You know how it is--judging isn't cool, but it's always more fun to be on the giving end than the receiving end of it. As someone who's studying library science, judging people's reading tastes just isn't something I can do ethically. Sure, everyone has their opinions and I've certainly got mine, but I don't believe in anyone being made to feel bad because of their reading choices.
Most people who know me consider me to be fairly well-read, so I'm rarely on the receiving end of such judgement. However, it does sometimes happen. Most recently on a trip to one of my favorite used bookstores.
I'm perusing the shelves in the YA section, not looking for anything in particular when a worker approaches me and asks if I need any help.
"Actually, do you have the book, I'll Give You the Sun?"
"Who's it by?"
"I can't remember, sorry," I reply.
"Do you have your auxiliary brain?"
You know how dogs cock their head to the side when they're confused? Yeah, I'm pretty sure I did that.
"Your auxiliary brain."
I give a blank stare.
"Your smartphone," he replies, mildly annoyed.
"Oh," I step to and grab my phone, feeling annoyed myself. I mean, perhaps I would've had all the necessary information, including the author's name had I approached him, but since it was the other way around, I didn't appreciate being made to feel like I'd done something wrong by forgetting the author's name. Plus, he's the one with a computer full of inventory at his fingertips, so he could've just looked up the damn book.
"Jandy Nelson," I answer after a half a minute. "And the book is I'll Give You the Sun--it's YA." At my answer, I feel the judgement even more. I'm 24 and I'm sure I look my age. I got the sense that he was none too impressed with my not-so-young-adult self wanting to read a novel intended for young adults. I personally don't believe that YA books should be relegated to any specific age group, but some people believe otherwise. He was clearly of the latter camp.
I could feel the judgement practically oozing from his condescending glare and matching body language. My instinct was to just turn on my heel and walk away, but I thought, Wait a minute... I was here first! He approached me! As silly as that sounds considering that he works at the store and would therefore have more claim to a space in it than me, I decided to stand my ground. And while doing so, I made it a point to busy myself on my auxiliary brain so I could effectively tune out anything he said.
Ultimately, the store didn't have I'll Give You the Sun, but they did have another book by the author, so I ended up getting it instead. I made it a point to be unusually exuberant upon finding the book (despite my never having heard of it prior to that moment) in an effort to communicate to this weasel that his arbitrary judgement was likely robbing him of many a good reading experience. He appeared too dense to pick up the hint. I would've suggested he use his auxiliary brain, but he didn't seem to be using his half a primary brain, so I let him go on his ignorant way.
You're probably waiting for the moral of the story when, in fact, there are several.
- If someone in a bookstore judges you, that's a reflection on them, not you.
- The person judging you probably has atrocious reading tastes, and it's only made more atrocious by the attitude of pretentiousness they bring to their reading life.
- And most importantly, DON'T TRUST A GUY WHO SAYS "AUXILIARY BRAIN." I mean, seriously, dude? Not cute. Get over yourself.