The Problem with Book Snobbery

Book snobbery – perhaps it’s such an age old thing at this point that we’re just expected to sit back and accept it. Maybe we should read pompous articles written by irritating English Literature graduates and laugh. I suppose, if they’re being employed by a newspaper, they must know what they’re talking about… right?

Apparently not. I’ve noticed this problem quite a lot over the past few years, but at this point, it’s gone beyond a joke. Articles constantly appear on the internet, repeatedly, from the same snobs who have this rather unusual opinion that a novel that has sold more than ten copies ought to be treated with at least some level of suspicion. After all, people don’t read anymore. At least, you don’t read unless you’re an upper class man. And if you hear of a book that sells several million copies… well that’s just wrong. Totally wrong. It’s past suspicion at that point, you must hate it outright, and of course, write what you consider to be a witty article about the author, their lack of talent, and their lack of comprehension of true writing skill.

I’m not denying that some books are bad. Some books are, in fact, woeful, and have succeeded in being astonishingly popular. Take Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga as an example. Her books are dull, daytime soap opera material with bland, two-dimensional characters and a meandering plot. Yet they sold millions of copies. But the thing is that I’m actually allowed to make these judgements on the books, as I have read them. On the other hand, there are so many people I have spoken to who tell me that the Twilight Saga is awful, only for them to reveal later on that they’re never even read them.

The most recent example of this book snobbery comes with the news that JK Rowling, author of the bestselling Harry Potter series, is to release her first book for adults: The Casual Vacancy next September.

The usual articles conveying excitement popped up of course, but were soon smothered by the other side of the scale. Take Sameer Rahim’s article for The Telegraph as an example. He opens his article with a run-of-the-mill witty line about fans doing “cartwheels in anticipation”, but of course, goes on to do the usual book snob thing of failing to understand the appeal of Rowling’sHarry Potter book series. And then he gives the one line that makes his entire article a waste of time. He reveals that he has only read the first three of the seven Harry Potter books.

Of course, he goes on to judge the author herself on the three earliest books, questions her writing style, questions why seventeen and eighteen years old’s still read them… the list of problems he finds with the news that a bestselling author is releasing a new novel is really rather astounding.

An article that’s perhaps even more embarrassing for the author is John Crace’s Guardian rant. In fact, the entire article holds nothing whatsoever of value, so you’ll be forgiven for not reading it. It’s simply this snob’s witty take on the whole affair. The sad part is that not one line in this article is in the slightest bit funny. It’s boring, bland, silly, and totally unoriginal. Just another excuse for someone who probably sits around reading Shakespeare all day to decry the downward spiral of fine literature.

One thing I love is an opinion; a debate is healthy and fun. But what are these articles, exactly? They’re rants from people who know very little about the author or her work, attempting to be witty and entertaining, and most of all, failing miserably.


6 comments on “The Problem with Book Snobbery

  1. I based the Twilight saga on what I’ve seen. The film did no justice to the book… so im not going to read it.. at all.

  2. I tried reading Twilight, but I found the writing so boring that I couldn’t finish it.

    The plot of the new Rowling book seems interesting enough, but I will wait and get it from the library.

  3. JK Rowling is amazingly talented. These so called “authors” could learn a thing or two from her.

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