Reading has always been a necessity in my life. In kindergarten the “Magic Tree House” series entranced me and I’ve never looked back.
Though my taste in genre has since expanded, I didn’t read so-called classics like “Pride and Prejudice” until this year, which has been a shock to many given that I’m an English major. But just because I haven’t read all of the “best” books doesn’t mean I’m any less of a reader.
The same applies to anyone else. Book snobs and social media discourse would lead us to believe otherwise, but anyone can categorize themselves as a reader.
Though there is no set definition, one English blogger defines a book snob as someone who ridicules popular books or only prizes the “classics.” In my first weeks at IU, I ran into one who laughed in my face when they heard I was an English major who hadn’t read “Wuthering Heights.”
There is definitely room for me to increase my literary knowledge, but there’s no need to promote such an elitist attitude or to create haves and have nots of literary merit in something as simple as reading.
From comics to young adult novels to poetry, all book genres and book interests are valid. My roommate reads manga. My mom is big on self-help books. While I think of myself as an avid fiction reader, that doesn’t mean I take others’ reading any less seriously.
Beyond the typical book snob suggestions, Barnes & Noble, one of the largest bookstores across the country, has an entire category on their website dedicated to BookTok, a side of TikTok in which books rise to major popularity. According to NPR, Colleen Hoover, a popular young adult fiction author, saw an increase in sales of “It Ends With Us,” a book that was published in 2016, all because of BookTok.
Most of these books tend to be recently released young adult novels or classics. If someone’s for you page is consistently showing BookTok videos, they might begin to believe that these are the only books of value when that’s just not true.
Of course these books are worthwhile. I’ve read many of the books that have risen to popularity, from “The Great Gatsby” to “They Both Die at the End.” But these aren’t the only books of substance.
I know this seems rather silly to care about — but it is something I am passionate about. As books become increasingly discussed on various internet platforms, it’s easy for this book snob mentality to deter newcomers from entering into the reading community.
Now, finding comfort in a community of people who like to read is obviously not nearly as important as other social groups that exist, like queer or racial minority communities. But, during a pandemic, during college, during really any phase of life, a little reader community can go a long way.
This makes me sound like a newly retired lady who drinks tea and reads all day, but I’ve recently joined a book recommendation group on Facebook, and in all honesty, it’s so fun. Reading others’ recommendations, reviews and to-be-read lists is insanely intriguing.
But the only way people can bond over book reading is if we are open to other perspectives and genres. Everyone has their own holy grail book, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only valid book in the universe. A reader of comics is as valid as a reader of poetry who is as valid as a reader of nonfiction.
Elizabeth Valadez (she/her) is a freshman studying English and political science. She is a member of Chi Alpha.