On "Guilty Pleasures," Not Finishing a Series, and Book Snobbery
I liked the first Twilight book.
You read that right. I liked the first Twilight book.
Do I need to shout it from the rooftops for you to believe me? I LIKED THE FIRST TWILIGHT BOOK. There. Believe me now?
This may surprise you. It sure as hell surprised me.
I picked up Twilight half-heartedly, just wondering what all the hype was about. I was a senior in high school and wanted something fun to read besides the websites of colleges to which I would be applying and ACT study questions.
I remember the day I started it. I hid the book inside my government textbook and read as I pretended to be studying. I managed to tune out the teacher for the entirety of class and not take a single note--something I rarely, if ever, afforded myself.
At the end of the day, I was halfway through it. I remember being forced to pay attention in a speech class and the teacher suggesting we take a break for a few minutes to stretch and get water. When I decided to use my break to read, the teacher became infuriated because I "disobeyed" her by not understanding the meaning of the phrase take a break.
It didn't make me question my choice to read. It just made me defiant. I remember telling her if she wanted to shout at me for reading quietly while we weren't doing classwork, I'd just take myself to the principal's office and she could deal with me there. I'd already been accepted to college and had little regard for unreasonableness (i.e., stupidity).
She just stared at me. And I picked up my book again.
By the time I went to bed, I'd already finished the book. I so rarely read things I couldn't put down and it was such a welcome respite from the books by dead white guys I was being assigned in class.
I'd always read for pleasure, but I'd more or less always been told that if you were going to read and be a "real, serious, respectable" reader, then you had to read literature--the kind that makes you pronounce it lit-uh-a-toor with a pinched face and a pinky in the air.
Realizing that there's nothing wrong with reading books that may not have any other value besides making you feel good is just so liberating.
It wasn't long after that when I picked up the second and third books in the Twilight series. Another thing I'd been taught was that if you start a series, you must finish it.
But the thing is, I didn't love the second and third books. They seemed to move slower and not appeal to me in the same way the first one did. So I didn't finish them.
It wasn't long after that when it became the popular thing to do to bash Twilight. (I get it, there are definitely some feminist issues.) So when I told people I never finished the series, no one blamed me. In fact, they cheered me on and wondered how (and why) I got through the first three books anyway.
That was the first time I'd been on the receiving end of book snobbery. Although I never really did it publicly, I was proficient at turning my nose up at people reading YA, romance, sci-fi, or--the penultimate reading offense in my mind--Christian fiction romance (because if you're going to read romance, it might as well have steamy sex... duh).
It's easy to be a book snob until you've been the recipient of book snobbery. Even if you recognize that the book you like isn't the best book ever and you don't feel the need to defend the book itself, it still doesn't feel great to have your taste (and intelligence) questioned.
I wish I could say being made fun of for liking Twilight was a sudden epiphany and my book snobbery disappeared faster than Edward Cullen's sparkles when he goes indoors after flouncing through a sunny grove.
But it didn't. I held onto my book snobbery for a few more years in hopes of--as book snobs do--elevating my own taste.
It wasn't until I was nearly finished acquiring a bachelors degree in English literature when I realized that I rather hated analyzing literature and that if such was a requirement of book snobbery, perhaps it wasn't for me after all.
That was when things started to change. I started to enjoy reading in a way I never had before. I started to enjoy blogging about books--genuinely, not because I felt like I had something to prove. I started to realize that this life was better, and that maybe, just maybe, I might make a decent librarian, and there was certainly no room for book snobbery in the library.
These days I don't believe in guilty pleasures. Whatever you like is valid and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And there's nothing wrong with not finishing a series, whatever your reasons for doing so might be. When you give up book snobbery, you never know what you might find you like.