maybe you should wait until after the movie comes out and you won't have to hear so many people talking about it. Ha!

Here's the post I mentioned in the beginning if you're interested: http://life-love-why.blogspot.com/2011/08/hunger-games-book-trends.html

- Kaci :)

Courtney

I don't consider myself much a of a book snob. Some books are just fun, even if the writing's not aces. When I read The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, I don't remember ever being struck by "wow, what a beautifully written sentence". However, both stories are excellent. They're adequately told, the majority of the characters feel fleshed out (more so with HP than Hunger Games I think), and I enjoyed them.

I think that a lot of people read trashy books for the same reason people watch trashy TV--it's fun. Sometimes you just want to enjoy a good, juicy story and not be sent on an introspective journey, you know?

That said, there are books I won't touch either--Twilight and anything by Dan Brown come to mind. I certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone else for liking them though. Different strokes and all that.

J.Mill

I stopped at HP 4, never read Twilight or Hunger Games and claim that pop-lit is not my pace.

I generally take the public's interest in a book as a bad sign. I read The Help on the urging of a few and ended up liking the story, but not the writing.

I got my degree in writing and enjoy a book that is a bit tragic or ugly - like life - and value words over plot. I cannot read a "juicy" story if the writing is elementary and redundant.

I'd say don't stop being a snob! If you must read the pop-lit, be prepared to stand by your thoughts on it (for or against!) and help other's branch out. "Oh, you liked Hunger Games? You should try XYZ by Amazing Author."

Keep posting the book lists!

Alison

I too usually take the attitude of "if it's popular, I'm not going to read it." However, my sister, who's taste I trust implicitly, recommended both the HP books, and the Hunger Games to me.

When I finally did break down and read the Harry Potter books, I blew through most of them in 1-2 days, even the 700+ page ones. Are they deep and reflection inducing? No. Are they engrossing, witty and well written? Emphatically, yes.

I'm not quite as obsessed with the Hunger Games as I am with Harry Potter, but I was again, pleasantly surprised when I read them. The writing, while not earth-shattering, is perfectly adequate. The hook for me with this series was the concept. I love the idea of a dystopian society that forces it's children to compete in a violent competition, in order to keep its citizens powerless and defeated. That probably says something terrible about my character, but oh well; the idea intrigued me. The books were significantly more graphic and dark than what I expected from a YA series, and I was gratified to read about a heroine with some depth of character, who was brave, capable, and quick thinking. It was a nice contrast to Bella, a moaning, simpering, “I’ll die without you,” ninny who gives women everywhere a bad name.

Kristin

I think everyone has pretty much nailed it already, but I agree - I'm not reading a book to "get to the good part"; there should be many good parts in everything, and well written regardless; I won't put up with bad writing just for a (mediocre) story.

I tend to stray from "popular books" because they tend to be books I don't like anyway, but I try to branch out, and that is my biggest problem with other readers. The read one genre and one only.

Harry Potter is another story, since I grew up with it, but I do really enjoy the books and Rowling's writing.

The Hunger Games is beautifully written in my opinion, and I feel like has only gotten slapped with the YA genre just because its protagonists are teenagers. It's a wonderful dystopian work. I've had people come up and say "You liked the Hunger Games? (insert another book here) is similar and also good!" and it's not. It's crap, not well written or captivating at all.

Nikole Brasch

I seem to be in the group that believes that you cannot dislike something until you have tried it. Therefore I read anything and everything.

I have read all the Harry Potter and All of Twilight just to see what was going on. Hunger Games is next on my list. But that does not mean I cannot be a snob. I still love to read Russian and French literature and off beat books as well.

I just feel that if I have read the book such as Twilight, I have a right to criticize the book.

Ariel

I think books like Hunger Games and Harry Potter are popular for a reason... people really really like them because they're entertaining. I agree with Courtney that it doesn't have to be super flowery writing or anything to entertain. I've read Steinbeck and I've read Twilight and I don't care how beautifully written a Steinbeck book is, it won't have hooks like Twilight. I'm not saying it's well written, but like a soap opera, it will grab you. Mal, you know I've read all the Dan Brown books and Hunger Games and Harry Potter - I figure if so many people like it, I probably will too, and that's pretty much always been accurate.

I think if you're interested in something, regardless of if it's popular, you should give it a fair chance. If you read five Harry Potter books and didn't like them, then it isn't for you (although that's crazy because they're amazing!) But remember when I made you read Emily Giffin? She's pretty popular, but you still ended up loving her books. Sometimes they can surprise you! I genuinely think you'd like Hunger Games or maybe Steig Larsson books.

mel

First off, that graphic is hilarious.

I find myself drawn to certain types of reading depending on where and when I'm reading it. I usually have 3-4 books on the go.
I go for lighter fare like the Hunger Games when I'm commuting to work on the subway, dystopian post-captialist societies on rainy days when I can stay in with a blanket, and biographies before bed, lol.

I don't consider myself a book snob most of the time, but ugh, Twilight - never.

Have you got any favourite recent reads?

Hena Tayeb

I would rather jump off a building than read the Twilight Books..
I enjoyed the Hunger Games for certain reason but also disliked a few aspects.. would I recommend them yes.. but what you must remember while reading them is that they are written from the perspective of a 16year old girl.. remember how annoying we were back then?

I will read anything I get my hands on.. no snobbery there (mostly because I don't buy books but swap them on a website).. but if I am not hooked within the first few chapters I will stop.. I am not going to read something just because everyone else likes it.. and sometime what you really need is a badly written trashy novel to make you get through the day..

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