Are you a book snob?

Photo of a man looking down his nose

"I don't read that trash"

Despite the proverb most people do, in fact, judge books by their covers – and readers by their books. Some look down their nose at people who love James Patterson, or dismiss literary fiction as pretentious.

One theory states this is partly why romance readers were some of the earliest and most enthusiastic adopters of ebooks. The computer doesn’t sneer at you when you buy a romance novel online, and no one can tell that you’re reading a romance novel on your iPhone or ereader (no cheesy cover art to give it away).
Some libraries have hosted “speed dating” events to which everyone brings a favourite book in order to start a conversation. Frankly, that seems like a recipe for lots of people bringing books they think they should like, as opposed to what they actually read, or at least trying to put their best foot forward. If I were single and went to an event like that, I’d bring one of my favourite classics (Middlemarch, Persuasion) or a “respectable” genre novel like something by Dennis Lehane.
One of the best parts of being a Reader Services librarian is that reading literally anything falls within my job description: helping people connect to a book that they’ll enjoy. I might not instantly grasp the appeal of Westerns, or avant-garde experimental fiction, but I need to be open to trying them. This is not a job for book snobs.
My challenge to myself this year is to read at least three books to which I’d normally say “no way!” I’ve already tried a Western (Broken Trail by Alan Geoffrion) and really enjoyed it. Next up: a paranormal romance.

What’s your literary prejudice? And do you have any plans to challenge it?


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