This week I am trying to understand why society as a whole judges people based on the books they read. When I was a child I read fantasy and adventure stories about children who were struggling with growing up, struggling to defeat evil, or struggling with adults who didn’t understand them. These stories focused on the adventure, the thrill, the scary ghosts or evil wizard. As an adult, I still like to read children’s books. I still read comics, too. What’s so wrong with that?
Why do we judge people based on their reading preferences? Why do we scoff at others who don’t read what we consider to be the “right” genres for their age or sex?
We all do it, whether we realize it or not. After I read the Twilight books, and was severely disappointed, I would hear others talk about how wonderful they were and I would roll my eyes and tell them they were wrong. And I would tell them why. Yeah, I wasn’t always nice about it, either. I wasn’t discussing the books with them, I was talking down to them. Hindsight is 20/20 and I realize now that it was not a nice thing to do. In fact, it was downright wrong.
Worse are those who judge books of a certain genre they have not even read. Why slam something you know nothing about? Is your opinion based on hype of the book, the author, or the book’s synopsis? Why criticize a genre you have never read? When people express opinions about genres they’ve not read, these opinions are wrong at worst and uninformed at best. How could you know it is no good if you have never laid eyes on it?
I may not like a certain genre or series, but that gives me no right to think less of the ones who do read and enjoy those books. I see nothing wrong with reading comics at my age because I enjoy the stories. And that’s what reading is all about: entertainment. There are those that sneer at speculative fiction readers because they believe that those stories are silly or childish. Some look down at romance because they believe every book in the genre is full of ridiculous situations with no real plot. Okay, that is your opinion and there is nothing wrong with having an opinion about books, authors, or even genres you don’t read. But disparaging others who do enjoy them is not cool.
There is a lot wrong with the world. We are destroying our planet, persecuting our each other over small differences like skin color or sexual preference, overlooking the poor and starving, and basically thinking up any excuse to be cruel to our fellow man. Books are our escape from the real world. Stepping into another universe and being swept away for a time is a gift. Should we really be throwing around derogatory remarks at others over their choice of how to escape?
Books should bring us together, just as art and music does. You go enjoy your Twilight and let me get back to my comics and children’s books. We can agree to disagree on our preferences, and still remain cordial about it.