Tag Archives: benefits of reading

Taking on book snobs: A manifesto for readers

By Claire W. Staley

In my literary exploits, I have been confronted with many people who disagree with the kind of books I read. This is a wonderful thing. However, I sometimes find that they transfer this distaste to me as a person, and I suddenly find myself placed in a small box and dismissed.

You, my good sir or m’am, are a book snob.

And the fact is, no kind of book is better or worse than any other, and here is why:

  1.   That person you just placed judgment upon? They are buying books, which benefits authors and publishers alike, and thus benefits readers. More buyers, more books. It’s simple.
  2.   You never know what someone is getting out of a book. Stop expecting everyone that reads 50 Shades of Grey to be desperate and unimaginative. Plenty of smart, intelligent, well-rounded people read those books, and plenty of not so smart, intelligent, and well-rounded people read them as well. Just like with every book, every reader finds something different in a book. If someone connects with the characters of 50 Shades of Grey, crushing that connection not only undermines the book industry, but you as well.
  3.   Others might not enjoy the kinds of books you enjoy. How would it feel if someone put you down for that? The Golden Rule from kindergarten still applies in reading and book loving social etiquette.
  4.   Most people who get made fun of for what they read really don’t care what your opinion is. I adore Harry Potter, but do I force anyone else to join me on my fangirling? I do not. And yet people still scoff and make fun of me for loving it. But I can assure you that your opinion of me doesn’t change my love for it, because I gained a better understanding of myself and the world through reading those books.
  5.   You are basing an entire person on one choice they make. For instance, I love fantasy and sci-fi. I am immediately grouped with the nerds and the wallflowers–happily grouped with them , I might add–and others look down on me for it. That is not my entire personality, and while I recognize that I have many facets to my personality, being placed in a box and dismissed can cause some frustration.
  6.   I am a Twilight fan. I read all the books and loved them. I’ve read them multiple times, actually. I have people telling me in real life and on the Internet that they are stupid and vapid and anti-feminist, and by extension everyone who reads them are as well. But something about Bella helped me feel not so alone in the world. To degrade something like that, and make me embarrassed about it, is to make someone else feel more alone in the world and destroys the connections and discussion that can come from books.
  7.   You take away magic when you degrade books and those who read them. The stories we believe in and the characters we love are invaluable. If someone said that your boyfriend or girlfriend was stupid or embarrassing, you would probably punch them, right? Well that’s how lots of people, including myself, feel about books and characters. We have found something to love in them, and just because others cannot see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just because I don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t true for you and vice versa. There may be value, even when it isn’t obvious.

8.   You’re missing out on valuable discussions. Try “I’ve never really gotten into that genre of books. What do you like about it?” or “I’m not familiar with that story.” Then share what you like to read. But don’t snub others because of their choices in books. They most likely love to talk about books, no matter what kind, and that’s a wonderful thing. They are expanding their minds. They are traveling to other places with incredible people. Maybe, if you’re nice, they’ll bring you along with them. Wouldn’t that be a treat?

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Why I believe in magic and fairytales at age 21

By Claire W. Staley

When one turns 21, as I did recently, one is expected to indulge in the “adult” practices of alcohol, practicality, and business meetings. After all, I am no longer a teenager (which brought on a brief existential crisis at 20), and I am far beyond the time when I believed fairies existed under each flower petal and mermaids swam in the oceans (although I’m still not prepared to give up the latter). I am a fully functioning college student beginning to understand financial aid, cooking, and her own bedtime…sort of. The fact is, Santa Claus isn’t real, my pet dragon is actually imaginary, and true love’s kiss won’t break any spell.

What confuses me most is that I barely noticed these changes as birthdays passed. I can’t pinpoint the moment when my dolls became plastic instead of people, when I stopped looking for faerie circles in the woods, and when creating my own elven language lost it’s thrill. They just faded away, and I miss the sense of adventure they brought to my life. I miss the way it made anything exciting and created a world that only I could see. Something I could understand.

And now I have term papers and tests and loud dorm mates that make me question my belief in not killing people. My willpower against the latter prevails.

However, as I was rereading Harry Potter for the umpteenth time, I realized something. Perhaps my way to find magic had just changed. There was certainly magic in these books, because the magic was happening inside my head and I was living it. And that is real. It is a tangible thing to be captivated by a book, to be so entrenched in the story and the characters that you cry and laugh and mourn them, to feel the real and powerful sadness that comes with a certain character dying, to love Isabella in The Pirate of Panther Bay like a sister, and to feel as in love with Augustus Waters as Hazel Grace is (in The Fault in Our Stars).

Perhaps, as an adult, magic has just changed. And who knows, really, if there are fairies underneath flower petals. They wouldn’t let us see them anyway, so does it matter? Perhaps I should just remember that not everything in the world needs or wants an answer. And perhaps I am quite happy with filling that space with this particular kind of magic.

It’s way more fun for the world to have magic in it anyway. So who cares if there is or there isn’t any. I’m happy just believing that I can be flown on a dragon to a pirate ship in another world.

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