I seem to have read several articles this week about the issue of book snobs. People who seem to think that there is something wrong with you if you read books that are for a younger audience, or books that exist simply to entertain. All I can do is wonder in amazement why, for one, other people are concerning themselves with the types of books that I, or anyone else enjoys, and two, how they have so much extra time on their hands.
I love books. I love everything about them. I love all kinds of books. I love the Classics. (Although there are quite I few I have yet to read), I love books with lofty, literary ideals. I love books that teach me things I didn’t know before I opened its pages. I love books that are nothing but fluff and entertainment value. I have not read many of the “popular” titles. I have not read many of the authors that are on all the lists of authors you are supposed to have read before you die. I have to wonder, though, why, if we all love books so much, can we possibly look down our noses at people for the types of books they enjoy reading?
Why should an adult be ashamed of reading YA books? Why should you feel sheepish if you read romance or chick lit? To me, a book is something that is supposed to bring you great joy and comfort. A book is a way to go somewhere else and leave the world you are in, even if only for a few moments. I can enjoy the writing styles of many authors. I can enjoy all kinds of subject matter. Why in the world would someone try to make someone feel embarrassed by what they read? Books are written to be read. When a YA author is furiously typing away, I am sure they are not thinking, “Wow, I certainly hope no adults read this book. That would be awful!” Read to make yourself happy. Read the books that bring you joy, and to hell with what anyone thinks about it. I know people who confine themselves to one type of book. I am not putting those people down, I am simply amazed that they can do this. I can’t pick one genre of book I like over another, because there is so much out there to read! I can’t imagine confining myself to one category, I would miss so much!! BUT — if someone wants to only read detective stories, then so what? If someone likes the YA dystopian genre, then that’s their business. Do bullies and snobs have to be EVERYWHERE? Even among book lovers? Why does anyone think they know what everyone else should be reading?? (and yes, I’ve read some books that are on all the “must read” lists that positively put me to sleep!)
That does bring me to another subject entirely. Book reviews. I am hesitant to bring this up, because I think it can be a volatile issue. As writers, we need reviews. Not all reviews are going to be good. Some people are not going to like your book, even if that book is well written. So, what do you do when you read a book and it’s more than just the fact that you did not enjoy the story. In the self publishing world, we are all too aware that there are those who work hard to hone their craft, and then there are those who seem to wake up one morning with the brilliant idea to write a book and they jot it down and publish it, because, after all, publishing can be “easy”. We have all been burned by those bad books. We have all also found some glorious writing that seemed to speak to us and make our lives better for our having read it. So, what do you do when faced with this awful, terrible writing? I am not talking about the kind of bad reviews that people leave simply to be vicious. I am not talking about the people that stalk a particular writer, leaving vile, vicious reviews for no other reason, it seems, than sheer harassment. If you read a book, though, and it is truly horrible, do you leave a review where you share that opinion, or are you hesitant to do so? I certainly wouldn’t want to tear down another writer, goodness knows I have much to learn and will always always be honing my craft. Still, is it wrong to leave a review stating a strong negative opinion? What do you think of this subject? Do you abstain from leaving reviews for books you hated? Do you leave a review where you try to put it nicely that you thought the book was poorly written? Is there proper etiquette for bad reviews or does everyone have their own opinion on the matter? I’d love to know what you think.
Reviews can be good for many things. Even bad reviews can be helpful. I’ve heard we should hope for a mix of reviews, good and bad, and I see the logic in this. (again, not speaking of bad reviews of the vicious sort…but honest reviews. Honest opinions.) I am just wondering, in the light of how many vicious verbal attacks there have been, if anyone is thinking differently on how they write a less than glowing review. Does it make you think before leaving a bad review? Does it affect you at all?