The Literary Snob

So most people I meet tend to brand me as the so-called, “literary snob”. Over a period of time I have grown to like the tag. I used to not like it earlier. But that has changed. Every individual has his or her reading tastes to cater to and the ones that seem to fulfill the reader in him or her. It is absolutely okay to look down upon a writer whose work you cannot relate to or like, despite several attempts. If that makes me or anyone else a literary snob, then so be it.

At the same time, I cannot for my life, read a Chetan Bhagat. It has nothing to do with the popular opinion or belief. I just cannot read that guy’s books. I cannot relate to the plot or characters. Nothing is remotely literary about them. I do not look down upon people who read him. That is their choice again. I will not read it.

I also have no fascination with the entire Meluha series. It again does not appease me intellectually. I could very well be re-reading a Lawrence Durrell or Victor Hugo for that matter.

Literary snobs aren’t snobs. They are just people who maybe know better about what they want to read or do not want to touch from a mile. It is as simple as that. Like I keep saying: Why would you want to read a mediocre book if you will not have a mediocre lover? It is only fair.

At the same time, I do not understand people who will force me to read something that I cannot. Case in point: Books by Paulo Coelho. Yes the world reads him and yes the world adores what he writes. I do not. I have tried. The Alchemist did not do anything. Neither did Eleven Minutes (though I enjoyed it to some extent).

So the question is: Why is everyone reading what everyone else is reading? I mean, can’t people decide what they truly like, than maybe just following the herd (or so it seems). It seems like “50 Shades of Grey” is the new “The Alchemist”. Everyone just has to read it. Again, I do not get the hype.

Do not get me wrong. Like I said, I do not have a problem with people reading what they want to. The problem is when they treat this tripe as literature. It is not. They do not know any better because no one tells them or suggests any better. I have never come across an article where any of these writers recommend other books – books which probably they haven’t written. It only makes sense to do that, to maybe widen readers’ horizons and the need for them to read something more, than just wait for the new release of the writer who think is pure genius.

Literary snobs also read thrillers and a nice murder mystery, provided the plot is intriguing. Yes I will look down upon writing, which is riddled with grammatical errors and whose plot is as flimsy or written with the idea of it being made into a blockbuster. Then why write a book? Write a screenplay instead. That should channelize all mental energy and serve the purpose as well.

Everyone is a writer. Almost everyone. At least in India. The point of the matter is: There are few readers. Maybe they are growing, thanks to the pop-writers, which is great. I mean, the more people read, the better it is. However, there is also a need for evolved genres. The need to get out of the comfort zone and be experimental. To read writers you have never heard of. To widen the mental capacity, than just being stuck to a handful of writers and their works.

Again, I say this purely from personal experience. People need to read to escape their drudgery as well. Why not? However, experiencing something new and sticking to it, because you enjoy it and not because the world is reading him or her, sure does make that difference to the next book you will pick up, even if it means seeking a recommendation from a literary snob.

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8 thoughts on “The Literary Snob

  1. mahimakukreja

    Ah, yes. Finally. I relate to this a lot. I have friends coming up and tell me how Chetan Bhagat is great and I should read him and all. People also believe I don’t read him out of popular perceptions about him. But I have, I read ‘three mistakes of my life’ and committed a mistake myself while doing so. Not just him, a few other ‘popular’ authors too. As if it’s your duty to like them. As a reader, one should have full liberty to love a hated author, and to dislike a popular one.

    I think i fell in love with what you said before, to quote you, “Why would you want to read a mediocre book if you will not have a mediocre lover? It is only fair.”. Lovely, really.

    Well written, as always.

    Reply
  2. Chandni

    I think using the word ‘snob’ automatically brings in negative connotations. Why not just say you’re a discerning reader? As you said so rightly, it is more about you knowing what you want to read (and what you could well do without). I don’t get the Coelho Craze too. I don’t mind other people reading it, just don’t try to shove your preferences on me!

    I am quite envious of all the reading you do. AND you even manage to post reviews! Applaude-worthy : )

    Reply
  3. quratzafar

    I agree with the main idea: books are a personal matter. It depends upon individual taste and you can never generalize because the same book can be cherished by one reader and pronounced as a waste of time by another.

    Reply
  4. Zen

    I don’t think my definition of “literary snob” fits yours. To me, literary snobs are those who make fun of others for not enjoying classics or failing to understand the mastery behind them. Like you can’t be considered a bibliophile unless you read and love classics.

    I know what I want to read, and I simply stay away from books that do not interest me. Like you I’ve tried Paolo’s books, but they didn’t do much for me. Veronika Decides to Die was interesting though. =]

    Reply
  5. Reema Sahay

    Wow, I could have written this because this is exactly my case. I read Chetan Bhagat’s dreadful ‘One night @ call centre’, haven’t picked up anything from him after that. Ditto to all the pseudo-writers. Suddenly everyone has a story but the point is they are not stimulating enough. Haven’t read the Meluha series also. People evn got me the book but I did not read. Even I don’t get the hype about ’50 shades of grey’. Besides, those are exactly the two books I have read of Paulo Coelho. Can’t stand his books. The point is there are so many books, even a lifetime is not enough to read them, so why waste time on books which don’t matter or do not make a difference!

    Reply
  6. Benny

    Exactly. I dislike being expected to like something. I like having books recommended to me but I’m immediately put off when someone says, ‘hey man, you should totally read this because everyone likes it!’

    This is the first time I’ve come to your blog. It is fantastic. Stay hungry! :-)

    Reply
  7. little bird

    I agree with your definition–I was just writing a post on my blog about the latest book club selection I can not finish: The Girl Giant by Kristen den Hartog. The book itself is a clumsy, lumbering mess. I can’t finish it. I am always the only one–maybe there is one other woman besides me–who can’t get through some of the books and feel snobby for saying so. But like you, I can’t spend time on a bad book! twoorthreelittlebirds.com

    Reply
  8. Samir

    ‘Literary snobs aren’t snobs. They are just people who maybe know better about what they want to read or do not want to touch from a mile. It is as simple as that. Like I keep saying: Why would you want to read a mediocre book if you will not have a mediocre lover? It is only fair.’ … YES YES YES! Truer words were never uttered.

    Reply

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