There is a war being waged on literary snobbery. It has been discussed since I’ve learned to follow bookish sites and forums, most likely even earlier than that, of course. It seems that this is something that will never end because there is so much to talk about it and the results are always open-ended. Hence, the restlessness of it.
I don’t mean to jump in, but the term literary snob strikes a deep chord within me. I realize that for the past few years, I’ve been trying to prove to my friends that I am not one. Sure, people get that impression, but what can I do? Maybe I am. Are you now jumping into conclusions? Why judge me? Why hate me?
But before that, just what is a literary snob? Who can we call as such? Literary snobbery is probably one of those terms whose definition cannot be pinned down, but one knows one when he or she encounters one.
I hope there is litmus test for literary snobbery to make this easier, but the fact is this isn’t as easy as that and it probably never will be. My being complicated, which I am loving, kind of makes it harder. So yes, I will try to gauge my level of literary snobbery. I say that because I think there is a literary snob in each of us. While we’re at it, I will also try to identify the kind of literary snob that I am.
1. Do I only read classics, literary fiction, or translations? Do I avoid self-published books, bestsellers, genre fiction, feel-good books, easy books, or books published after a certain decade?
No and no. If you’ve been following my blog for the past few years, you’ll see that I’ve dabbled into various genres. I admit though that my preferred genres are classics and literary fiction, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You can’t bash my head with a baseball bat for not choosing genre fiction as much as I can’t do the same to those who prefer it.
I guess this is a case of double standards. But since I proclaim preference over the highly arbitrary “literary fiction,” well fine, that’s one notch higher on the snob meter. At least I’m not bashing.
2. Do I hate ebooks?
No. I don’t have an eReader only because I have too many paper books. A lot of my books are gathering dust and mold, so a newfangled device will most likely induce more hoarding than what I can handle. At least eBooks don’t gather dust and molds.
The fact that I’m making an excuse not to buy an eReader raises the snob meter a notch higher. Yeah, yeah, I love the smell of books, even if they are moldy and they make me sneeze.
3. Am I a diehard fan of Assumed Literary Writer (ALW)?
I guess I am a diehard fan of ALW if I have read all his or her novels. Now this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Read #1; this is a merely a matter of taste. How much of a fan I am and how I rub it on others is what matters.
I may have recommended the novels of ALW, but only because at certain times, I’m such a rabid fangirl. I shove books to people’s faces, I lend my copies to them, I get overeager, but I don’t remember recommending condescendingly, something like this: if you’re going to read ALW, you have to drop everything. I’ve heard this offline and it made me raise my eyebrow. I wasn’t entirely sure what the speaker is driving at. Is the speaker mocking my ability to focus and understand? Or is the speaker merely hinting at the power of ALW?
Either way, it’s snobby. When it is already imposing and has this tone of superiority, that’s it. No changes on the snob meter.
4. Do you read ALW in public places?
I read in public places, ALW or not. Another one of those double standards. Snob meter is steady.
5. Do I quote ALW during unlikely situations?
I quote books, ALW or not, once in a while because sometimes, it’s fun to quote. Snob meter is still not moving.
6. Do I hate another ALW for being so good?
Yes, I kind of hate James Joyce and Henry Miller but not because of their respective critical acclaim. I don’t let my hatred for them take over me. Perhaps what I mean to say is that I don’t dig their novels. I find them uncomfortable. We all have those books that we don’t like, right?
A few lines up on the snob meter. Why? Because I think I get these writers but really, I don’t. So I’m just going to sneer at everyone who says Ulysses is amazing. After all, it’s something supposedly written for academic debates. Maybe this should be more lines up on the snob meter?
7. Do I tell people what they should read?
I tell people what they might want to read. It’s one of the reasons I have this blog. But to put up a placard and join the campaign is something that I’m not keen on doing. I do wish that people would read more ALW, but that’s it. I will not go out of my way to tell them what his or her novels “really mean” and impose their importance on our lives.
A level up on the snob meter because of my secret wish.
8. Do I look down on other readers and flaunt an assumed superiority over them?
No. Why would I do that?
A dip on the snob meter.
So yeah, the snob meter declares that I am a literary snob. A lukewarm snob, if that’s possible. It is because I read genre fiction (I like sci-fi), young adult fiction (I like John Green), bestsellers (I like Harry Potter), but I wouldn’t go out of my way to wallow in these. I doubt that I’ll declare one of these as my best books (but I still like them).
And you know what? The fact that I am in a book club and that I religiously read all our selections, which are all sorts of books, lowers my literary snobbery. Again, the snob meter’s reading fluctuates, but really, I am fine with it. I’m used to being called one and so far, no one has threatened my life. Yet.
This is part of the Literary Snobbery Series (LSS).