I hate when people are like “it’s not spoilers anymore if it’s been out for 2 years! You had plenty of time to read it!” like, just because you read it .2 seconds after it came out does not mean that everyone had the chance to. Don’t spoil the ending of a book just because you read it when it first came out
My best friend has been a Harry Potter fan for over ten years, and earlier this year I finally broke down and watched the movies so that we could fangirl together. The trouble is, whenever I voice a solid criticism I get cut off by, ‘Well, you should just read the books.’ I’m on the second book, but I read very slowly and don’t have a lot of free time. I’m bummed that I can’t share my love of the characters with her because it feels like my opinion isn’t valid if I haven’t read the books.
The best way to Ruin Romance is to read Objectively Good Books so you can inform your readers what literature should be like for everyone. The books you read aren’t bogged down by superficial hot-button issues like race, gender, or sexuality. No, they deal with timeless, universal themes – like having a hard time feeling special at your expensive prep school.
remember: you are under no obligation to enjoy so-called “classic” literature because a bunch of old people with values from the 1800s decided it should be revered. you like zombie vampire princesses? that’s rad keep reading what you’re interested in and never let someone tell you what you should and shouldn’t read
In which Matt lists things to remind us we’re human, and snobbery is not a characteristic we should celebrate…
1. People should never be made to feel bad about what they are reading. People who feel bad about reading will stop reading.
2. Snobbery leads to worse books. Pretentious writing and pretentious reading. Books as exclusive members clubs. Narrow genres. No inter-breeding. All that fascist nonsense that leads commercial writers to think it is okay to be lazy with words and for literary writers to think it is okay to be lazy with story.
3. If something is popular it can still be good. Just ask Shakespeare. Or the Beatles. Or peanut butter.
4. Get over the genre thing. The art world accepted that an artist could take from anywhere he or she wanted a long time ago. Roy Lichtenstein could turn comic strips into masterpieces back in 1961. Intelligence is not a question of subject but approach.
5. It is harder to be funny than to be serious. For instance, this is a serious sentence: ‘After dinner, Alistair roamed the formal garden behind this unfamiliar house, wishing he had never betrayed Lorelei’s trust.’ That took me eight seconds to write. And yet I’ve been trying to write a funny sentence for three hours now, and I’m getting hungry.
6. Many of the greatest writers have been children’s writers.
7. It is easy to say something to people who are exactly like you. A bigger challenge lies in locating that universal piece of all of us that wants to be wowed, and brought together by a great story. There isn’t a human in the world who wouldn’t enter the Sistine Chapel and not want to look up. Does that make Michelangelo a low-brow populist?
8. It does not matter about who the author is. The only thing a book should be judged on is the words inside.
9. Martin Amis once moaned on the radio that there were too many writers talking across the table to their readers rather than down to them. This was the point I went off Martin Amis.
10. You don’t have to be serious about something to be serious about something.
11. You don’t have to be realistic to be true.
12. You are one of 7,000,000,000 people in the world. You can never be above all of them. But you can be happy to belong.
13. The only people who fear people understanding what they are saying are people who have nothing really to say.
14. Books are not better for being misunderstood, any more than a building is better for having no door.
15. Shakespeare didn’t go to university, and spelt his name six different ways. He also told jokes. (Bad ones, true, but you can’t knock him for trying.)
16. Avoiding plot doesn’t automatically make you clever. (See: Greene, Tolstoy, Shakespeare.)
17. Freedom is a process of knocking down walls. Tyranny is a process of building them.
18. There can be as much beauty in short (words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters) as long. Sparrows fly higher than peacocks.
19. Snobs are suckers, because they have superficial prejudices.
20. The book I am least proud of, that I didn’t work hard enough on, was my most ostentatiously highbrow one.
21. Reading a certain book doesn’t make you more intelligent any more than drinking absinthe makes you Van Gogh. It’s how you read, as much as what you read.
22. Never make someone feel bad for not having read or not read something. Books are there to heal, not hurt.
23. Imagination is play. Snobbery is the opposite of play.
24. I used to be a snob. It made me unhappy.
25. Simple isn’t always stupid. When I write a first draft it is complicated. There is mess. The second and third and fifteenth drafts try and get it to make sense, to trim away the frayed edges.
26. Stephen King was right. Books are 'portable magic’. And everyone loves magic.
27. Inclusion is harder than exclusion. Just ask a politician.
28. The brain can absorb many things. So can a novel.
29. For me, personally, the point of writing is to connect me to this world, to my fellow humans. We are all miles apart. We have no real means of connecting except via language. And the deepest form of language is storytelling.
30. The greatest stories appeal to our deepest selves, the parts of us snobbery can’t reach, the parts that connect the child to the adult and the brain to the heart and reality to dreams. Stories, at their essence, are enemies of snobbery. And a book snob is the enemy of the book.
“So here’s the thing: yesterday BuzzFeed Books named its new editor, a sometime friend of mine named Isaac Fitzgerald. I knew Isaac as the Managing Editor of a literary site known as The Rumpus, where I was a weekend editor for several months in 2012. Yesterday, he gave the following quote to a media reporting site:
BuzzFeed will do book reviews, Fitzgerald said, but he hasn’t figured out yet what form they’ll take. It won’t do negative reviews: “Why waste breath talking smack about something?” he said. “You see it in so many old media-type places, the scathing takedown rip.” Fitzgerald said people in the online books community “understand that about books, that it is something that people have worked incredibly hard on, and they respect that. The overwhelming online books community is a positive place.”
It’s likely that you, dear readers, have not have been following the latest scintillating round of slapfighting in book critic circles about the “state of criticism.” It’s always a subject of dubious interest to the general population, I think, but let me explain briefly anyway, because the debate is crashing into the perennial concern about the declining popularity of books in our culture, and we all care about books here at Flavorwire, so.
Basically the problem is this: of late people who consider themselves “serious critics” — the kind of people who refer to themselves without irony as intellectuals, in other words — are concerned that book reviews are “too nice.” What they mean is that they feel that people, especially people online, are too afraid to offend each other with vitriolic criticism. These people have clearly not spent much time among the one-star brigade on Amazon, I think, but then “serious critics” like to think of themselves as above your average Bobs and Barbs from Arizona. Mostly, what distinguishes them is that they are people who are paid to think about books all the time, whereas Bob and Barb are more likely to have day jobs. And in that context it almost makes sense why critics get all up in arms about so esoteric a subject as “serious criticism”; they’re literally fighting for their livelihoods.”
If you’ve spent any amount of time on the bookish internet (Bookternet? Bookterwebternet?), you’ve run into a book snob. These are readers who are notoriously afraid of change in the book world, and who openly judge people for what they … Continued
E-reading isn’t REAL reading. = I need my personal preferences about my hobby to be validated as the only right and moral way do to a thing.
Making crafts out of old books is a DESECRATION! = I’ve never seen a library dumpster.
I only read prize-winners/confirmed classics *sniff*. = I don’t know how to think for myself.
Book bloggers are killing literary criticism! = I’m an aging white man in publishing and I don’t know how to think for myself.
Oh, I’ve never heard of that book. Was it reviewed in the NYT/on NPR? = I don’t know how to think for myself.
I would never read the tripe that is Twilight/50 Shades/Oprah’s Book Club selection, and I am going to tweet that statement 50 million times. = I am still as worried about being cool as I was when I was in high school.
The book is always better than the movie, no exceptions. = I’ve never seen The Godfather or The Princess Bride and also I am no fun at parties.
Rap music is not poetry, but Joni Mitchell/Bob Dylan/Belle and Sebastian is. = I am racist.
I refuse to use an e-reader because I just love that old book smell. People who do not love that old book smell are not real readers. = My favorite perfume’s base note is mold.
People who shop at Amazon for books are evil. = I have disposable income and like to make moral judgements about people who do not.
I would NEVER dog ear pages, crease a spine, or eat food while reading. = I have unreasonable expectations about how much the people to whom I bequeath my books when I die will actually want them.
I guess it’s good that they’re reading at all. = I will internally judge you until your reading tastes morph to match my own, which are far superior to yours because I read more books written by white men who live in Brooklyn.
I don’t have a TV because that would cut into my reading time. Did I mention I don’t have a TV? Hey. You there. I don’t have a TV. I don’t get that TV reference. = I am not all that interesting. Also, I watch three hours of Netflix a night on my laptop.
I don’t care if the main character is likable. It’s the PROSE that’s the thing. = My ability to tolerate insufferable jerks makes me better than you because you’re obviously only reading for escapism, which is an inferior motivation for reading.
I’m not a romance/crime/Western reader. I mean, I’ll read LITERARY genre. SOMETIMES. = My kitchen is full of quinoa and kale and soy ice cream. Someone please validate what a grown-up I am.
I don’t understand adults who read YA. You’re a grown-up person, you should read grown-up books. = I don’t like dancing in the rain or ice cream cones or trampolines or whimsy and my neck tie is too tight.