LET’S CHAT // What makes some books/readers better than others?

With phrases such as ‘guilty pleasure’, books labelled as trashy, ebooks/audiobooks (by some) not considered reading – it seems there are certain protocols within the book community that seem to deem one book (or bookworm) better than another.

So I wanted to talk about that a little today (briefly touched on it in this post too) – because what makes one reader better than another? Or one book better quality than another?
I’ve noticed that there seem to be certain books or readers that read these books that are seen and stereotyped more often than not.

Romance books

One book genre that seems to be disregarded more than any other is romance. Particularly the more explicit ones (Fifty Shades, looking at you). They’re probably the books labelled as ‘trashy’ and ‘guilty pleasures’ the most, but why are some people ashamed of reading them? And why are they labelled trashy? I know sometimes the writing is called out as not being the best, and they can be considered a little cliché – but does that mean they’re better books? How can you measure something that’s personal preference?

Middle grade books

Specifically, adults reading middle grade books. This is definitely one that I see quite a lot too – especially in middle grade recommendation posts/reviews. Adults reading books that are not adult (or at least YA) is often considered as ‘weird’ and is often questioned. But again?? Is there really anything wrong with reading a book you enjoy just because it’s not aimed at your target demographic? Look at Harry Potter – originally categorized and aimed at middle grade/9-12 years old. But is now one loved and enjoyed by everyone of all ages, not just children! I’d even go as far as to say that now, there are more adults reading HP than the original demographic, as people have grown up with the books.

Fluffy books

The theme of 2018 and 2019 seems to be hard hitting books – are there that many ‘fluffy’ books being released at the moment? A lot of them seem to be focused on messages and morals, and sharing important themes within the novel – which is super important!! But at the same time, I know a lot of readers who tend to shy away from reading these types of books for various reasons, but does that really make you any less of a reader? I myself find that sometimes, a fluffy book is exactly what I want! If I’ve had a long day at school or I’m feeling stressed, reading a hard hitting book that’s difficult to read isn’t always what I’m looking for – and that’s perfectly okay!! Although it is important to read these books and these messages, we aren’t always in the right head space to read ‘heavier’ books, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.

Then, there are the things that we aren’t always doing – which some people believe makes you a worse bookworm/reader.

Not analysing books

Ignoring the ‘should you write in your books’ debate, which is a whole other discussion in itself, there can be the misconception that to be a proper reader you have to analyse your books. Highlighting favourite quotes, making a note of the significance of this adjective, or this event happening. Why did Dickens use the extended metaphor of the fire? What is the significance of Romeo using oxymoron, ‘O brawling love, O loving hate’ (knew the english lit GCSE would come in handy x). But it doesn’t mean you’re any less of a reader just because you don’t tend to analyse or annotate -sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy the book as the book.

Classics being a no-go

I admit, I personally do love classics (Olivia @ Purely Olivia wrote a fab post on why we should read them) and so I would recommend them! But classics are not for everyone, in fact not all classics are for everyone. There are some classics I love (Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, Jane Eyre), and some that really don’t appeal to me and it’s likely I’ll never read (like Wuthering Heights, Moby Dick, Dracula). So it’s okay if you don’t want to read classics or don’t enjoy them – it doesn’t make you any less of a reader, or the books you read any less quality!

So, in conclusion. YOU AREN’T ANY LESS OF A READER FOR ENJOYING (OR NOT) CERTAIN BOOKS. Reading is for enjoyment, so you should read whatever you want! Why force yourself through a classic/adult/non-fluffy non-romance etc book that you’re bored about and doesn’t really benefit you just because you feel like you should? Books at the end of the day are for entertainment and leisure purposes. Reading shouldn’t be a chore at the end of the day, and it doesn’t make you any worse of a bookworm for choosing to read certain books over others!

I’m not really sure what the purpose of this post was in all honesty but I wanted to address a few things I’ve seen said about these genres etc and how certain books are not necessarily better than others! It’s all personal preference at the end of the day!

Do you see certain genre stereotypes? Have you experienced prejudice based on these book types?

Published by emme @ a literary latte

www.aliterarylatte.com Blogger & Bookworm

19 thoughts on “LET’S CHAT // What makes some books/readers better than others?

  1. I actually discussed this a lot in one of my courses I took during my master’s program. It was “Reader’s Advisory for Adult Readers”. The thing we REALLY discussed was NOT judging someone based off of their tastes, especially as a reader should feel comfortable asking their librarian for help finding a book no matter the genre.

    I’ve been judged for my new joy of YA fluffy romance … and I really don’t care. I used to, but I LOVE the simplicity and “happy ending style” books!

    I was also judged once when I requested “mein kampf” … when it was for a school project. And then I had to go into a private and locked room to read it … it felt very uncomforting. I TOTALLY get the sensitivity of that novel, but it was like I was being pre-judged when they had no context of WHY I was reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh ok – that sounds like such an interesting course. & yes, reading can often be a safe space or form of escapism so we shouldn’t make people feel bad for doing so just because the genre isn’t your personal preference. And your point about the librarian is such a good one.
      Me too! Fluffy YA contemporary/romance is my favourite genre – although the harder hitting books are important in their messages – sometimes I’m just not in the mood for it and want a happy ending!
      I can definitely see why that’s a sensitive book and why someone would judge, but it’s unfair to pre-judge like you said, with no knowledge as to why your reading it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this post! I’ve been trying to veer away from calling things my guilty pleasures because why should I feel bad about liking something harmless? It’s unfair to waive off whole genres like romance or middle grade as less than other books. Reading is a subjective experience, so you can never truly be certain which or why a book will touch a reader.
    Also, where do these stereotypes start? From book critics and academia? I think a good chunk of readers read for entertainment or escapism—not to be the next best NYT critic or ivy league English professor—so we shouldn’t have to hold ourselves to whatever their professional tastes encompass 🙂.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Belle & me too! I don’t see why we should feel bad for reading something we enjoy if there aren’t any problems with it! Yes for sure – all genres have their good and bad sides so it’s unfair for someone to write off a whole genre based on one stereotype or one experience. Just because one person didn’t enjoy one genre doesn’t mean someone else should be judged for it – we all have our own personal preferences which is important to remember.
      That’s such an interesting question – who knows where stereotypes start? Yes, it’s important to remember that often reading is primarily for fun and we don’t have to critique everything surrounding it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve seen a lot of Non-YA readers or adults say that YA is extremely superficial and dark, and that it just fills our heads with nonsense.
    If I’m honest though, YA has prepared me for way more than divorcee sex-novels from the adult genre ever has
    – Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes! Fantastic post! I often find it a shame that many people are embarrassed by their favourite books because they’re not ‘grown up’ or a bit ‘trashy’. There’s nothing wrong with us all liking different things, it would be very boring otherwise!

    I definitely thing there’s a bit of snobbiness that can be associated with reading classics books. It doesn’t make you any more or less of a bookworm if you haven’t read many classics. After all, classics take time to become classics! Maybe your guilty pleasure read will be a classic one day… after all it happened to Oscar Wilde’s books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!
      Yes definitely that’s such a good point – the world would be so much more boring without everyone’s different interests!
      Yeah unfortunately there can be but I don’t see what makes a classic any better just because it’s older? I love your point there about classics taking time to be classics! These books we consider classics now weren’t always and the books published now could be in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t understand it either! There’s some classics I really enjoy, and I think there’s something to be appreciated about books that have been so well loved for so many years. They can sometimes be interesting from a historical point too, but that doesn’t make them ‘better’ than genre fiction necessarily. I think if we enjoy a book that’s the main point. At least for me when I read! 🙂
        As an aside, classics do have some AMAZING book covers haha

        Liked by 1 person

  5. amazing post, Emme! I love that the community has stated time and time again that we are all readers, and that nobody is a “better reader” or “fake reader.” you see a lot of those tweets on Twitter and I love it!

    romance really isn’t an inferior genre to read or write. There are so many creators on booktube (chandler ainsley) and on the blogosphere (meltotheany, sapphic library, beware of the reader) that offer AMAZING content.Actually, Casey McQuiston, the author of Red, White & Royal Blue once tweeted that Romance is actually a hard genre to write. You have to find the balance between relationship development and everything else going on in the background. And you have to make the romantic tension GOOD. ok, so I don’t remember the exact wording of their tweet, but it was just really eye opening that Romance is a hard genre to write and that if anything, we should be giving Romance writers more credit than we usually do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Caitlin!
      Yes 100%, thankfully a lot of these stereotypes don’t really exist anymore which is great! You still see it occasionally but not that often which is good. A lot of it stems from old misconceptions that we still subconsciously judge ourselves for, hence the phrase guilty pleasure.
      Oh yeah I think romance is definitely a hard genre to write! It’s so character driven and you don’t have any crazy fantasy world to distract from the plot so the focus is often entirely on that one relationship – which you then have to make your readers care about. I certainly couldn’t do it! I agree, I think romance writers definitely deserve more credit than they get! Thanks for the reference to RW&RB too haha – another reminder that I still need to get to it!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah this is such a great post, I love it. I have to say, I know I tend to say some kind of books are my guilty pleasure, but really I should stop doing that, because I have absolutely no guilt about reading these drama-filled books haha. I feel like nobody is a better reader or a worse reader for picking out some kind of books, we should all read whatever we enjoy reading the most, really, that’s it 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marie!
      Yes, I’ve tried to make a more conscious effort to avoid the phrase ‘guilty pleasure’. Life is too short to constantly be worrying about little things like that – reading should be encouraged so we should read whatever we want and not worry about any judgement. A lot of judgement really stems from our own paranoia rather than anyone else actually judging us!

      Like

  7. This is such a lovely post, Emme! It’s so necessary, but kind of sad that it is necessary, since I feel like it should be a given that people can and should read what they want and not worry about it making them more of less of a reader. ❤️

    From my experience, I feel like I put these expectations on myself more than other people put them on me! I don’t know if that makes sense, but for instance- I’d say that if I’m checking out a romance book from the library, I spend more time wondering if anyone’s judging me for reading it than other people actually are judging me, haha.

    I love all the points you made, and wholeheartedly agree!

    Like

    1. Thanks Olivia! 100%, reading is so so amazing and it should be encouraged! Rather than judging others for reading certain books which would only discourage it.
      Although saying that, I do agree with your point. I think most of it stems from ourselves wondering if we are being judged than any actual judgement. I definitely get what you’re saying – it’s these stereotypes that we end up subconsciously judging ourselves for!💕

      Liked by 1 person

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