Tag Archives: tolerance

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 Little People are Central to “St. Nic, Inc.” (No spoilers!)

All my novels grapple with the problems of diversity, tolerance, ethnicity and social justice in some substantive and meaningful way, although always in the context of the story; they are not lectures. In The Pirate of Panther Bay, for example, Isabella is an escaped slave who captains a pirate ship. She has to deal with her own identity and coming of age as a women in a violent, male dominated profession (pirating) and the racism that pervaded the plantation and extraction economies of the world during the 18th century.

So, as I continued to think through the mythology of elves and Santa Claus for the back story in St. Nic, Inc., I began to reflect on little people and dwarves. For some reason which I still don’t completely recall–writing is a process, not a moment in time–I became particularly annoyed by the fact little people were almost always depicted in stereotyped roles in popular culture, particularly movies–munchkins, elves, what have you. But I knew that little people have the same abilities and capabilities as average-sized peopled. Why didn’t we see more of that? So, I began to revise my thinking about little people and elves and thought this might be an opportunity to address issues such as inclusiveness, fairness, prejudice–social justice–through my story. So, the book has several passages that directly confront conventional stereotypes about little people and contrast them with the “reality” of the North Pole in St. Nic, Inc. I am particularly fond of a coffee shop scene in Chapter 10 between an average sized person and a little person, and a very poignant dialogue between two average-sized people on dwarfism and human dignity in Chapter 24.

Read more about the role of little people in St. Nic, Inc. by clicking here:

For more on little people, check out the Little People of America (LPA) website here.

To watch the St. Nic, Inc. trailer, click here.

To buy St. Nic, Inc., click here and help out LPA at the same time!

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