Beware the literary snob. When book bullies bite…

In one of many pleasantly didactic episodes of The Golden Girls, the best television show of all time, Dorothy meets and quickly becomes friends with a famous local Miami author, Barbara Thorndyke. It becomes apparent, however, that Dorothy’s new friend is a bit of a literary elitist. She rolls her eyes at Blanche and Rose, won’t give them the time of day, rattles off rare literary references and generally makes them feel like morons. (Granted, Rose is not the sharpest Crayon in the box but her naiveté is what makes that character so darn funny and endearing.)

This example came to mind while perusing a few questions at Yahoo Answers where I came across a particularly acerbic literary putdown. This kind of attitude just isn’t necessary. If we made assumptions about every person who read the Twilight series (myself included), then I think we’d paint ourselves into a very tight corner. Reading is supposed to be fun, remember? Are we going to start making judgments about Fifty Shades fans, too? God forbid you read a mass market paperback and enjoy it.

Life is too short to worry about what others think of you, so go ahead and read Twilight if that’s what makes you happy. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s okay. Like it or don’t like it. Whatever. But there’s no need to get insulting.


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12 thoughts on “Beware the literary snob. When book bullies bite…

  1. Whoa. What a pain in the patoot some people can be. I wrote a post about how horribly unfair it is that people are often guilted about their reading choices. Read freely, I say. Whatever you want, whenever you want. I would’ve had a not so nice comeback for this individual.

  2. Ugh. As much as I like to rail against books that I think are poorly-written, I’d never attack someone for liking those books. We all have our not-so-sophisticated tastes; my hubs, for example, will only read a small subset of the classics . . . but he likes to drink Coors out of a can, you know? And I love reality television. If people judged us just based on that, they’d have entirely the wrong idea.

    • The beauty of fiction, and reading in general, is the incredible amount of choice. Genres, authors, decades, etc. There’s so much to choose from! Why impose our own restrictions? We all have different personalities and interests. Why can’t we like kraft dinner AND Shakespeare?

      And I totally get the reality television thing. I’m a sucker for MTV Challenges…

      Thanks so much for visiting!

  3. I agree, Twilight wasn’t high up on my list of literary faves but I’d never answer in such a way to put people off from reading permanently. That person is an A$$ for answering that way. Sorry. So unnecessary!

  4. I strongly agree.

    I do think some people mistake a criticism of a book they like as a criticism of them, which it isn’t. I read the first Harry Potter and thought it an indifferent children’s novel. That doesn’t make others wrong for enjoying it, or mean I think any less of them. It means we differ on it. I did though get careful about saying I hadn’t rated it as some people got very defensive when I really wasn’t saying anything about them at all. Hell, I read classic pulp fiction on occasion to unwind, I’m in no position to be throwing stones.

    Also, WWF is awesome, and I’m not talking about the wildlife people. Same goes for monster trucks (seriously, they’re giant trucks, what’s not to love?).

    The other corollary that strikes me is inverse snobbery. I’ve seen comments on occasion where I’ve enjoyed some experimentalist or modernist work where people accuse me of being elitist or pretentious, or suggest I’m only reading it to be in with some artsy crowd they’re imagining exists. It’s nonsense. I read those books because I like them and find them rewarding, and if someone can’t see why I like them that’s no different to me not seeing why some people like death metal. Tastes differ.

    In defence of Susie’s husband I would say though that if beer is served in a can it’s meant to be drunk from the can. Why would you dirty up a glass? Coors however is inexcusable (actually, I’ve not the foggiest what Coors is like, but America does have surprisingly bad beer for some reason compared to most countries, no idea why, Canada too).

    • Hey, I hear ya. I’ve been known to enjoy MTV Challenges and the odd episode of The Bold and the Beautiful… they’re insane but completely entertaining. And, let’s not forget Young and the Restless. I’m always curious about that kookie bunch.

      As for the beer, I’m not much of a connoisseur, so most beer tastes the same to me, whether it’s served in a bottle, glass or can. One word comes to mind for all three: bitter. I do, however, enjoy chocolate milk and grilled cheese sandwiches (both being extremely sophisticated snacks, as well).

      I just get tired of the attitude people pull about capital “L” literature. When I was in school, our profs really had to reel students in and reiterate that they needed to be collegiate and considerate of other opinions.

  5. My daughter and I were talking about this kind of thing yesterday — it is incredibly obnoxious when someone insults another person over her book or movie choices. And people seem to think the anonymity of the internet gives them license to be as nasty as they want to be. Not a Twilight fan myself, but many intelligent people love the series. And since I’ve been known to delve into Sookie Stackhouse, I live in a glass house. ;-)

    • Hi Stephanie,

      You’re totally right. We all have our “guilty pleasures” (minus the guilt) but that doesn’t mean others have the right to get snarky and rude about our choices. I’ve got a Stackhouse novel waiting on my shelf as well…

      And I have been known to enjoy a soap… or two. :)

      Thanks for visiting!


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