Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Book Snobbery


I am a total book snob. On so many levels. I read my share of trash, sure (the Shopaholic series brought me great pleasure, but I also take great pleasure in the irony of this fact) but my snobbery stems more from not wanting to read what "they" (aka: the masses) are reading. It's an intellectual (and artistic) rejection of things popular, and it's been something I've rejoiced in ever since I first started writing seriously fifteen years ago.

Case in point: The Da Vinci Code. I will not read it. Or perhaps I should say: I have not read it. I don't even need to read it to know it's a poorly-written, overrated book; my sources who have read it (aka: my equally-snobbish, though perhaps more curious colleagues) confirm this. But when I was out traipsing around Spain, a friend left me an article from SFWeekly. In it, Karen Zuercher discusses the snobbery of certain readers and what made her "lower" herself to finally read the book and what made her realize that she actually enjoyed it:
...I admit I felt kind of dirty for having read The Da Vinci Code, even though I'd joined about a zillion other people in doing so. With all the fabulously written books in the world, why waste time and lower your literary values with that one? It's entertaining, yes. It's easy on the brain, definitely...Mostly, though, it was just nice to read something lots of other people were reading.

It makes me think of one of the reasons people do read, to feel a member of a community, to feel, as Zuercher says, "connected" to their community through story. Ordinarily (and perhaps ironically) I shun that community (at least on literary terms) because I tend to perceive myself -- as a writer, as an instructor of Literature, as a lover of words -- as above that community. When perhaps I should just admit that I am a part of it.

So, should I? Dare I?

7 Comments:

Anonymous Nikki said...

Great post. I actually changed the book jacket when I read Di Vinci to a more "intellectual" read. I was embarassed to be reading it on the subway. (Yes, I know that sounds pathetic.)

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't give up the fight! - LC

6:55 PM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

nikki -- I hear you on the book cover thing. Look in my archives (maybe in March?) and there's a post about how I hide books with movie covers. It is pathetic, but it's just me.

anonymous -- I haven't. Not yet, anyway ;)

6:58 PM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Wooo--glad I'm not alone ;)

5:10 AM  
Blogger zlatickogirl said...

I actually read this book before it become a national phenomenon and such a controversial issue...you're right..it's poorly written and a bit linear in style..quite frankly the only thing that kept me going was the fact that I have a minor in Art History and Symbology and am fascinated with Theology. I have to admit that I quite thouroughly enjoyed the movie though....but then I always enjoy movies with Audrey in them.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Parisjasmal said...

I liked it. I am not Catholic, nor am I any religion...so I could read it unbiased. It entertained me . The movie however sucked. And unless I am reading an educational book, then I am reading for entertainment.

7:46 AM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

The writer of the article says that a friend described the book as "the worst book you'll ever love." I think that's the entertainment factor! Of course, when you're schooled in a world like I have been (first in literature classes and then primarily in creative writing (aka: creative snobbery) classes) it's hard to even admit that!

10:45 AM  

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