Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday Chatter #7: Why you shouldn't be ashamed by what you read

Wednesday Chatter is a weekly feature at Ruby's Books where we'll be talking about anything and everything related to books and reading. Click here if you want to see what we talked about in the previous weeks

WARNING: Some bad words might be used in the following post. Don't say I didn't warn you!

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The idea for this post came to me while I was filling in the Fairytale Survey that Mel did on her blog. There was this question on if you've ever lied about what you were reading or if you've ever felt ashamed by the books you were reading.

I know there are a lot of people who might feel ashamed by what they read and I know there are many, many people that are acting like assholes and make you want to fell ashamed of what you read. My answer to those snobs is a big "Fuck you!" And I have a few explanations on why that answer is valid.

First of all, literature is a form of art. Now, I know you probably already know that (DUH!). But what you might have forgotten is that art is subjective. What I like and love isn't necessarily liked or loved by someone else and vice versa. So I'm pretty sure I can give the title "art" to anything I want to give it to. And that's true for music, it's true for sculpture, painting, cinema, theater and so on. I don't remember it being illegal to like something someone else doesn't.

Second of all, I'd like to invite those who try to tell me I'm reading crappy books to put it all on the table. You want to analyse what I enjoy? Fine, let's do that, I won't mind it. But let's do the same with your tastes in literature. I'll bet you most of those people will tell you that Lolita is a wonderful piece of literature and that it's 100% better than the erotic romance I'm reading. So basically a book about an older man and an underage girl is better than two consenting adults. That has me confuddled.

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Now, you might argue that I just simplified the meaning of Nabokov's book and I did. I know that. But don't you do the same with me when you say I should be ashamed of the books I enjoy reading? Don't you simplify and belittle something that you haven't even read (just like I haven't read Lolita) just because you think "modern" literature is crap? Isn't that the same thing? 

Another thing that you should think about while some people try to make you feel bad for what you read. Over the last few years there have been a lot of studies that prove the benefits of reading. I won't get into them, because then this post would never end, but basically reading is good for you. I've read some of those studies (not all, just a few) and I have yet to encounter one that says the positive long-term effects apply to certain genres or authors. Reading in general is good for you, no matter what it is that you read. So there's another reason why books and shame don't really belong together in the same sentence.

I could probably spend hours talking about this subject, but the point is this: if it makes you happy, read WHAT YOU WANT and tell everyone that judges you to fuck off. Yes, people might give you strange looks if the book you're holding has a bare-chested hunky guy on the cover, but so what? You're doing something fun that is harmful to no one. Wait, I take that back, it might be harmful to yourself, in case the book is too sexy and you start getting all tingly inside.

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How is reading something you enjoy any different than listening to your favorite band in your car and singing along at the top of your lungs? It's not. My BFF, whom I've known since we were kids, doesn't always like the same bands or songs or books or even movies that I do. Doesn't mean I think she's a bad human. I accept and completely understand that she has her own tastes, just like I have mine. Hell, I'd be freaked out if everyone liked the same things I did. Just remember, don't judge them for not having the same tastes as you do. And when they judge you, just form a fist and extend the middle finger and shove it in their faces. It only matters what you feel and as long as you're happy, that should be enough.
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