If You Like It Then You Should Put the READ on It
People who claim to be smarter than me like to write "think" pieces on readers and what's wrong with their taste. Whether it's adults reading YA or the supposed lack of quality of certain genres and titles, these self-appointed judges of book taste certainly have a lot to say.
Well, I've got a few things to say too. And I don't mind saying it colloquially.
People ought to read whatever the fuck they want. That's right. Whatever the FUCK they want. Seriously. I don't throw out the F-dash-dash-dash for nothing.
And here's why no one should judge anyone for their reading taste (including yourself).
Did you know that there are over 92,000 functionally illiterate adults in Central Alabama? I learned that tidbit of information from the Literacy Council of Central Alabama. Just think about that for a minute. 92,000 adults who manage to go through life only knowing how to write their name and read a handful of words.
These are adults who can't read nutrition labels on food or instructions to properly install the car seat for their kids. Or warning labels on prescriptions. Or safety warnings at their workplace.
This is about more than not being able to participate in the book nerds' favorite hobby. This is about not fully being able to participate in life.
Now, if that's the illiteracy rate in Central Alabama--in the United States where all children are granted a free public education--imagine what the rate of illiteracy must be in developing countries where education is not mandated or standardized.
Suddenly adults reading YA, teens reading comics, and grandmas reading steamy romances just doesn't seem as important, now does it?
The death of the novel has been foretold for decades and it hasn't happened yet. And it won't. The fact is people (at least in developing countries) are reading more than ever. Between social media, blogs, and readily available breaking news, the written word is ever present. It's true--people are reading more than ever, just not in the way that the "think" piece writing snobs want them to.
I'm tired of readers being guilted for reading what they like or discouraged from trying new genres because they fear what people will assume about their intelligence. Let me tell you, dear reader, whomever assumes something about your intelligence based on what you enjoy reading is the real idiot--not you. Not to mention they're definitely missing out on some good reading.
Perhaps these self-righteous, judgmental pricks would do well to read a little more. After all, reading has been scientifically proven to increase one's ability to empathize with others.
In short, reading is supposed to make you a better person. But these fucks are giving readers a bad name. They're making us look like snobs. Judgmental snobs. And I don't like that. As an avid reader and librarian in progress, I take that personally.
Furthermore, a lot--and I mean a lot--of intelligent people read widely. Can you imagine a librarian who hasn't read at least a little bit in a lot of genres being very useful? What about an English teacher who assigns the same types of books to students every year? Do you honestly think someone who only reads dead white guys can really understand a world of diverse people? Can you imagine a children's book writer who wasn't intimately familiar with the genre in which they were writing?
On top of that, the writers of these "think" pieces clearly haven't done much thinking. Not that anyone needs an excuse to read whatever the fuck they want however they want to read it, but you never know someone's situation. Someone might read comics because he or she has severe ADD and can't focus on lengthy written formats. Or someone might have dyslexia or vision impairments and therefore prefer audiobooks. Would you dare have the audacity to tell someone who suffers with these issues that what they read and the method in which they choose to read doesn't count as a real book?
Exactly. So if you wouldn't say it to them, why would you say it to anyone else? And what about the people who live with stresses most people neither see nor understand and they just want a good book for escapism? Please, "think" piece writers, do tell me what's so wrong with that.
That was sarcasm--in case there are any "think" piece writers who happen to be reading this and have trouble understanding the language of everyday people.
I, personally, fail to understand how people's reading choices is any of anyone else's business. And as soon as these click-bait publishers realize this, these "think" piece writers will be out of a job. These "think" piece-happy fools only think they control the intelligentsia, but they don't. You'd have to be smart to do that.
The fact is that judging someone for what they read and the way they read it is just another way of exercising privilege. What these "think" piece writers are really saying is, Well, I don't have any disabilities and/or life experiences that prevent me from reading and understanding lengthy literary fiction, so other people who don't read like I do must be stupid.
And so many factors play into the privilege that comes with book snobbery. Not only disabilities, but education (Did you come from a family who could afford to put you through school? Were you so smart that your scholarships covered a lot of the cost?), socioeconomic status (There's a direct correlation between education and income. Did you come from a family with college-educated people imparting their knowledge on you? Did you come from a middle class or higher family?), and more. People like to say they're self-made, but hardly anyone truly is, and everyone who is successful, wealthy, and educated has had opportunities and safety nets that most people can't even begin to imagine. And, yes, all of that does affect people's reading or the lack thereof.
The bottom line is this. If YOU like it, then you should put the READ on it.
Now go forth confidently and read whatever the FUCK you want. I mean it. And let no one tell you otherwise or guilt you for it.