Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dealing with a Book Snob, Per Phaedra Parks

Now I don’t get into bookmanship (just made that up) debates with people often.  Without preamble, I know I have one of those oozing “ain’t no way you can tell me what to do” attitudes.  And it bubbles up especially when someone tries to talk down to me with their angle on the front line.  The memo goes: you can never tell an Aquarius what to do, think, sniff, or taste without opposition.  (Taurus and Scorpios are not to be trifled with as well.)  So that kind of spares me from having to tangle with another’s judgment of my reading choices.  It also serves  to the opposite effect of the wielder.  Nevertheless, with one life in hand, I’m old school and willing to shoot from the hip if admonished about what sits on my nightstand.  
But sometimes the energy between two readers sharing what they’ve read comes vibrating with silent judgments.  Naturally, as a close acquaintance to the often considered “fourth tier” mystery genre, my antennae has caught such in the past.  So I know when a little shade is thrown my way, and will handle it in whatever degree it is given.
But anyway, there’s always been this despairing conversation between literary fiction and commercial fiction.  Literature versus genre fiction.  YA versus adult books.  Read only books written by this group of people; or that.  Hell, physical book versus e-readers is in there as well.  It’s almost par the course for us bookworms.  I blame the once elitist aura books and reading had (and generated) centuries ago.  You know, when only Anglo men could be accounted for constructing what was in and what was not.  But digressing to the present; sometimes, when caught in defending your reading choices, you just got to let a judgmental snob know what time it is.  "Time" as in you don't have it for his or her shit.
And here lies “Dealing with a Book Snob.  Per Phaedra Parks.”
The Snob Who Thinks He Should School You

Now here's one thing I can’t stand.  You ever run into someone so high on their own reading fumes that he or she tries to tell you to ingest their opinion/perception of a particular book over your own? Furthermore, finding him or herself getting enraged because you continue to contest their view upon their pressure to convert?  And even furthermore, begins to take the matters personally by attacking you and your intelligence?
Chile, remind this person God gave you two good eyes, a couple of ears, and enough brain power to think for yourself–just as they supposedly have.  (I say "supposedly" because some folks follow the literary criticisms of critics to shape their thoughts.)

Story time.  I once worked at a bookstore hosting one of those 12am events for a young adult author named Christopher Paolini.  I think it was Paolini's third book releasing or something.  Anyway, all the employees stood prepared; boxes out, registers awaiting the crushing line.  And here I was stuck with this guy who wouldn't shut up about his criticisms of the books and the event.  And he was telling it to someone (myself) who didn't have a dog in the fight, and was just ready to go home and go to sleep.  Snarling at the line, he wouldn't shut up muttering about why people lined up so late for the book.  Already mad because I had to turn around and open, I, in so many words, informed him of how petty he sounded over a damn book release.  The light kind of flickered in his eyes afterward.  
Something in that second book in Paolini's series really got to him, I guess.  But why stand around angry at those who've continued forward in excitement?  And spewing complaints to somebody oblivious to the series and the reason behind your contempt?  Save that drama for the message boards.
The Snob Who Turns His Nose Up to "Mainstream" Reading

Ugh.  The ones that get on my nerves the most.  My goodness, people will find what they choose to find in whatever they choose to partake in reading.  Don't get me wrong–because there is a such thing as talent and quality.  However, I think it's safest to keep it in relative terms.  Or let an individual decide what each means to him or herself.  
While forever useful and necessary, reading goes beyond the reverse engineering of exposition, prose, and narrative.  No matter how much some pretentious readers insist on fussing otherwise.  To me, reading begins as an intimate and personal experience.  And I know this may sound fundamental and cliche, but it's to capture our imaginations.  Imaginations led down the portals of voices, conflict, ideas, and stories.  I also believe in a soothing and healing property pulled by reading.  A Circo soft fleece blanket draped over the brain seems to come to mind.  Nevertheless, if anything, the activity alone can keep us out of trouble.  So standards, quality, and random BS aside, we choose what we want to read because there are inner nudges that require sating before anything else.
Story time.  I remember one summer I’d just completed my second semester at a new university.  I was at a job where I was working only one day out of the week stocking merchandise.  So I was broke.  Could only pay my cell phone bill and maybe groceries.  Until school started, or I could figure out what to do, all I had was a stack of pre-collected Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.  An electrical fuse (or something to my non-electrician nature) went bad.  This left certain areas of the house without light for a month that June.  And night after night, by an un-shaded lamp lit via a drop cord trailing down the hall, I would read these books with all the contentment in the world.  I didn’t care if they were defined as commercial or mainstream reading.  I just knew I had a stack of books serving me the troubled stories of a telepathic waitress in Louisiana, who kept her ass in trouble traversing the local vampire and werewolf politics.  Meanwhile, book after book, I anxiously stuck around to see how she would handle her screwed-up love life.

That was also the period where, after a year of sitting on my shelf, I finally picked up my first Patricia Cornwell novel, The Body Farm (things haven't been the same since).  I also remember the night I spent reading Falling Leaves by Adeline Yah Mah in under five hours.  Oh, without moving!
A memorable and comforting period indeed.  Thanks to books.

The Snob Who Proclaims to Only Read Classics and Award Winners

Oh, Jesus.  These folks get on my nerves too.  It’s like we get it.  You wouldn’t catch yourself dead with a James Patterson book.  Cool.  Nobody has an issue with that.  Until one turns his nose at those who do or dabble in the “otherwise.”  
For me, I go for what I want; be it Classics, Award Winners, or your “standard variety” Street Lit book.  If it catches my attention at the right time, I’ll go for it.  Though I have gradients of interest, in the whole I consider myself a promiscuous reader.
But seriously.  It’s like: Chileeeee, ain’t nobody checking for you just because you’re trying to fit in with big boys, while giving the rest of us agonistic tease.  It’s okay to swallow your compunction for a second, and dive into something that calls you elsewhere.  Additionally, without fussing and raving and having an attitude about your standards if the two don't fasten together. 
Story time: Being a part of Booktube for the past three years, I’ve seen videos where people sort of suffix a particular genre, author, or book with the word “shit.”  Like Young Adult-shit.  Or Clive Cussler-shit.  Etcetera and so forth before professing the magnificent magnitude of, say (example, people), a Leo Tolstoy.  And believe me, that’s all well and good; you can hardly argue certain variances.  But I always finding myself thinking, “Umm, and who are you again?”  I can’t stomach that type of attitude.  To me, readers who do that are basically telling those who enjoy certain authors, genres, and books that they aren’t “shit” for reading them.  What upsets me even more is when people mob up in the comments and agree.  Especially after the individual has spoken out so clearly about a genre, book, or author said commenter has shown interest in.

No ma'am.  No God.  Couldn't be me, girl.
That is not cute nor becoming.  What does anyone get out of making someone feel insecure about what they love to read?
Therefore, we're done.

The Snob Who Only “Guess” It’s Good...

…That someone's book choices–which they've a low regard for from the jump–is a least reading.  
You’ve probably heard someone say this before: “at least you/they’re reading.”  Personally, I find the statement has a certain arrogance to it.  It kind of gives me that same cringe I get when some readers say a certain book/author/genre isn’t their “cup of tea.”  It’s a strange couple of phrases that sometimes draws a side-eye out of me, mostly after I've shared what's been hobbling on my nightstand.  
But anyway, about the "guess" phrase; expressing how you “guess” it’s good that someone is at least reading is just too passive of a judgment.  To me the sluggish and flaccid “guess” implies how another individual should catch up with the speaker's particular taste in books?  You know, for inclusion purposes–to say the least.
But really, why would anyone want to be like someone stuffy about books?  Especially if you can't share your reads without a passive judgment in return?
So I give these snobs the side-eye and keep it pushing.  Ain't nobody got time for that.
The Snob Who Tries Too Hard

Oh God.  The validation necessary to deal with this one.  This kind of snob insists on knocking stars off a majority ruled good book, just to fluff a George Hughes complex.  Now of course it’s a given we all can’t see books the same.  That's not my conversation here.  However, there’s always that one extra vocal person that takes the most banal and infinitesimal of things in a book and turn it into something striking and immense just to volley the opinions of others.  And, of course, done so for the majestic pledge of upstaging everyone’s intelligence and readership. 
Let's just paint a picture.  

So you’re left scratching your head at his outrage, because you thought it was a decent book serving you four stars.  However, your buddy has reduced it down to one.  He's upset with something within the material.  His problem could stem from a piece of misguided prose or overused surplusage. He wants you to understand how dinky you are for not picking up on his problem with the  book.  What he doesn't realize is that it's something you did notice, but ultimately found it obscure to your overall enjoyment and rating of the book.
But all you can do is sit there and nod as he gathers markers and cardboard to make signs for his campaign.

Help him, Jesus.  It ain't that deep.

So in closing, just let'em know...

Well that's it, guys.  I'll cap this off here and let you all fill in the rest.  Hope you enjoyed this post and laughed as much as I did writing it.
(The gifs)

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