I didn't think I'd ever say it out loud, but here I am, saying it and feeling really terrible about it. It all started when I was reading a badly written book; it was okay to a point but then it got boring, I ditched the book. It was no biggie, it wasn't the first book I'd ditched, isn't the last.
But I spoke to a few of my friends and I got similar reactions. I felt so connected to people because of this mutual "looking down upon". For argument sake let's say I read 'Twilight'. It's one thing to have a preference, but I felt like I could do so much better than read Meyer. What's wrong with that? Nothing on the surface of it. But when this hate started piling up, I noticed I felt like I was a part of a bullying gang.
So here's something I really want to say out loud; I'd like to call it a list of realizations.
- Not liking a book is okay, ganging up to hate it is not. We sit in our highchairs and pretend we're better, our tastes are eclectic, we're somehow entitled to have a better opinion because we read a Murakami or a James Joyce.
- No, we're not any more cultured than the next person who says they don't like some actor. Our hobby is just a hobby even to the point of obsession and it has not made us smart.
- Well read does not mean better - I could have read all the "must reads" but that does not qualify me to be a better person. I could still be the shallowest person around.
- Your hobby. That's the bottom line. It's just another thing you do just so spend time, you like flipping though pages, somebody else likes collecting matchbox covers. Both are on the exact same footing. There is no "better hobby"
- I'm sorry, but reading is not license to be a pretentious nutcase, I see people doling out advice like there's no tomorrow. I've done it myself. Fact of the matter is, there's only that much you can gain from books. Life's very different. It helps a tiny bit, but damn it doesn't go beyond that.
- You are doing no-one a favour; Often readers are given this false delusion that somehow they are the reason the world is better. We all read to make ourselves feel better. I for most parts am reading to escape. I had to consciously stop telling myself that I was doing the world a favour.
- "better than thou" is a common problem, we're not better than XYZ authors. If we had our names on a best selling list, then may be we'd have a little say in what's good and what isn't. But as for us readers, a mere consumer of yet another product, sorry; we don't get judgement. We get preference, much like any other product. If not a pulitzer, at least a published piece of thing we can call a book.
- Growing up, you are no more mature than the next person, ah! I hate it when people look at my young adult novels and roll their eyes. Sorry, reading a grown up book is not a rite of passage into adulthood. I will not take you seriously just because you read some fancy ass novel.
- Reading is not equal to bragging rights. Nope. I've read 20 books this year, means nothing.
I had an epiphany or sorts a few days ago. I was on a reading and writing sabbatical. I didn't have the inclination. I would often ask myself how I'm giving up a part of my identity so easily and I would sit up and buy a book, I'd feel better. I'd even read it. But then, I also realised that all the time I didn't read, I was not missing 'making the world a better place'. I was simply missing my hobby, that's all. I went back to reading, I picked up some book and started reading knowing fully well that the only thing that was changing was me. the only favour was on myself. If I quit reading today, no one would lose anything. My reading does not allow me a high chair.
Why I'm writing this post is simple, I was reading my all time favourite "Date a girl who reads" a post that makes me smile every single time, this time it got me thinking. Why do I think I'm any better than someone who doesn't read? How do I become any more "educated"? How did a bunch of people decide one hobby was better than the other, more intellectual than the other? Writing a book is an intellectual process, reading not so much. If you've gone through a standard set of emotion like everybody else and are decently educated in any language, any book is easy enough to read. I'm sorry for bursting my own bubble, but I thought it was so necessary to say that I had to dump these delusions.
Yes, I've more things to talk about thanks to my reading, but that's really where the list ends.