On why literary snobbery is meadow muffins

Once upon a time, I ran into a work colleague who had his nose stuck in a book. If there is one thing book-lovers have in common (other than the love of reading), is our cat-like curiosity about the books someone else is currently having an affair with. So I asked him what he was reading.

The Hunger Games. I’m already on book 2 and completely obsessed with it.’

Cool, I’ve heard those are really good.

‘No, you don’t understand. I don’t read books. I never cared about reading, but I started the first volume out of curiosity and now I can’t put it down.’

Disclaimer: I don’t think less of people who tell me they don’t read (fiction or otherwise), but I do feel a bit sorry for them, considering all the parallel lives they’re missing on, so I was genuinely happy to hear about his discovery.

This conversation happened two years ago, give or take. Since then, every time I run into him, he’s sitting somewhere, with a book on his lap.

And I always remember him when I read about the nonsensical debate of literary fiction vs. genre fiction. First, because the line should be between the well-written stories and the badly-written stories – and good stories are found in every single style of literary clothing.

But, more importantly, because, while it’s fairly natural for us to mentally raise scorecards at whichever book someone else happens to be reading, the truth of the matter is that literacy and a love of good books will always be more valuable than literary snobbery.

Header image ©Tom Gauld

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