Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Snobs and Your Commute to Work

You Are What You Read only has part of the story. Natalie Southwick writes:

Clearly, other commuters indulge in this vaguely intellectual form of people-watching, or at least feel the need to employ appropriate defensive measures. I’m always conscious that other passengers may be judging my taste in books as much as I’m judging theirs, so I try my best to cultivate an ideal (although perhaps not entirely accurate) impression. That’s why Haruki Murakami accompanies me to work, while Malcolm Gladwell stays home.
I vaguely am aware that other people might be judging what I'm reading (and I've read Haruki Murakami and Malcolm Gladwell on my way to and from work) but it never really stops me. I read all the Twilight books on the metro, but would be a little pissed if someone wanted to engage me in a Team Edward vs Team Jacob debate. After all, I'm in the middle of reading. The purpose of the book is so that no one talks to me. And even when I engage other people reading, I wait until they've stopped reading to strike up conversation.

Do I judge other people on their selections? Maybe a little, but I almost never say anything, whether the selection is good or bad. And I certainly don't choose my own books on how I think it will look to other people. I choose them because I want to read them.

I've updated my New Years Resolution to not only keep track of all the books that I read for the year, but to read at least 100 books by December 31st. Part of this is possible because I'm reading books I really want to read, so it goes pretty quickly. The last few weeks look like this:

Should I be embarrassed that I'm reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels? Or that I didn't realize that Terry Goodkind was an objectivist piece of shit until I read Faith of the Fallen (well, read it in between throwing it across the room)? Or should I be feel all hoity toity because I read a collection of essays about fat prejudice? And Dave Eggers' nonfiction book about Hurricane Katrina?

Mostly I just don't care. After all, I'm busy reading. 

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