Thursday Thoughts: Bookish Shame

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Thursday Thoughts is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Ashley from Ok, Let’s Read. This week’s topic is bookish shame and her question is, essentially, whether we should or should not feel ashamed for reading what we read – Young Adult, New Adult. Should I, as an adult (I’m 27) feel like my choice of reading material is shameful?

Well, my answer to that would be: NO. I know this topic stems from a very heated debate on whether the adults are encroaching the teens’ territory, whether we should be reading the “serious” stuff, whether we are actually childish and underdeveloped if we read YA books … I find this so absurd I can’t even be bothered to get angry over it.

Judging the books’ value based on their target audience is not only entirely stupid, it’s incredibly insulting towards writers of YA, NA and Children’s Lit. It’s saying that a book intended for young readers isn’t as good as a book intended for adults, and that it can’t deal with “serious” and “deep” topics. So I’m just going to leave this debate here and move onto the part of bookish shame that does get me riled up! :)

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I can say with certainty that most of the books I read for pleasure (= not for work or studies) belong to either fantasy or romance genres. And I repeatedly find myself in a situation where I have to defend my choice of reading material to people who think that I should be reading more “serious” literature – along the lines of classics and Booker Prize / Pulitzer nominees. I manage to explain some of the books by saying I’m reading them for my PhD (which focuses on translated bestsellers for teens) or for my work (I’ve translated both YA fantasy and historical romance), but I never actually tell people other than my husband just how many romances or fantasy novels I’ve read. My husband is the one person who knows the real numbers – partly because we live together (duh), but mostly because he accepts my book tastes as an essential part of what I am. He’s a great guy.

if you dareI have a personal Goodreads account apart from the one I use for my blog and I never tag all the books I’ve read on it, just because I’m worried people might think less of me for reading what they think is trash. And I hate this, I really do. I hate that I feel I have to apologize for reading romance, I hate that I feel like I have to hide the book’s cover if it looks like this –> so people won’t know what I’m reading. I hate that there’s still this prevailing attitude that only people who can’t read serious, shoot-me-in-the-head-boring literature read romance and fantasy, as if these two genres were incapable of including outstanding prose and dealing with damn serious topics. I hate that I have to pretend that I’m a different sort of a reader than I really am.

I’ve read my fair share of classics, probably more than most of the people who would judge me now, and I liked them. I still read them from time to time, when one of them intrigues me enough or when I feel I should really have it in my arsenal. I also read contemporary adult novels if they come recommended by readers I trust. But I refuse to read staid, decrepit books (either old or new) just for the sake of reading them and then bragging about them to judgemental people.

There. I said it. :) I really don’t know if I’ll be able to implement this newfound courage and resolve outside this blog, but I’m glad I got it off my chest! My strategy so far has been to keep quiet about what I do and do not read, and to try and find people with similar tastes. This is why it’s such a great relief to be a part of the blogging community where people get just as excited about books that I’m “not supposed to like”. I love you guys.

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Do you feel this way when you’re reading the books of your choice? 

Do you ever feel judged? 

Share your thoughts (and T.T. links, if you have them)!

 

  • Brilliant answer! I am sad you feel you can’t add all the books you have read to Goodreads for fear that people will judge you – that sucks! But I understand why you feel that way, people can be really judgemental. I am not a huge reader of romance or erotica, I really don’t like most of it – but I never judge those who do. That’s a personal thing to me but I realise everyone is different, it would be a pretty boring world if we weren’t. I don’t think the blogging community would judge you for what you read, we share a love of books but we don’t have to all love the same genre! I hope you build up the courage to add all your books to Goodreads soon :) Here’s my answer.

    • Kaja

      Hi, thanks for the comment and commiseration :)
      I totally agree that the blogging community is really supportive – though I tend to gravitate towards those blogs that feature books I like as well!
      I don’t really know why I’m so sensitive about what other people think … I really do have to get over it :)

  • I definitely feel like people might judge me for the books I’m reading! Especially since my mother reads my blog. So far I just screw up my courage and post it anyway, whether it be cutesy romance or adult fantasy or non-fiction books about anxiety. But it is kinda intimidating: people can be so judgey. Knowing that, I try not to be — certainly not based on genre, anyway. Maybe a little about books I have actually read and have personal knowledge of!

    My thoughts.

    • Kaja

      Hi, Nikki, thanks for stopping by :)
      I haven’t told my Mom I write a blog yet. I’m still a baby blogger, so I haven’t really told many people about my writings, but there will come a time when I’ll “be discovered”. I hope that by then, I’ll be all tough and weathered :)
      Also, if I judge, I try to judge the book/author and not the readers for liking it!

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