Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Confessions of a Recovering Book Snob

Hi. I'm Jena, and it's been sixteen days since I last scoffed at a book.

Until the beginning of fall semester, my bookstore trips were always the same. I would hold my round little nose high in the air and briskly make my way to the nice display of B&N classics in the middle of the store. My hands would clutch the bound pages of dead authors like an alcoholic sips on his dirty martini from a fancy, funnel-shaped glass. It wasn't so much that I had to read the classics. They were just the only novels I would deign to read. I didn't do this intentionally. It was just apart of my thinking. Innate. Second nature. I clung to Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina while other girls were reading Lori Wick or Karen Kingsbury's latest romance. That's just the way it was.

I had a professor beginning of junior year who was like this. She would wrinkle her large, crooked nose like she was smelling sour milk at anyone who wasn't Chaucer. He had so many historical/mythological allusions, beautiful descriptions, and crazy plot lines. So many layers. Not to mention he wrote in Middle English, which is [not-so-obviously] superior to the language you and I speak. In her mind, no one could possibly compare to him. This made her reading list a rather short one.

Needless to say, I was not a fan of Joyce Coleman.
I mean, how ignorant?

She wouldn't dare touch anything outside of the English canon. Some of the best-selling, most talented authors of our generation she would simply sneer at. The ultimate book snob. That October lecture [in a small way] changed my life. I realized that I was [maybe not as boldly] walking in the same ignorant footsteps. She only read Chaucer, I only read the classics.

As someone who wants to go into publishing, this is just stoooopid.

Sure, not all the books on the B&N shelves are going to be read in classrooms. In a few years, the majority will go out of print and enter into the limbo world between the publishing house and the bookstores' shelves.

But does this automatically discredit them? Wasn't Chaucer just another dreamer with a pen until someone read his words? I mean, there was a time before Chaucer was Chaucer and Tolstoy was Tolstoy. Right?

The past few months I have been doing my darndest to not wind up like Joyce Coleman. I grab books, read their back covers, and take them home if they sound interesting. Not because I've heard of the author. Not because they are sitting under the "Classic Literature" sign. Because I want to. Because, as an aspiring editor, I need to. I've already discovered some real treats. I even deigned to read the Twilight saga last year. And although I was grossly disappointed after the first one, it's still an excellent series [for me] to be reading. I need to understand why these poorly structured, but for some reason oh-so-captivating novels are flying off the shelves.

Every time I finish a novel now, I rate it. Thumbs up? Double thumbs down? My list has been growing exponentially within recent months. I'm a fairly fast reader, but I'm trying to increase my speed with each book I pick up. Reading is just so important. The options are absolutely limitless. I don't want to be stuck in a genre or time period. I don't want to have a limited list of authors I deem worthy of being read. I want to be an avid reader across the board, eager to discover interesting pieces whoever the author may be! So the next time you're at a book store, take a look around. Pick something new up. Try a different genre, a new author.

Go ahead, unsnob yourself.


  1. This is such a great post. I love it. You are awesome.

  2. Great post. Loved the shout out to my girl Karen. Although she may not be the best writer (I don't know?!) I like the easy to read story. But like you, I am open to other authors. Once I finish the 14 books series. yikes!