Recently, I returned to my roots as a bookseller and started moonlighting at a new Indie bookstore that opened close to home. (Yes- a new bookstore actually opened!) Though I’m only there a couple of times a week, I’ve really enjoyed connecting with individual readers and having the opportunity to recommend favourite books.
A week or two ago, I was discussing YA fiction with a customer (who avidly reads YA) and in the course of conversation, she admitted that she didn’t like The Fault in Our Stars, and is not a John Green fan.
What particularly struck me was that the woman was actually apologetic about not liking his books as though she were doing something wrong by not being among his legions of fans.
This got me thinking. There has been a lot of discussion lately about shaming people for liking certain books (ie- Slate Magazine article about YA), but there’s another side of it too. We also have a tendency to shame people for not liking certain books, which in my view is equally as bad. It’s almost like a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes. You know he’s not wearing any clothes, but not wanting to rock the boat you’ll never admit it.
I didn’t enjoy reading The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings and I can’t tell you how many disdainful looks I’ve received from people whenever I’ve said this. They look at me as though I’m somehow faulty for not liking something that is widely appreciated and beloved. I tried really hard to like them, and I’ve picked them up more than once, thinking that being a different reader and a different age I might feel differently about them.
But why am I trying so hard to like them? Why should I (or anyone) feel guilty for NOT liking something that the majority does? There are millions of books in print, and not every book is for every person. Reading is an act of pleasure, made more so by our ability to share, discuss and debate. Read what you like, don’t read what you don’t, and never feel embarrassed to be honest about your feelings towards a book.