When I was in high school I loved Twilight. Yes, I know it’s got its problems, but 16-year-old me couldn’t have cared less. I loved Bella because she was a nobody, like me. I loved that it was set in Washington, near where I grew up. I loved the idea of a magical world existing right alongside this one. I loved the idea of an average girl being swept up in that magic.
You get the idea. I loved Twilight.
My love for Twilight also exposed me to my first extreme case of book snobbery.
Ever since I learned to read, I’ve loved it. My parents fully supported and embraced this love, and for the most part let me read what I wanted. I was a boring child, so this wasn’t usually a problem—I wasn’t a kid who was going to try and read the latest Harlequin, for instance. And by the time I was 16, we had, at least I thought, reached some kind of unspoken agreement that I didn’t have to ask permission before I started a book.
Then my dad found out I was reading Twilight.
Now, let me back up for a moment. I love my dad. He’s a great father. But he’s never really understood my reading tastes. When he reads, it’s usually non-fiction or something informative. He was glad that I enjoyed reading, but from time to time he would make comments about why I didn’t read something, well…better. Like a nice biography instead of the latest Meg Cabot. He never forced the issue, though, and while it kind of annoyed me I pretty much just went on reading whatever I wanted.
For reasons I’ve never understood, my dad took particular offense to Twilight. He didn’t know much about it except that it was about a girl who fell in love with a vampire (Okay, let’s be honest, that’s really all there is to know). Based on that he assumed it was awful. Trashy. Inappropriate. Vampires are supposed to be evil creatures of the night, why on earth would anyone want to read a stupid story about someone who fell in love with them?
And, most importantly, where did I get off reading it without getting his permission?
- I didn’t understand why this, of all books, bothered him so much. I also didn’t understand why he suddenly felt
- like I was supposed to be asking permission before I read something. That was never how we had run things before. Why would we start now?
In the end, I got to read my Twilight, and if I’m honest I probably enjoyed it a little more because I knew it bugged my dad. I wasn’t obvious about reading it, and I didn’t ask my parents to buy the rest of the books, instead borrowing them from friends. The Twilight argument died down, and we never fought about what I read again.
Still, I always think back on this when I hear about cases of book snobbery. Because that’s what it boiled down to, really. My dad didn’t think that Twilight was “good” enough for me to be reading, and he didn’t like that I was reading things he didn’t want me to read. If I had been less headstrong, I might have stopped reading the series right there.
And that would have been a problem. Say what you will about Twilight, but it connected me to my friends and helped us to bond in a way that no other book had since Harry Potter. We were all captivated by the story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, and this captivation with a fictional story strengthened out real-life friendships. Twilight was a comfort to me when I was going through a couple of rough teenaged years. And my dad almost ruined that with his judgment and criticism.
This is why we need to stop judging other people for what they read. Just because a book doesn’t interest you, or you get nothing out of it, doesn’t mean that somebody else won’t. You don’t know what will be a comfort to someone, what will open them up to a new idea or what will be meaningful to them. You can only ever know what books are best for you. Not anyone else.
Instead of giving in to book snobbery, try being thankful that that person is reading at all. Ruin that reading experience for them, and you’re likely to ruin their future enjoyment of reading as well. And if you want that person to read something that you think is more “worthy” instead, consider this: Why would anybody want to read a book that you like if all you do is criticize the books they read?
So let’s stop the book snobbery. Let’s just love reading, in whatever form.