Confess your book biases here
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I was interviewing someone for this article I was writing, and she mentioned she hated reading fiction. I asked her what she read, and she mentioned she only read Christian inspirational books.
OK, I'm a bad person. For one second - just one second - I felt like a superior person just because my taste in books was far more varied than hers. Never mind that she's successful at her career and blessed with a wonderful family. I had the gall to feel bigger than a person because my taste in books was different.
Has that ever happened to you? Do you ever feel like a person's taste in books was a strike against that person? have you ever looked down on someone for that person's inordinate love for a genre you detest?
'Fess up. I know I'm not the only one.
I have no problem with a person's fascination with a genre I usually do not read. To each his own. However, I do get irritated when somebody hits on a genre I like.
I'm only surprised when I see or hear people concentrating on reading only one author. There are a few people who just read Danielle Steele, or Agatha Christie, though I think these authors are great. But when I see such people , I kinda pity them for not widening up their list of favorite authors and genre. Well I try to convince them to read more books and genre from different authors, there are lots of them anyway out there.
Guilty. I secretly look down on my friend's taste which mainly consists of ChickLit, Drippy Romances (The Notebook, ugh), and Really-Meant-to-be-Made-Into-Hollywood-Movies in the manner of Da Vinci Code. My defence for my snobbery? Mindless entertainment is not and should not be one's only reason to read. As members of the human race, I feel we all have a duty to learn and grow and reading Danielle Steele ain't gonna do it. Harsh?
yikes, who doesn't read fiction?! sorry...
honestly, i'm perfectly okay with people reading genres i'm not too interested in. i'll read anything myself.
what i look down on is BAD WRITING. that's the worst.
i think my previous blog entries will stir up more tempest in this teacup... elitist or populist?
I've been thinking about this thread ever since it appeared, and I guess I could have simply answered yes to the original questions. Of course, it's never really as simple as that, and I think this applies to all of us here.
I don't think our so-called feelings of superiority, at the very moment we experience them, really apply in a general sense. At least, I hope not.
I'm willing to wager, for instance, that despite how micketymoc felt in that one second, the sense of superiority s/he felt testifies to how important reading is to all of us rather than to a bona fide and deep-seated belief in one's general superiority over such "limited readers."
(Let's 'fess up to this as well: There's a tinge of the obsessive in people who sign up for a site cataloging titles they own, as well as joining a forum to talk about the general experience of being "a Filipino reader." It's a quality that allows us to feel these moments of superiority as if it were all-encompassing when I'm certain we know that it's not.)
There's a lot said here as well about people's attitude towards reading. I think what many of us object to over here is not so much certain tastes but more the attitudes that sometimes underlie such preferences.
Personally speaking, I can't stand those so-called "inspirational" books like that of Mitch Albom, but what gets my goat more is how some people I know who read him don't read anything else. Even worse than that, however, is how they sometimes feel superior themselves for not "lowering themselves" (!) by reading other kinds of novels.
I also worry about a certain tendency to believe that as long as people are reading, it's okay. As long as people read, say, the Harry Potter novels, it's all good...even if it's really just a way to pass the time while the films are released, even if it's the only book they read.
(And no, I'm not bashing readers of the Harry Potter novels or the books themselves--just the kind of kneejerk reaction that it's always a good sign when people are buying those books in droves.
Similarly, I wasn't bashing those who enjoy Mick Albom and similar authors simply for that enjoyment, but more the attitude that books are supposedly better just for making us feel good about ourselves.)
The comment about "mindless entertainment" also struck me. There is indeed a tendency to use that as a yardstick, not just for reading but also for, say, watching movies and television programs, and that just irks me.
At the same time, however, I'm a big fan of a lot of genre fiction. Some would say I'm limited in my own tastes, but I'd like to think that I'm trying really hard to look for the literary in the generic and "formulaic." Again, it's the attempt to cultivate a certain kind of attitude, finding the mind in what seems mindless entertainment.
(I can't really judge my level of success in this regard. This may be something that applies to all of us here as well.)
More to follow, but thanks for the insights and opinions. The blog entries from julsitos2 are highly thought-provoking as well.
but i myself have hopes on the "as-long-as-they're-reading-something" idea. especially pinoys who are, unfortunately, generally not a reading society. books of all genres are still stimuli. they open up the possibility of a regular reading habit. it's still a start.
the problem is a lot of people are taking advantage of this and producing crap for us to read. that's the unfortunate price of democracy.
it goes back to education, really. parents should start their kids on the habit of reading at home so that when they start school and experience the real world, they already have the interest. as for the taste level of reading material, well, i still say, to each his own.
i'm personally intimidated by sci-fi fiction--mostly because when i was a kid, i couldn't pronounce the, ahem, out-of-this-world names. but that's about it--and not because i found the genre boring, juvenile, geeky or whatever. in fact, right now, i'm re-acquainting myself with this genre because there's so much material and it really looks fun. besides, as an adult, i know now a thing or two about weird names ;)
10smartsimpleton First Message
i'm a book slut; i'll read anything.
this didn't stop me from raising an eyebrow over my cousin's profession of love for anything nicholas sparks, but she's 17; i wasn't reading anyone better at that age, frankly. i devoured everything sweet valley, babysitters club, archie comics, and it was very rare for me not to clutch a book.
i suppose a hidden side-effect of those tending to stick to only one genre understand that story plots can only entertain for so long; it's one of the reasons why i look for new authors and new genres. it adds spice to an old habit.
point is, for me, i tend to judge people by their reading environment. i would have felt the exact same blinding flash of judgment micketymoc felt had i been in his place, except maybe i would have snickered and covered it with a cough.
my father is a pastor, and i've found books on atheism, religious differences, Greek philosophy, the history of Christianity, Christian apologetics, and evangelism in our library. it's a reason why he and i get along, and why i stay away from people who stick to saccharine, socially-acceptable Christian books (plenty of those in our library, too). that doesn't make them any less successful or nice, though. just not my type of people.
i'm with smartsimpleton - i'll read just about anything. i enjoy all kinds of subjects, but i do tend to glom on romance novels - mostly because, after reading college texts all day, my mind is screaming for something not so intense.
i can honestly say that i've never felt superior (or inferior) due to someone's reading preferences. to me reading is reading. growing up, adults around me encouraged reading in general, whether it's a magazine or 756-page tome. after all, you have to start somewhere.
i dont have reading biases but i DID have something worse. i hated reading my school paper (HS and college) cause i thought: explicitive, i can write better than this.
I think "As-long-as-they're-reading-something" works only up to high school. After that, you should be reading something more than pulp fiction or self-help books. Your level of sophistication should rise as you grow older. That is, if you claim to be a serious reader.
Hey everyone. Im a newbie here in LT so it’s nice to meet pinoy readers. About me: I read anything, any genre. As I say to people, I don’t discriminate by genre, I’m more picky when it comes to authors. Anyway, here’s my piece about the topic above: I’m afraid that I loathe people who think chick lit and Paulo Coelho and that Albom guy are literature. I mean, it’s okay if you’re just starting to discover the delights of books and lit, but if not, then I guess, you’re just intellectually lazy. And I abhor that. Come on, there’s plenty of books to love in the world! You want a feel good love story ala Nicolas Sparks? Read Sebastien Japrisot's A Very Long Engagement - it's a heartbreaking love story and better-written too. Chick lit? Why don't you try Jane Austen? Chick lit owes a lot to her.
It’s not that I feel superior, most of the time, I feel frustrated and angry and want to smack them to sense. In highschool, there was this one girl I knew who never reads for “fun.” Hanggang, five chapters lang daw sya. And to make matters worse, sweet valley series and christoher pike series lang binabasa nya! Don’t get me wrong, I read those books in high school, too. But then again, at that age, I was also enjoying Sylvia Plath and Nabokov. I hope I’m making sense here. Or maybe it’s the lit major in me, I bleed for orphaned books.
Anyway, nice to meet all of you. Do add me on your contact list. Ciao.
sure, of course, i know what you mean. but a lot of people don't even reach high school.
(sorry for this off-track remark. 'sensya na.)
^woah. anikins, im aware that a lot of people dont reach highschool and dont even know how to read, which is a big tragedy for all of us. but you miss the context of my comment. im talking about middle class people who have access to books, who take it for granted, and who don't realize that in this country, having books and being able to read, are privileges.
</i>I get eyelesbarrow's point: those of us who do have the free run of the literary buffet table tend to just stick to the old standbys, and think that's all there is to literature. Limiting the scope of the discussion to those who have access to the buffet, most of them don't realize that the other picks on the menu are more rewarding, if they would only just try it out. Well, tough luck.
I hate to say it, but I think there's a wide anti-intellectual streak in our culture. In our barkada, I can't bring up history with my history professor friend without our other friends butting in on how boring our discussion is. Kids are taught to value money more than education, or education only as a conduit to more money. We pride ourselves on being a "practical" people, when we've all but forgotten how rewarding the "impractical" practice of pursuing art or philosophy for its own sake can be.
The end result is we get politics and politicians who loudly argue for the easy fix, without any serious study of the long-term repercussions of their decisions; the exodus of scientists and artists to countries that are kinder to intellectual thought. And, on the day-to-day scale, we get readers who exclusively read practical, easy, ubiquitous reading material: you get instant gratification on one hand, and on the other, you can hide amongst the thousand other readers of the same book just in case one is questioned by the barangay thought police!
I know there are a lot of people who can't afford to buy books, but what if this situation is perpetuated by the fact that there are a lot of people who can't be bothered to read them?
...middle class people who have access to books, who take it for granted...
Those who can but won't. I find this so sad and pitiful, given that it's all too common. I'm not sure if I'm angry about it, but the sentiment is closer to Sayang! than anything else, I think.
Truth be told, though I try to expand my reading horizons, I'm not as well-rounded as I'd like to be. But I do love reading enough, like all of us here, to cringe when micketymoc talks about "a wide anti-intellectual streak in our culture."
I agree with that, but also want to point out that it's even worse, since said anti-intellectual streak takes place beyond Philippine culture. It's virtually global, this so-called dumbing-down of culture, and it's alarming.
Kids are taught to value money more than education, or education only as a conduit to more money.
It's a reality we have to face as a developing country, BUT there's certainly a reason why I still assign this ten-year-old article to my students every single semester...and why I read it myself just to be reminded that I'm just as implicated in the problem.
hi eyelesbarrow, yes of course, i got your point. the remark was on account of my previous comment.
and also agree with micketymoc & eldritch00. it's very frustrating. (thanks for that harper's mag article, btw. quite long--but very true.)
The problem is not because we value money more than, say, education. The real problem is an educational system that does not encourage or teach our people to learn not just to "earn" money but "make" real money! This "education" vs "money" thing is a cliche middle class Filipinos love to call out when they feel they are being pushed out of the middle class. Why do you think the people who own most of the significant businesses are not really Filipinos? Are we Filipinos destined to become perpetual employees and OFWs? I think not!
I do admit some bias against several book genres. I do not read as much fiction as before, I would never touch a self-help or inspirational book unless it's given as a gift (and it would just gather dust in my shelf), and I would most likely snub new age books. Life's short, work's hard, and with what little free time I have, I would rather spend it with my new family. I'm lucky if I can read more than four books a month. It's not a matter of superiority, it's time management for me.
I have to admit that I am not impressed with people who do not remember the details or cannot form an informed opinion of the books that they read. I don't get it. It's as though they weren't paying attention while reading.
sounds like me. there are certain books i read through, and while i can remember the general plot, tone, and theme, it can take me quite a while to remember details.
fortunately i just decide to read them again.
People who think the Da Vinci Code is a brilliant piece of literature. Actually, it's a cipher, not a code. And it's bizarre that the female protagonist was unable to point this out. =
The prevalence of romance novels just hurts my feelings. :-/
I do have some biases before, but I try my best to remove them from my system. I used to think that those who have access to books but don't read are no-good persons. I used to think that those authors that don't ring a bell are not worth my time. I used to think Paulo Coelho sucks because he's popular and everybody reads him.
I was wrong. I realized, heck, it's lucky we still have book-lovers here in our country, with all the idiotization our environment subjects us to.
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