Since joining the online bookish community I’ve been feeling pressured to read as many hyped books as possible. I feel left out of so many conversations! But I’ve come to terms with it and realize that I can enjoy them as an outsider. The truth is, I don’t want to read what everyone else is reading just for the sake of feeling a part of the conversation. I pick hyped books that actually call to me or are recommended to me by people I trust. To this, my past self would tut-tut in disapproval. I was, not for long, a literary snob. I only read books that were, according to me, respectable. Luckily, something good came out of that shameful time and that’s exactly what I want to talk about today: How my past as a literary snob changed the way I see hyped books.
I think most readers have found themselves with the hyped books dilemma. Are they worth it? Should I read them? Social media keeps telling us to pick them up, but most of us grow wary. We don’t trust the hype anymore or we just don’t get the appeal of some books… but then, other times, some sound really intriguing and we end up reading them. Some people, though, tend to disregard all hyped books without taking a second look at them. This is where Literary Snobs come in.
How come I was a literary snob?! I think it’s a stage some readers go through and, sadly, that some never come out of. I used to think that reading what everyone else was reading was just following the other sheep in the herd, that it made me have no personality and no opinions of my own. Classics, underrated novels, and more unknown books were, for me, the only respectable literature. Everything else was silly, so the people who read it were consequently silly too. It was dreadful because I felt a terrible pressure to read only certain types of books, which was really boring and it almost killed my joy for reading. Thank goodness it didn’t last long. Now that I can see the error of my ways, I realize that’s where my love for reading as many different things as possible comes from!
My past self would have never read a hyped book or series. I would have rejected the books just for being popular and I would have missed great books by doing so. I wasn’t really enjoying reading as a snob anymore because it was a constraint. By stepping out of that I came to appreciate what each book, popular or not, is able to bring to a reader’s life. Now I can recognize the good, the bad, and the ugly of a hyped book without judging the readers or authors. The good is something everyone should keep in mind when hearing the buzz about a new popular book, the bad is the inevitable, as nothing can satisfy ALL readers, and the ugly is what I think we should all avoid.
I’m now a big supporter of read what you want, though I also like to push people to read outside of their comfort zone from time to time, so this is where my biggest dilemma comes from:
What about people who only read hyped books?
I would say that if that’s what makes them happy, let them do it! Why shame people for their reading tastes? Why push them towards something they won’t enjoy as much? It’s their entertainment, it shouldn’t be controlled or mocked. Then, I think of how they might be missing other amazing books that aren’t as popular and I start to get afraid of my snob-self coming back.
I’ve concluded that as long as you’re not judging others for their reading habits, you shouldn’t be judged either. I will always recommend people to read something completely different to what they normally read (that’s why I’ve started my Genre Exploration series), but I would never pass judgment on someone because they enjoy picking only hyped books or because they read only romance or new adult novels.
I think we should always keep in mind the good and bad side of reading hyped books and be critical about them, but never get on the ugly side of the scale. I won’t give in on the pressure because that would only taint my reading experience, but I will continue to pick hyped books that sound awesome and ignore those that I honestly don’t have any interest in, even if I miss out on conversations. Most of all, I will continue to read anything I want and judge no one by their reading habits, saying goodbye to my past literary snob-self for good.