I’m a book snob.

I’m not proud of it, but I judge non-readers pretty harshly. There are people out there who say things like “I don’t read”, and they don’t seem to think that it’s a serious hole in their lives, which I cannot grok.

Books are, for me, a necessity. Since the day I was able to read Grover At The Farm all by myself, I have been reading. I have a quick link to my library’s website on my Firefox toolbar, and I choose new purses based primarily on their size, because they must have enough space for an average hardcover. I have read hundreds of books, from classics to “chick lit” to non-fiction on almost any topic, and I’ve got a “to-read” shelf (currently growing online at that never seems to get any shorter. I deeply regret that I only have one lifetime during which to read, because I’ll never be able to read everything I want to.

I think more people should be regular readers. The digital world is slowly chipping away at our attention spans and encouraging us to absorb written words in small, manageable paragraphs, instead of pages and chapters, so I smile when I see people at bus stops or in coffee shops, holding an open book. So why, then, do I feel such hostility towards adult readers of tween-and-teen-targeted “literature”? See, right there, I used sarcastiquotes without even thinking about it. I get all sorts of annoyed when I see a grown person paging through Twilight. Why would anyone other than a 12-year-old girl voluntarily read about angsty sparkling vampires (unless they’re the parents of teens and tweens who want to be familiar with what their kids are reading)? My parents weren’t standing in line at the store, waiting excitedly for the next Babysitters Club book to be released so they could discuss it with their friends at work, so what changed over the past 20 years? Did young adult (YA) literature get more complex and adult along the way, blurring the lines?

It sounds sort of rhetorical, but it’s a question I’m honestly asking of the Dope: has there been a shift in the complexity of YA books over the years, making them closer to adult books?

I’ve done a lot of thinking about my hostility towards the YA stuff. My conclusion is that there are so many wonderful books out there that I want to share with people, and when I get “Hunger Games” as a response when I ask what someone’s reading, I automatically file the person under “doesn’t actually like to read”, and I put away the recommendations I was going to share with them. Someone reading “kids’ books” isn’t going to want to read Asimov, or John Irving, or a history of the life of Henrietta Lacks, right?

The more I think about it, the more I think it’s not necessarily a hostility against YA in particular, but against bullshit fluff literature, against people who choose to read badly-written junk when there are so many other options. But then again, I’ll admit to having enjoyed the Harry Potter series, and if I’m being honest, I have to say they were better written than Sophie Kinsella’s “Shopaholic” stuff, which was aimed at adult readers. So where’s the line? What’s a “good” YA novel and what’s a “fluffy” grownup novel?

Do most readers of YA or otherwise fluffy literature stick to those genres or do they dabble in all sorts of books? I tend to classify these readers right next to the non-readers, but maybe my perception is off.

Why should it matter? It’s not my business what people read, and on a conscious level I know that, but I see someone on the bus reading Fifty Shades of Grey and I die a little inside. I’m sure there are folks who will look down on my collection of science fiction and medical memoirs and declare that I’m not a real reader if I don’t know Tolstoy and Dumas by heart, and I’m just passing on the scorn to people who read fluffier literature than I do. Is that just human nature?

I’d like this to open up into a discussion, if anyone’s game. I need help pinning down what it is that bugs me about YA and fluff, because otherwise I don’t see how I will ever change that prejudice.

I am quite an extensive reader with wide varied tastes in literature. I personally think you are being somewhat small minded in your automatic disdain for someone reading the likes of Suzanne Collins or Stephanie Meyer. Of the two, I did read the Hunger Games, mainly because of the curiosity of “what’s all the fuss about?” Hell, there’s not much difference between that series and the Harry Potter series, which you quietly confessed to enjoying.

Stop being such a snob.

It’s because you’re a booksnob. It’s okay, I am, too. On the one hand, I’m glad my non-reading friend is reading now because of (and only) Shades of Gray. On the other hand, I do feel a bit superior because I know I will never allow that book or any sequels to that book pass through my eyeballs. Not because of the sexual content- I couldn’t give a shit less about that- but because it’s bad writing. When I first met my uncle’s wife a few months ago, I knew that we could never be close, in part because she asked me if I like Danielle Steele. It was a battle to not roll my eyes at that. Also, she asked me if I liked Thomas Kinkade. That kind of sealed the deal.

I don’t think anyone has to stop being a booksnob. It doesn’t really hurt anyone, if, like me, you keep your thoughts to yourself. I’m sure the OP isn’t going around denouncing anyone publicly.

I love to read and do it often. I read all kinds of stuff. But I read for entertainment, not for achievment. And I read different things depending on my mood. Sometimes you need something light, that reads quickly… like the Hunger Games. Sometimes you want something more deep, and don’t mind delving into complexity, like the Dune series.

I kinda understand where you’re coming from in an, “there is only a finite amount of time that I have on this planet to read, and I will not waste it reading Twillight,” kind of way. But I tried to read the Old Man and the Sea and just couldn’t do it. Oh well…

ETA: I haven’t read Twillight or Fifty Shades of Grey. But my favorite author of all time by a long shot is Stephen King… so who am I to judge.

I don’t think adult interest in so-called “Young Adult” fiction is anything new - To Kill A Mockingbird is generally loved by anyone above 12 years old or so as far as I know. It’s like Adventure Time or the old Muppet Show, in that the best child-oriented or “young adult” or whatever entertainment manages to transcend its demographic through depth and cleverness and appeal to broader swaths of people. Case in point: adults seem to love the undercurrents of darkness and sexuality in Twilight, and one adult that loved it perhaps a bit too much wrote a bit of Twilight fanfiction that eventually became the herein-maligned 50 Shades of Grey. No accounting for taste, eh?

For my part, I wear the intellectual pretensions of a literary sophisticate, to be sure, but The House at Pooh Corner is still one of my favorite and most often re-read books. I mean, literature is art, man - there’ll never be an objective standard for literary greatness any moreso than there could be for any other artform, as the acolytes of this forum take such grave relish in reminding each other every chance they get. I guess you could try going by the standards of academics or critics, but who gives a fuck what those idiots think?

One of my best friends is a woman who loved Twilight so much she sent me the books, in hardcover. I read about 10 pages and sent them back. :slight_smile: This is the same woman who introduced me to John Irving, Geek Love, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, and the Tarzan series.

I think well-read people will read all over the place and will enjoy books on both ends of the quality spectrum.

I notice you mentioned Asimov up there, OP. If it makes you feel any better (or worse), know that there are people who feel about your unfortunate interest in “genre” fiction as you do towards readers of YA stuff.

Me, I read what floats my boat. If it happens to be categorized as YA, no big whoop. A lot of times the label derives primarily from some combination of the age of the protagonist and the lack of heavy sexual themes; the book itself is otherwise indistinguishable from its companions on the shelves. I think it’d be a shame to miss the ***His Dark Materials ***(well… at least the first two books of it, and especially the first) or ***Abhorsen ***trilogies just 'cause they’re on the YA shelf. But… y’know, there’s lots of books out there. Gotta make choices somehow.

Congratulations, you’re a person with shitty taste in books complaining about the shitty books other people read and acting like you’re somehow better than them. Bravo.

That said, The Hunger Games is a fantastic book, and while the prose is a bit light, it’s an interesting story and a neat twist on the “Most Dangerous Game” trope. And believe it or not, but Twilight has won awards. Awards for teen literature, but awards none-the-less.

A lot of the books I read are YA, however, I also read horror, sci-fi, non-fiction, classics, et cetera. My Goodreads list
I do think YA books are better than they used to be. Of course, that doesn’t go for everything they crank out! Like any genre, you sift through the muck looking for the gems.

My time to read is short…if everything goes well, I can get a maximum of five hours a week. This won’t be uninterrupted, prime quality reading time either, it’ll be stolen bits of time in noisy environments for the most part. I’m not going to waste these precious moments reading anything but what I really enjoy. If my reading choices make other people think I’m dumb, that’s cool. I’d wear a dunce cap while reading if it would get me ten more minutes.

That said, I do look down on other people’s choices as well. We were at dinner the other night with my husband’s son, who doesn’t like to read. He claimed he had only ever enjoyed one book in his life: The DaVinci Code.

A recent New Yorker article that may be of interest.

YA has changed a LOT in the past 35 years. I just reread an old Madeleine L’Engle book and was very disappointed in it. So simple-minded.

I mostly read books you would approve of, but when times are stressful, it’s nice to sprint through something light. I don’t want to read High Literature all the time.

But yeah, I’m a terrible snob, too. I’m quiet about it.

Before getting snobby about what people read it’s worth getting them to read something.

I have a friend who doesn’t read. The only books I’ve ever known him to read are Harry Potter books, apart from what he had to read in English lessons at school. He’s an absolutely terrible speller. You know when you know what letters go into a word, but you’re not 100% sure of the order, or maybe if a letter should be doubled up or not? If I have a problem with spelling a word it’s almost always one of those things. But he often has no clue even what letters are supposed to be in the word if it’s not obvious. Because he reads nothing.

What makes it even weirder is he wants to make films, but I think he’s going to really struggle to tell stories if he never reads them.

have you ever read anything by Marion Chesney? she also writes a couple of series as M.C. Beaton including the Agatha Raisin books.

they are not very good. not, usually, horrible - but just not very good and yet she has tremendous success.

can’t believe it.:smack:

For the past few years, I’ve been on a mostly dystopian kick. I read a couple books a week, and the majority of them have some sort of dystopian spin. You would be amazed at how many of these turn out to be YA. So sure, someone may see me eating lunch with a copy of the Hunger Games or City of Glass propped up on the sugar holder and assume that I am a fluff-lover. Or they may catch me with Kafka, Mieville, Lukyanenko, or Orwell as my lunchtime companion.

Honestly, though, as far as I am concerned you should feel free to judge. It doesn’t do me any harm - I won’t even notice unless you slosh soup on my book - and it obviously makes you feel better about something. I mean, I’m no book snob, but yes, if the only book you ever enjoyed was Flowers in the Attic, well, I might judge you a little bit.

(Here’s my goodreads, by the way - always interested in adding friends.)

She seems to have written 28 books in the last 10 years. Surely that’s not a good sign.

I’m a semi-snob. I don’t care what individual books anybody reads. But I do look down on them if they only read certain things I find subpar (I like The Destroyer series of action novels but I read widely).

When someone tells me that they love to read and do it constantly and then I learn that they pretty much only read Harlequin Romances then I doubt them.

Similarly, I like Jackie Chan and Jason Statham movies but if you tell me those are the only kind of movies you watch then you don’t get to tell me you love movies.

As for YA, I’m also not interested. If the cultural zeitgeist reaches a certain level I’ll sometimes jump in so I can understand the references (which, to be honest, is also the only reason I’ve ever read any Jane Austen). Yes, some of it is very well written but, in my experience, even the well written stuff is still too simple when targeting younger audiences. But part of that is just age snobbery too. I was reading entirely from the adult shelves of the public library by fourth grade and I figure everybody else should be doing so too.

Oddly, I’m not bothered by people who don’t really read at all. My wife doesn’t. What really gets me are people who don’t have any interest in thinking. I feed the urge to think about new things, to learn, primarily by reading. My wife does it in different ways.

But people who can go and sit on a beach for days on end while doing their best to prevent a thought of any sort from creeping in, or worse, are proud of their ignorance drive me batty.

I read a quote somewhere, can’t find it now, that said something like “people read YA fiction because they’re starved of good narrative.”

We have 111 books in common (Lansdale!), and we’re 69% in agreement on ratings.

tellyworth, that quote has a ring of truth. YA books are where I go for story. (Assuming that’s what the quote means.)

I keep it to the internal monologue, don’t worry. I’m not out there “tut-tutting” people’s reading choices to their faces.

See, this is what I was trying to get at, but had a hard time explaining. I have re-read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Anne of Green Gables, dozens of times. I count them among my favorite books, despite the fact that they’re intended for younger readers. But they’re good. Maybe I’m putting more overlap in my Venn diagram of “YA” and “crappy writing” than is warranted.

I guess literature is art and will always be subjective, but I still think it’s crazy for someone to spend millions on something like this.