Sunday, June 29, 2014

Confessions: On Judging a Reader By Their Books (With Gifs)

Confessions of an Insomniac Book Devourer #7

Have you ever been judged solely on the contents of your bookshelves? Have you inferred character traits onto someone else based on their "favorite" books, or the books they talk about? ...have you thought twice about calling someone your friend, after seeing their shelves were only books that are popular or "in"? If none of those apply to you, you're probably not a reader- or you're a reader, but you enjoy telling yourself you're a cut above. I think we all have books we'd rather say we have not read, or those certain books we see people reading and we silently scoff at them.

You've probably heard a lot of this:
E.L. James? The stuff of fanfiction!
Twilight? Dumb sparkly vampires' patriarchy!
War and Peace? Talk about War and Snoozed Through It.

Worse things have been said about those books, but I chose to take the high road (as I'm a cut above the rest), and gave milder examples. But I must ask... Why do we do it? Why do we judge our fellow (few and far between) readers? Why do we assume because x person read y book and rated it z stars, they will automatically be in q box?

So you've read Twilight... From Reaction Gifs.
On occasion, I have been known to judge people for their books, but often not the way you'd think. If I see someone on GoodReads who reads only ONE genre- one genre, out of the many you can pick from- I will absolutely judge them. I think it's important to read widely, expand your literary horizons, and use books for learning as well as enjoyment. If someone reads from two genres (and not every book from the New York Times bestseller list), I don't feel the need to silently judge that someone any longer.

Well, now to 'fess up my reading habits (again): I've read the entire Twilight series, when I was 13-16 years old, and thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading it. I hated the movie, thus ending my infatuation (Rob Pattinson looks more like a girl than me...), but it is still rated 3 stars on my GoodReads profile, to this day. I know people loathe that book quite demonstrably, and would probably judge me for reading it, but the fact remains: it has a place on my bookshelf. I'm not going to hide the fact that I've read it because people may give me the Ryan Gosling look. I'm a reader, and therefore, I read- whatever book makes me happy, whenever I want, wherever I may be.

So why do we judge people for reading books? Shouldn't we, as readers, protect our own from such prejudicial nonsense? We live in an age where it is so easy to not read: if it's a popular book, it'll be a movie/tv show in no time; if it's a classic, we can read the highlight reel on Sparknotes; if it's a debut novel by an unknown author, why take the time to read it when there is so little chance it will ever be popular? There are so many reasons not to read, compounded with "but people might judge me for it", and suddenly we have many people who, once out of school, never pick up a book again.

That makes me angry. Angry enough to pet my precious Persian while instigating the demise of another girl from the Bond movies...

From Giphy, and You Only Live Twice

I try not to judge people on their books anymore- even if they stick resolutely to one genre, or even if they love a book I can't stand. What does it accomplish besides making people not want to read books and making me a caviler? Instead, I feel it is my duty to encourage people to read. Read what you want to, and never take crap for reading whatever you please. You'll be glad you did.

To All Who Have Been Judged By Their Books, You Are:

From Giphy

Have you been judged because of books you've read? Do you judge people on what books they do and do not read? Are people too quick to defame certain books?


  1. I confess when I was 16-17 I did judge people by what they read (Nabokov was my favourite writer at the time!) I understand how wrong I was.

    1. Yeah, I was a bit of a book snob as a teen as well- mainly to people who didn't read books recreationally. We all have those moments... at least as teenagers.
      Thanks for commenting!
      ~Litha Nelle

  2. Great article. That llama at the end killed me, it's perfect! :)

    I've been noticing a lot of articles coming out lately that have been extremely judgmental of one particular extremely popular book genre. It saddens me to see so much hate and nose tipping toward certain books/authors. Especially since just about 90% of my friends don't read. :(

    I'm also completely guilty of judging certain books in the past (Twilight is the guiltiest one), but as I've gotten older I'm trying to be more open minded and try some new genres.

    1. I saw the llama Gif and had to have it in this post- that is one sassy beast. ;)

      It's so sad that people don't read a lot of books anymore, because there are so many gems out there that are better read than watched on a screen. And I've also seen a lot of niche-hate out there- be it for adults reading YA, people who've read Twilight or 50 Shades of Gray, and in the end- those are just books, and who are we to judge those people who've read them? I know a ton of girls my age who would've never become recreational readers if not for Twilight (I'm not among them, but still), and it's sad they're being judged for it.

      Thanks for commenting!
      ~Litha Nelle


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