Reading Journal (9 Dec): Thoughts on Being a Selective Reader

I’ve heard more than one person express worry that they will be considered a snob because they have been only reading classics lately. Why is that?

I made a comment on Claire at Paperback_Reader’s page a few months ago (yes, that’s how long I’ve been thinking about this) and her responses got me thinking about being a discerning reader. In part, Claire wrote:

If there are any gaps in my reading then I like to fill them. I know what I like but I would never consider myself so well-read that I could simply write-off an area of literature that doesn’t appeal to me; I would be scared that it would also be to my detriment as a reader.

I hope I’m not misunderstanding, but unlike Claire, I feel okay putting off areas of literature for now. It doesn’t mean that I’m considering myself so “well-read”: it just means that I have to make choices. I’m realizing I can’t read every book that I want to read. But not only can’t I read everything that has been published, I can’t even read one thing from each genre and still feel good about my reading. There are certain fields that I’m most interesting in gaining expertise in, certain fields that I enjoy above others, and certain genres and authors that I’m incredibly interested in reading next. Those are the works I feel good about selecting to read.

As a result of those selections, there are going to be gaps in my reading, and I fully accept that.

I’m new to so many genres and formats, but I read to learn. I write on my blog to make sure I am learning something. As of right now, I am not an expert in anything: not classics, not poetry, not really old classics. I feel I have been reading a variety of things as it is, and even with that, there are going to be gaps in my reading, especially in terms of newly published works. Assuming the same rate of reading, I’ll only read another 6,000 books in my lifetime. Which 6,000 will it be?

In the past months, I’ve written posts about really old medieval and Greek classics. I’ve written about opera. I’ve started a Classics Circuit, in which I encourage people to read works by classic authors. I’ve written about poetry. I have written about how hard it is for me to read in Spanish. But I honestly don’t know very much about any particular genre. I don’t know Greek classics. I don’t know Wilkie Collins or Edith Warton or any classic era or author in general. I haven’t heard of most of the classic authors people suggest and I don’t know where to begin sometimes. I don’t know how to write about opera or even how to enjoy it (sometimes it is hard, I know!). I’ve only seen four or five operas in my life, and I fell asleep during one of them (yes, really). And poetry: don’t get me started on how inadequate I feel discussing that genre!

The bottom line is, I feel I have so much ground to cover with all these classics (which I’d love to learn about) that I don’t have time to read the Newbery winners or the best selling YA novels (for example) this month. I haven’t picked up a mass market romance novel in my life. I have never read a Stephen King novel. I’m sure there are good books in all these genres, you see, but I have to choose. Since I’m only going to have time to read 10-15 books this month, I have to be selective about what I pick up next. I want it to be a book I really want to read!

I want to be a broad reader, but I’m also realizing how important it is to me to be a selective reader. I’m not crossing anything off the list for good. But I am saying “not now.” For example, I’m not saying I’m never going to read Twilight — just not any time soon. If I ever have a teenage daughter or if I’m ever asked to work with the teenage girls at church or if there is any other reason I feel I should (or if I ever feel like it), I’ll pick up Twilight too. I’m not saying I discount all “romance” at sight. I just have so many other things I want to read this month, I haven’t felt the urge to move it to the top of the priority list.

Why do people indicate that making reading choices could be “snobbish”?

And more importantly, why is it a bad thing to make reading choices?

Does choosing to read Twilight and not a biography of Wilkie Collins likewise make someone a “snob”?


Finished Books

These are the books I finished this week.

  • The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule (215 pages; nonfiction).
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (190 pages; children’s fiction). For My History of Children’s Literature Project.
  • The Harlem Renaissance edited by Harold Bloom (300 pages; nonfiction/essays). Background info for the upcoming (February) Classics Circuit.

Currently Reading

Each week, I list my progress so I can see how my reading compares week to week.

My Books

  • Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and Their Messages by Karen Lynn Davidson (85 read of 455 pages; nonfiction).
  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (on chapter 10 of 30, about 150 pages, from Project Gutenberg; children’s fiction). For My History of Children’s Literature Project.
  • Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage (305 read of 735 pages; nonfiction). My December priority. I’m making steady progress and I was right: it’s perfect for immersion during the month of December!
  • The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon (about 350 pages; fiction/really old classic).  I didn’t read as much as I expect this weekend beyond Talmage’s volume and the Stevenson books, so I still haven’t begun yet!

Old Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

  • Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.
  • One of Ours by Willa Cather.
  • O Pioneers by Willa Cather.
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Fenyman by Robert Fenyman (on disc 9 of 10, about 11 ½ hours total; nonfiction/science). Eh. Fenyman has become rather enjoying in memoir format. I can’t believe I haven’t quit. But now I’m almost done.
  • A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton. For the Wharton Classics Circuit. I’m first in January, so I intend to get to this soon!

New Library Loot

A couple of the books I got were a direct result of The Creative Family, new loot which I’ve already finished (see above).

  • The Ultimate Preschool Playbook by Dorothy Einon. For skimming.
  • Games to Play with Two Year Olds by Jackie Silberg. For skimming.
  • One Dough, Fifty Cookies by Leslie Glover Pendleton. For baking ideas. I’ll probably stick with my own recipes, but oh, the cover looks pretty!

Finds

This list includes finds from the past two weeks! Also, The Dewey Tree Project deserves special mention.  Online Publicist is encouraging people to donate books this Christmas in Dewey’s memory.

  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. Amanda’s glowing review of this novel caught my attention.
  • Proust and the Squid by Marianne Wolf.  Eva’s thoughts convinced me to read this, as it’s a nonfiction book about how we learn to read. Since my son is just a few years away from this, it sounds like I should read it!
  • The Storyteller’s Daughter by Cameron Dokey. Ladytink wrote about this retelling of The Arabian Nights and I love the sound of it!
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Jason’s review reminded me that I meant to finish this someday!
  • Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book by The Nelson Mandela Foundation. Valerie had mixed thoughts on this but I loved Mandela’s memoir, so I should try this one some day.
  • Nation by Terry Prachett. Both Becky and Wendy wrote about this Prachett novel this week and it caught my eye both times. Is it time for my first Prachett?

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. This is something I’ve struggle with too, I worry that my reviews, or IRL when I talk about books comes across as superior and snooty – I really don’t mean it to. Amanda reads, for instance, a lot of YA lit, which I very seldom read, but this isn’t because I don’t think there are good books in the genre – some of the books she’s reviewed sound really interesting. It’s just that I don’t read that many books (especially compared to the rest of you book bloggers!!! 😉 ), and there are so many books I know I want to read. I think, with reading, the thing that catches people up sometime is that they feel there is some requirement they must fill, that as a reader they must have a list that fulfills x, y, and z, so that they will be well-read. I don’t read books to be well-read, I don’t read books so that I can accomplish anything measurable. I read books because they are beautiful and they teach me things and make me happy. I’m not as good at learning from some genres as others, this isn’t a personal failure, or a failure of those genres, it’s simply a difference of taste and audience.
    Anyway, I’ve babbled too long, sorry, but I wanted you to know I really enjoyed your post.

  2. “So many books, so little time” I think all of us would love to read more than we do but that little thing called “life” kicks in every now and again, so we have to make choices. I saw a quote that I can’t remember exactly but the author of it stated that for every book he reads he seems to add a few more to his to-read pile — that is me exactly.
    I admit to being a bit of a book snob in that I don’t usually read mass market books or the most popular books (Twilight? not my cup of tea), however I am ashamed at the lack of classics in my reading repertoire which I am trying to rectify (thanks in part to your book club). I am also attempting to read more children’s/YA literature as my 8 year old niece is becoming an avid reader (yay) and I’d like to start reading books with her.
    Great post, Rebecca.

  3. I feel like people only think someone else is a reading snob when that someone else isn’t reading the books that they read. I mean, obviously EVERYONE makes reading choices – no one has time to read everything that has ever been published and no one is wired that way; we all have preferences. For the people who don’t read classics, they probably have some other genre they like and read more things from there, and the people who read classics alone are missing out on other stuff. Do people who read classics get called snobs more often? I don’t know. Maybe. But I think that could just be because most people don’t read classics (book bloggers are perhaps the exception) or because there is this idea that classics are hard and boring and what you read for school so anyone who proclaims they read them for fun is obviously a smartypants. But I don’t think there has to be a judgment involved, so long as people are open about the fact that there’s no way one can read everything out there, and really there’s nothing wrong with people having preferences. I don’t read much YA, but I don’t think less of people who do, nor do I neglect the genre because I think it’s bad – like you, there’s just a lot of other stuff I want to read first.

    And, as if this comment weren’t long enough already, I will also say that I think it’s good that people are selective in their reading. It improves the likelihood that you’ll actually read something you enjoy, and I think that’s really important! Moreover, I personally don’t get why it’s such an asset to have no personal preferences. Put it this way, I don’t consider myself a picky eater in that I’ll try almost everything and there are few foods that I REALLY dislike and flat out won’t eat. BUT that doesn’t mean that I’m not a selective eater; there are still things I prefer to eat more than others, and those are the foods I’ll seek out. It’s the same thing with books! It’s great to keep an open mind, but no one is obligated to buy and read everything in the bookstore!

  4. I don’t think there’s anything wrong or snobby and picking and choosing one’s reading list. Though it may not seem like it, because a lot of what I’ve read this year is newer, I’m very picky about what I read. I think it’s possible to be snobby, but not necessary, if that makes sense. I don’t outright dismiss things, but I do concentrate on areas I’ll enjoy and/or grow from.

  5. Interesting post! I am thinking about my own reading choices – there are many gaps in my reading knowledge, definitely, and I am sometimes reluctant to fill them. I’ve only ever read one book by Hemingway, for instance, and I’m not at all interested in finding out whether I’d like his other books any better. (Doubt it.) On the other hand, there have been many times that I’ve read something as a duty read, to fill a gap, and found I loved it. (The Three Musketeers, Watership Down, Midnight’s Children, The Handmaid’s Tale, etc) So I have found it rewarding to try filling the gaps in my knowledge of books – and also sometimes frustrating and dull.

    I’m trying to decide about this book snobbery issue. I know that I sometimes do read a book just because it’s well-known and I wonder what everyone’s talking about, but a read like that is just as likely to be Twilight as Catcher in the Rye. I like to feel that I am well-read, and maybe that’s book snobbery, but I think (I think!) mainly I just like to be able to participate in conversations about lots of different kinds of books.

  6. Your post is so thought provoking. Personally, I think I need a little bit of balance. It is impossible not to be somewhat selective, since there are so many books out there. However, I have also read books that I have loved that were completely out of my comfort zone that I may not have read had I been more selective. So I do try to keep an open mind but I try to be realistic as well.

  7. A very interesting and thought-provoking post, Rebecca. I agree entirely with your sentiments. Sometimes I think it is sad when I consider how relatively few books I will manage to read in my lifetime, from the hundreds of thousands of interesting books in the world. But, that cannot be changed, so I just have to try to balance what I want to read with my overall goal of learning new things and trying to “fill the gaps” in my reading knowledge. I see no snobbery in being selective – it’s simply pragmatism.

  8. I’ve never really thought about it before. I guess everyone could be considered snobby readers. I choose to read whatever I feel like reading at the time.

  9. I don’t know how old you are. But over time, it’s not that hard to be well-read. Just keep reading, and try not to read too much junk. What junk is, I’ll leave to the individual reader. 6,000 books is actually a lot of books. There are probably 60,000 good novels, but nowhere near 6,000 great ones. It’ll all work out.

    Similarly, comfort, even expertise, with a period or genre will come with reading and study. There’s no other path. Just keep reading. Graduate study is a way of concentrating all of that reading. The rest of us don’t need to be in such a hurry.

    As an aside, to my knowledge, I have only been called a snob once on the internet, which I feel is pretty good, given what I am trying to do (read good books and take them seriously). I mean once publicly – privately, I’m sure it’s another story.

  10. I agree with whoever said that everyone makes reading choices — we all have more books that we want to read then we have time for, so we have to make adjustments based on what we know about ourselves and what we think we’ll like. I think it only become snobby when people refuse to think about reading a book without knowing much about it or without having a basis for saying they don’t want to read it.

    I know I’m guilty of some book snobbery myself — I just don’t want to read chick lit or stuff like that because I usually don’t like it, or I get done and feel like reading the book hasn’t taught me anything. But that’s me, and I guess if someone wants to call me out for being snobby because of that, they have every right to do so.

  11. Um, I knew that post would come back to bite me, even more than it already had. Yes, I reacted strongly to an author who I found to be a snob, both as a reader and as a writer; she is entitled to make her reading choices but I found her heavy-handed approach to certain writers, genres and entire bodies of continents and countries to be offensive.
    Of course we all make reading choices because there simply are too many books and far too little time. I calculated recently that based on living to age 80 and reading 100 books I year, then I only have 5100 books left to read, which means that I am going to be far more discerning in what I read. However, I maintain that it is irresponsible of writers to discount large bodies of literature and said something about Margaret Atwood’s apparent contempt for Science Fiction in another post. It annoys me when people say that they don’t like SF when they simply think of Star Trek and Star Wars when SF also embodies Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Blind Assassin as well as classics such as Beloved and The Master and the Margarita. I am all for the freedom of choice in one’s reading but it saddens me that so many wonderful books are neglected.

  12. I like to read a wide variety of books but tend toward the literary and challenging. I’ve had a few people comment when I read a “brain candy” book that they were relieved to see I wasn’t the snob they thought I was. Huh? To me a snob is someone who uses their reading to point out how much better they are than people who haven’t read certain books. I would never do something like that. But I think people who accuse readers who read, say Medea, of being a snob are revealing more about their own personal insecurities than saying anything valid about the reader they are calling snob.

  13. So many comments already!

    Claire, I’m really sorry if this seemed like it was coming back to bite you! I certainly didn’t mean that. And I wasn’t even commenting on that particular post — I was commenting on your comment. I think it’s awesome that you choose your books with an open mind and I love your blog and all you have to say. I just personally can’t keep up with all the books I want to read so I have to be more selective.

    And yeah, I think that author in that particular book sounded rather snobby by discounting things. Again, I wasn’t meaning to comment on that post of yours but just your comment. Sorry if it came across in the wrong tone.

    Jason, yeah, I think of Amanda’s blog as a perfect example of all the non-classic books i’d love to read someday….they just get overshadowed. I don’t feel like I read much compared to other book bloggers either but then I know you have, you know, a full time job and all that and I don’t so life is different!

    Suzanne, this week was a case in point as I read three and added half a dozen to me TBR! And none of them will be read in the next week. So hard to make priorities. I’m glad for the classics reading group and I love the discussions we have!

    Steph, I do have to say that I love pretty much every book I choose to read. Looking back of the year, the ones I haven’t enjoyed as much were the ones I read in July and August — the modern fiction I picked up to have an open mind. So I guess I just keep going back to what I know I’ll like.

    Amanda, I love how my blogging has encouragement to try new things! Graphic novels to begin with. And I really do hope to get to more YA. I have enjoyed most of what I’ve read, I just have a hard time making it priority. I love your reviews because it gets me to want to read the books.

    Jenny, I have to admit I’m very curious to know what the hub-bub about Twilight is. I have a friend who swears it’s the greatest love story ever told. I admit I’m sceptical but I’d love to be able to back it up with the reading experience! Just doesn’t make it to the priority list.

    Stephanie, I like to try some thing out of the ordinary sometimes too! I’ve just been in a classics mood lately. I will branch out again someday.

    Rebecca, thanks. Good to know I’m not alone in feel overwhelmed by how many books I will get to!

    Ladytink, isn’t it fun to just pick up what you want to read and not have that dictated by classes or friends or anything else? I just love having options.

    Amateur Reader, I’m 29 next month, so yes, I have a lot of time to get reading, and I’m excited! But when you add it up, even 6,000 books starts feeling like not a lot.

    I suspect that trying to define “junk” is what would make someone considered snobby. Because everyone has something that works for them, I wouldn’t want to try to define it, although I certainly have my ideas — maybe that makes me a snob, but even I don’t mind relaxing with Harry Potter or what not some days.

    Kim, I say, stop calling yourself snobby and call yourself selective instead. If you know a chick lit novel probably isn’t going to do much for you and you don’t want to read it, just select not to read it. Nothing snobby about selecting in that sense, I don’t think.

    Stefanie, to my knowledge, no one has called me snobby about my blog. At least not to my face. I think you make a great point, though, that snobby is when someone tries to show how they are “better” by showing off. I certainly hope that doesn’t come across on my blog because as I say above, I honestly don’t feel like I know anything: I write about books as I do because it helps me make sense of it and put things in order.

  14. Fascinating post, Rebecca! I don’t think there is snobbery in books when there is such variety and room to accommodate all tastes. I felt this year that I was pigeon-holing myself too much into fantasy and historical fiction, to my own detriment. So I’m trying really hard to get out of that- but that’s because of my own feelings, not anyone else’s. And I know fantasy & histfict will always be my favorite genres. But there are other books out there I really want to discover and enjoy. My goals for next year are graphic novels and maybe some sci fi. I’d also like to start reading a classic or two a year. But I’m just a really moody reader- so it’s hard for me to plan ahead like that.

    Really, I think people should read what they want and leave other people alone.

  15. I think there is a big difference between selecting books that you want to read and dismissing entire genres. It is the attitude that is important and not the books that you read. Looking down on people who read different things is the beginning of snobbishness.

    I think it is important to read widely, to appreciate all the different types of book that are out there and to try a book that may not belong to your favourite genre. I have been surprised many times by books that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy.

  16. Rebecca, it’s ok. I thought that my defending the context would help and I find that rereading my comment that I disagree with myself to an extent. I am never going to fill in all the gaps that I would like to fill but I can try and by “gaps” I mean reading those books that I’ve been wanting to but haven’t yet. However, I’m only doing that because there are books that I would really like to read, not because I will consider myself an expert or incredibly well-read afterwards. I don’t read books that I think I should read just because I should but because there is something appealing about them. With so little time to read the books I want, I am becoming more selective and prioritising the books that I want to read.
    Have you ever been asked if you would prefer reading all of one writer that you love’s work as opposed to the same amount of books by individual writers? I’d prefer the first; it’s important to read books that we will potentially love.

  17. I usually don’t consider someone a reading snob if they read literary or other certain types of books. The only people I think of as “snobbish” are those who consider the books they don’t read (fill in the blank here: chick lit, romance, YA, whatever) as trash. When you start spitting on someone else’s book choices, then you are a snob. It works both ways (if someone trashed a classics reader’s choices, they would be a snob too).

    Read and let read.

  18. I’ll start by confessing I haven’t read all the comments, so I’ll probably be repeating things that were already said 😛 I don’t think making choices is snobbish at all – we ALL make them, after all. We can’t read, or even consider reading, everything out there. What bothers me is when people make assumptions about someone else’s intelligence, education or “discernment” (whatever that means – I’m constantly accused of not being a “discerning reader” because I read comics, fantasy and children’s lit, but nobody seems to be able to give me an exact definition of the concept) because of the reading choices they have made.

  19. I like Candy and Sarah’s tongue-in-cheek breakdown of this issue into “slobs and snobs”: how there’s a schism that’s developed between readers of literary fiction (“snobs”) and readers of genre fiction (“slobs”), and sometimes people in each camp make outrageous generalizations about people in the other. Like, the “slobs” will assume anyone who reads Moby Dick is a stuck-up poseur who only wants to impress her friends, and takes no real pleasure in life. Or the “snobs” will assume that anyone who picks up a Harlequin Presents novel is a lazy, dissatisfied housewife with no finer aesthetic appreciation. Obviously, both types of assumption are really offensive to people who take genuine joy in their preferred type of reading! I have to admit that before I exposed myself to the wider book-blogging world, I was guilty of snobbish brush-offs towards genre fiction, but reading lots of thoughtful, engaged commentary on romance, sci-fi, etc., has definitely broadened my mind. That said, I don’t feel obligated to read any particular thing just because I’m no longer contemptuous toward it, you know?

    Anyway, like some other commenters, I think the issue is not being selective in one’s own reading choices, but looking down one’s nose at other peoples’.

  20. I agree with the other commenters that it’s largely about attitude in how we make choices. Of course, we all have to choose what we’re going to read, which means choosing not to read certain things. There was a big discussion over at Both Eyes Book Blog last week about reading “fluff,” and one of the things I took away from it is that one person’s fluff is a challenge for someone else, so it’s important not to write off whole genres or styles entirely. But I’m torn because I *would* rather see Wilkie Collins getting a wider readership than Dan Brown, which I suppose could make me an elitist.

    Maybe the important thing is not to make assumptions about people based on their reading, as Nymeth says. Personally, there are times when I for one want to read something a little on the fluffy side, then there are other times when I want to really challenge myself. I wouldn’t want people to make assumptions about me—or about my reading habits—based on what they see me with at any given moment.

  21. The only reading choice I make is to read what interests me. If I read something that doesn’t, it’s because I’m obligated in some way to read it (ex. review copy or for school). I read everything: classics, YA, middle school fiction, short stories, even picture books. I would love to be an expert in a genre but until then I like to read a little of most genres.

    I read to learn, to compete, to make myself better. I also read for pleasure. I love books and love what each genre offers. I don’t think a person is a snob if they chooses to read only certain genres. I think a person is a snob when they look down on others who don’t read those same books or genres.

    I love blogging about books that others haven’t read. I love to push those books on others to give a try. Whether or not people try the books I suggest is up to them. I like offering books I haven’t seen in the blogisphere.

  22. I think you know how I feel about the classics but I have been dabbling in lots of different areas and genres in just this past year. I want to try everything and all at once. I’m a greedy reader. It’s a problem for my bookshelves.

    I don’t want to think about the number of books I can read in my lifetime. That makes me sad!

  23. Oy. What is this, high school? Are we still supposed to be ashamed of being smart? That is sad. But I suppose part of the problem is that those who have difficulty with the classics can’t imagine anyone reading them for pleasure, so they think people must read them just to feel superior. No doubt high school English class is partly to blame for making people feel that the classics are as dull as they are difficult. It might surprise them to learn that some people get as much enjoyment out of the classics as anyone gets out of Harry Potter, if not more.

  24. I agree with a lot of commenters that book snobbery isn’t about what we read (or don’t read) but about looking down on others based on what they read (or don’t read).

    I also am a very selective reader. I tried accepting review copies this year but realized it isn’t really for me. I also tried reading challenges and realized it isn’t for me. My ideal reading would be, once I’d discovered an author I liked, to read more works by that author. This wasn’t feasible with the reading challenges. Next year you’ll be seeing me reading books by the same author back-to-back, and it’s because I’m a very selective reader as well, very much like you.

    Love your post. We share the same sentiments.

  25. Aarti, yeay for reading what we want!

    Jackie, I think your point is key: looking down on other’s choices is where the problems begin!

    Claire, when I was a kid I went by authors: read all the books by an author I loved before going on to the next. I don’t do that often enough anymore!!

    Melissa, and yet, we each have our own choices for what is worth our time! Like you say, I’m not spitting on other people’s choices, but saying “I choose not to read it!”

    Nymeth, See, I’d say “discerning” is the same as “selecting.” I.e., discerning means figuring out or something. So that comment in terms of you doesn’t make sense! You have discerned that you’d like to read comics for example.

    Emily, I love the snobs and slobs discussion! Thanks for pointing the way.

    Teresa, I’m with you on the Dan Brown thing. But probably the people who love Dan Brown think he deserves the publicity over Wilkie Collins. Are they likewise Dan Brown elitists? I think it goes both ways. I’m not turning up my nose at Dan Brown for those who like it but I’m not going to read him again anytime soon (and yes, I’ve read a few of his books…)

    Vasilly, Great points! Personally, I don’t like recommending books to people because I always feel my favorites are different from the norm so I never know what others will think of them…

    Chris, it is sad but it’s also happy to think I have so many more years of reading ahead of me!!

    Sylvia, oh I’m not smart. That is the point. I have just seen people express the worry that because they read “classics” they will be considered “snobby” and I think that’s not necessary!

    And I enjoy both the classics and Harry Potter, for example!

    claire, yes, I’m realizing that in order to read like I want to, I can’t do as many challenges. Which is sad since I loved making the lists and displaying the buttons (I’m so superficial at heart. I like pretty things.) Isn’t it great though to be able to select whatever we want to read next?!

  26. Rebecca, I think that in some people’s heads it means, “selecting what *I* consider to be worthwhile literature” 😛

    I’ve read all the comments now, and some very interesting points were made. So thank you for opening the discussion!

  27. I don’t care that I’m way late, I’m still going to comment on this. 😀

    It occurred to me recently that since beginning book blogging, I’ve worked to broaden my reading. Which is great, but I think it’s time to focus more on deep reading. I made a list of authors I loved that I want to read more of, and I plan on focusing mainly on their titles next year (I used that list for many of my challenge selections). I’m really excited about it, and I feel relieved to have given myself permission to NOT try to read everything (at least in a year). Looking at my list, there are a lot of classic authors and international ‘literary-ish’ authors on there…but I don’t think that makes me a snob. Because, honestly, every author on that list has brought me joy with their books; they’re not there to look good but because I adore them. To me, there’s a difference between being a snob and knowing your own taste; obviously you totally agree so I won’t go into that further. 🙂 Oh, and I’ve totally met some reading snobs (and music snobs…and travel snobs…etc., etc.); I think the difference is that they name drop and try to outdo each other in obscurity. 😉 Like several commenters, the main form of snobbery I notice among certain book review columns is that they privilege ‘literary’ contemporary white male authors and think that non ‘literary’ genres are automatically lesser. I find that ridiculous and infuriating.

  28. You make a very good point. Since one can’t possibly read every book published, we all make choices when picking our books. Choosing to read a biography of Wilkie Collins instead of Twilight is a matter of taste, not necessarily a “snobbish” choice.

  29. Wonderful post! I think it’s important to be selective. I suppose I am a snob. I hardly read classics or literary fiction exclusively, but I try to read good books, books with substance, books that aren’t churned out as if on a conveyor belt. I think in this country we have become afraid of the word “intellectual.” Nobody wants to be considered a snob, but I don’t think we should pretend all types of reading are equal.

    I love reading book blogs because they have helped me expand my reading, but I try to seek out what seem the *best* examples of any genre. I tend to think of book blogs like food blogs: I will always be interested in food blogs that discuss food that’s nutritional and tasty, with the occasional splurge. I will never be interested in food blogs dedicated only to Twinkies, white bread, and supermarket candy. I am shocked by readers who seem dedicated to trash (in any genre). And yes, I am sorry: there’s a lot of trash out there.

  30. Eva, I look forward to hearing more about which authors and books are on you 2010 “list”!

    Alessandra, isn’t it great that there are books for EVERY taste! I love it!

    Priscilla, Interesting analogy to the Twinkie blogs. I, too, wouldn’t want to read “Twinkies” all the time. In fact, I don’t really like Twinkies to begin with. But I can understand people that like eating them every now and then, as a special treat!

  31. Great post. I’ve been called a snob many times in my life because of my taste in books and what I’ve come up with is this- someone calls someone else a snob (first of all, how childish, right?) because that person is insecure about his or her own tastes and gets hostile and nervous when his/her own tastes aren’t validated by that of someone else. And I think that applies across the board- genre fans call me a snob because I don’t read the stuff they like, and lit fic readers call them snobs because they won’t read what they like. It’s all kind of silly. We all know there isn’t enough time to read everything; we know we all try to read things we hope we’ll enjoy and avoid the things we think we won’t. It’s too bad we can’t all respect each other enough or feel good enough about ourselves to not to be bothered that someone else chooses something different.

  32. i always bookmark food blogs becuase i want to look at new recipes.,.”

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