What is a literary snob? What does one look like? If you saw such a person, would you know it? Possibly not. The only way you could tell is if the person actually admitted it, or if you snuck up behind one and sighted their reading material. Even then you could not be entirely sure. Some people might indulge in Homer or Plato as a one time occurrence. I ask you again what is a literary snob? I can’t give you an exact answer but below is an account I had with some fussy readers.
Some years ago I was involved in a book club. During one of the meetings a conversation about Shakespeare started up. Everyone agreed what a wonderful writer he was. What a talent. Only one person remained silent on the matter…and that was me.
My experience with Shakespeare paled in comparison.
During high school, the curriculum demanded I study three Shakespeare books. The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. To be perfectly honest I found them difficult reads. The sentence structure threw me totally off balance. I did not understand half the words, and unless the stories were explained by the teacher I had no idea what was happening.
The book club members continued talking about Shakespeare as the weeks passed. I consoled myself with a, “Oh well, we’re all individuals, literacy after all is a personal choice.”
Several months later at yet another book club meeting, I happened to mention what a wonderful writer John Grisham was. Just as I was finishing my sentence one of the members threw back her head and laughed. ‘He’s an airport read,’ she chuckled. And that was when realisation hit. I had fallen in with a group of literary snobs.
As a regular contributor to medium I want to make one point clear. I am not about impressing anyone with my book choice. I read widely. I am about the story, about the characters, about the excitement and the escape. I can’t imaging not reading a Jackie Collins, or a John Grisham, or a Stephen King.
Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with expanding ones horizons. I stuck with book club for fifteen years…and read some fantastic books because of it. Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt, Catcher in the Rye – J D Salinger, Pride and the Prejudice – Jane Austen, The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak, just to name a few.
For me reading is about being true to myself. Every time I open a book I do so with an open mind. I can look back on my life and remember where I indulged in certain books. I read Five on Treasure Island, JAWS, Lolita, Flowers in the Attic, and The Notebook on the beach. I read Sweet Valley High – Double Love, The Outsiders, Huckleberry Fin, The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird on my bed with the sun streaming through the window. And I read The Client, The Shining, Hollywood Wives, The Bridges of Maddison County, The Horse Whisperer and Revolutionary Road on a deck chair by the pool.
No, I am not a literacy snob, never have been and never will be. I still can’t get into Shakespeare but that’s okay. I embrace the person I am and celebrate the wonderful books that I have read.
Here’s a question I would like to leave you with…