This might be a tad bit of an awkward post, considering I’m definitely going to make a confession during the middle of it, but it’s something that’s been on my brain for a while now, after randomly reading a tweet about it (and I can’t remember where the tweet came from or what it said, unfortunately). But basically, the underlying message is this:
Let them read.
Them is anybody and everybody. Read what, you might ask? The simple answer is: whatever they damn while like and perhaps without the judgment, to boot, yeah? Let’s stop shaming people for wanting to read YA because they aren’t “real books”. Or fantasy because it’s not “real literature”. Whatever the genre, age range or type of book, there is probably someone out there bashing those who love to read it. Hell, it can come down even to a specific book.
Now, full disclosure, this is something I need to work on, too. I definitely used to make fun of people who read Twilight and enjoyed it. When reading regency romances, I called them my “guilty pleasures” and used to actually be ashamed that I read them and loved them as much as I did (and still absolutely do), refusing to purchase any, only checking them out from the library and even not writing reviews over them, because I didn’t want others to think of me as “less of a reader/writer” because I’m addicted to sitting down on a Friday night and devouring a good, smutty regency romance in one sitting (the steamier it gets, the more likely I won’t put it down until I reach the end). Even when I did start writing reviews, I used to clarify and make very clear that these were my guilty pleasures and not the only thing I read.
I know, right?
I’m quite ashamed by that, to be completely honest. It took me a couple years to grow up, honestly, and realize how ignorant and incorrect that opinion is; how you should never judge someone on their choice of book or genre or even if they read or not. Instead, you should be championing the books you both love or celebrating the differences in opinion, capitalizing on the chance to learn about a new genre, series or author that differs from your usual wheelhouse through someone who that is their jam.
I am actively reminding myself of this and working on not being judgmental of others’ book choices and I wish more people would try to do the same. Granted, I’m not saying you need to bury your own opinions about the books you’re reading. You don’t have to love every genre. Though I’ll adore a historical or regency romance, I have almost zero interest in contemporary romances. But that shouldn’t mean I judge those who love them. Likewise when I read a book, I shouldn’t be afraid to voice my real opinion about it, why I truly loved or hated it, backed up with the rationale behind those emotions/opinions. But, if someone else loves a book I hate, I shouldn’t automatically think of them as less or their opinion invalid or wrong.
I’m not sure why this is has been sitting with me so much lately, but it really has. No one should ever feel ashamed to like what they like, especially in the book community. It’s one of the most welcoming communities I know/am a part of and I hate that we are creating disconnect within ourselves in this regard, by shunning people for liking something that has brought us all together: books.
Anyway, that’s where I’m at: a bookworm who loves fantasy of all kinds (but especially epic and urban), slowly getting into sci-fi (usually the lighter, the better), but also enjoys the occasional thriller, mystery or historical fiction, while devouring regency, fantasy and steampunk romances in one sitting (the steamier, the better). I’m not ashamed at all of my passion for these genres, because they help me escape the world and bring me joy in a way nothing else can. I’m also a bookworm who used to be a little too judgmental of others choices, but I’m working to change that, too.
PS: Shameless plug moment, but over at Erlebnisse, by book review blog, I recently participated in a weekly meme, Top Ten Tuesday, where the theme was highlighting ten bookish bloggers people should know. Full transparency, the post didn’t reach as many people as I hoped (and I was hoping it’d reach a lot, because I highlighted some really fantastic bloggers who I’m hoping can be a little more well known), so I’m linking it here, in case anyone wants to take a look! Please read it here.