Book snobbery

Megan Coles
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

This summer saw the electronic reader emerge as the future reality of vacation reading.

Staunch bibliophiles like myself have even been seduced by the mobility of these devices. I developed a fast friendship with my Kindle after receiving it as a birthday present last year. It is a brilliant little gadget that stores multiple books, magazines and newspapers in one slim screen the size of a paperback. A blessing considering everything else in my purse I've deemed a necessity of travel. My phone, wallet, sunglasses, lip balm, notebook, pen, pencil, purse hook, iPod, camera, USB, etc, etc.

And I won't go anywhere with less than a couple books. Eight-hundred pages or more if the flight is over four hours. I even packed hard cover books when we moved to Asia a number of years ago. The boyfriend thought I was cracked and assured me multiple times that there would be English language books in Korea. I read two on the flight over and lusted after the others in my checked baggage. This would never be the case now as I fully load the Kindle before even the shortest flights. Hell, you never know when you'll get stuck on the tarmac and Halifax airport is one of the dullest places on earth. The e-reader by all accounts is a game changer and not the least in that it provides cover against the most irritating of holiday predators.

The ever self-righteous, wholly pretentious and incredibly judgemental book snob.

Now, I have encountered book snobs in all manners of speaking throughout my reading life and I will confess to having had deluded stints of book-snobbery myself.

To be sure, writers in general have a tendency toward this type of ridiculous behaviour and I am no exception. Great helpings of condescension are served up freely at Memorial University, condescension being the only thing that doesn't cost your financial independence over at ol' MUN. And I swallowed it down with the rest of the liberal arts majors.

I regurgitated eagerly and often and no more so then when I was around my immediate family. It wasn't sufficient that my little sisters read. It wasn't enough that my dad would read anything or that my mother read nursing textbooks. Oh no. They had to read the right books. The books that I had come to understand were of superior intellect. So I started forcing said books on my entire family. With conviction. It's a wonder any of them still read at all.

Then things changed. I went to theatre school in the hipster capital of Canada and had an epiphany. You can walk into any cafe in the plateau of Montreal and find young men wearing scarves reading Kerouac and Amis. Proust and Chaucer were proudly displayed on bookshelves while Dawkins and Chompsy took up residence on bedside tables throughout the Belle Provence. But here's the thing.

These books were covered in dust. They were covered in dust because no one was actually reading them. Or had read them. And that guy in the cafe, he's been on the same chapter for three months. I discovered after trying to engage people in conversation that no one had actually read the any of the books they so blatantly advertised.

Because reading books you do not enjoy leads people to believe that they don't enjoy reading so they don't read at all. And who perpetuates this vicious cycle. Writers! Book snobs! The people who are supposed to love reading the most. Now if that's not some twisted, sadistic, self-sabotage, I don't know what is.

So I've changed my battle cry. I don't give a rat's what you read as long as you do. The boyfriend's mother and I share an insatiable love of historical fiction. Does this garner me admiration when I read it in public? No. But who cares? The people who are embarrassed by such things are often insecure and shallow. What do I care what they think of my choice of fiction? Or that, god forbid, I'm reading fiction at all. Read whatever you like. And if that happens to be Dan Brown or Candace Bushnell, then buy an e-reader. The pompous British professor on the deckchair next to you will be infuriated when he is unable to judge you and your book by its cover.



Geographic location: Asia, Korea, Halifax Canada Montreal

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page