Yesterday, I saw a link to an article (source: Dear Author) that really got me thinking. Brenna Clarke Gray, a teacher, wrote an article for Huffington Post calling for readers to stop apologizing for reading what they like. I love what she has to say on the matter:
You should not apologize for what you like to read. The person you are apologizing to can only fit into one of three categories:
1. He or she shares your joy.
2. He or she doesn’t give a good goddamn.
3. He or she thinks less of you for what you read in which case don’t apologize to that person because he or she is clearly a douchebag who doesn’t deserve your obeisance.
Number 1 requires no apology. Number 2 requires no apology. Number 3 neither requires nor deserves! an apology.
So what, then, do you do when someone you respect or even admire, mocks your choice of reading material? The first time I really felt bad about what I read was in my 9th grade lit class. We had a list of required reading for the semester, and in addition, we were to read additional books of our choice. See that last bit? Of our choice. At that time, I devoured Harlequins, fantasy, and sci-fi. That’s it. That’s pretty much all I read. Back then, I read even more voraciously than I do now. I didn’t have a 60+ hour a week job, no puppies, no ponies, no responsibilities. I lived for my mid-week trip to the local bookstores with my mom, where I would snap up the latest releases from my favorite authors. I was looking forward to that class, because I loved to read, and I figured it would be an easy A.
Imagine my surprise when the teacher showed distain for my book selections. She wrote condescending little notes at the top of my papers that I shouldn’t waste my time reading such tripe. I was embarrassed. Then I was pissed. I read more books than 99% of the population, and this lady was going to make fun of what I read? I am a person who tries to avoid confrontations, and back when I was younger, I was so shy that I rarely spoke in class. So after stewing about those nasty notes, I decided to alter my choice of reading material. Good-bye, tame Harlequins, I would not be reading you for this class. Hello, John Norman, you naughty creator of GOR. You , I will read. And Sharon Green? Hello, Terrilian series and Jalav, Amazon Warrior series. Yes, I will read you, too, because I know that the teacher will hate you all. (She did, but I still got an A)
I was fortunate that my mom encouraged my reading, and she didn’t really care what I read. This made it even more puzzling that a stranger would feel the need to show disapproval of what I read. I thought that the goal of the class was to encourage reading. My bad.
Today, I don’t care what people think of my choice of books. If they think that I am wasting my time reading about zombies or unicorns or fluffy pink bunnies, whatever. Those are not the people I choose to spend my time or energy on. I continually strive to make new connections with people who enjoy reading, without passing judgment, and those are the people I will try to form friendships with.
Has anybody ever made fun of what you read? What did you do about it?