I don’t mean to be unkind, but I don’t get how you can claim to “love books” and have a shelf full of Harry Potter and Jodi Picault. Have we created a nation of people who honestly believe that “reading” is one of their hobbies because they own a copy of The DaVinci Code? Where did we go wrong?
Your homework: Burn your books. All of them. If you think they’re good books, then burn everything else you have that you think is good. Don’t give them away, or donate them – that’s just moving the problem on to some other poor bastard.
Now populate your shelves with: William Faulkner; Vladimir Nabokov; Ernest Hemingway; Hunter S. Thompson; Kurt Vonnegut; Nikolai Gogol; Fyodor Dostoevsky; Frank Kafka; and that’s just for starters.
Come back to me for further recommendations when the fog has lifted from your brain.
I’d forgotten about this lovely reply to one of my photos from 7 years ago. Oh, literary snobbery, you haven’t changed much.
I’d forgotten about it too. I hope you’ve developed a love of literature in the last 7 years, or at least burned your copy of The DaVinci Code.
And what have we learned?
- Never confuse “snobbery” or “elitism” for having standards. (If you don’t have any standards for yourself, then why should anyone else?)
- Never confuse “popular” with “good”. (If every book on your bookshelf appeared on a best-seller list, how do you tell the difference?)
- Learn to accept criticism, especially from people who have no investment in whether you take their advice or not. (If you find it difficult to accept criticism, you’re missing out on many opportunities to improve. Here are my book reviews. I might have got it all wrong. Please feel free to reblog any of them with any criticism you may have – let’s get a conversation going! I’ve also started a blog of simplified classics called Pretend You’ve Read. Please feel free to criticise anything you feel I got wrong there, too. Why not? Hone your reader’s instincts.)
- Keep pushing forward. (Otherwise, what are you doing with your life?)
- Always try to be a better version of yourself. (ditto)
- Put your energy into creating things, making things and helping people, not into destroying things, taking things apart or trashing people. (I made that post with the sole intention of improving your life. I wasn’t try to upset you or make you feel bad or come across as “snobbery”. I was trying to help you understand what literature is, what it can do, and how you can cut yourself off a slice of that crazy action.)
- A great way to learn to be a better version of yourself is to read literature. (I assume you understand this better than you did seven years ago. At least, I hope so!)
All from that one little post I reblogged from you 7 years ago.
Let’s be friends!
Well actually, my career in publishing and the book industry – which I hadn’t yet begun when I posted this – is down to my passion for all books, whether they’re deemed to be “literature” or not. The book industry is not sustained by holding onto the novels of dead white men, but by recognising that there are gems in all genres, and valuing all readers.
I personally love children’s books and YA. But I also ran a successful Classic Challenge for five years. (Don’t think that was anything to do with you, dear reader).
I have not moved on from Harry Potter or A Series of Unfortunate Events (maybe Dan Brown, but hey, it was seven years ago) and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” – Haruki Murakami
William Faulkner; Vladimir Nabokov; Ernest Hemingway; Hunter S.
Thompson; Kurt Vonnegut; Nikolai Gogol; Fyodor Dostoevsky; Frank Kafka.
Wow. White guys. So many white guys. They are the one true coming of all literature.
Wow. This guy. Telling OP that all her interests are trash and that she should burn them so she could learn about real literature. Then, seven years later, telling her he was doing it to improve her life.
This whole set of interactions is so new and different. It’s almost like it hasn’t happened a billion times in the last day. Wow.
Good grief. What a tool.
Don’t you know all good arguments start with “burn that book”?
The day someone tells me to burn books of any kind is the day I know that they are a moron who believes in censorship of individual taste and of FUN. The day that person only recommends books that are on any school syllabus and doesn’t branch out beyond them underscores the point with fifteen exclamation marks.
Probably my favorite is the fact that OP had 2 obvious Richard Dawkins books (The Selfish Gene and The Greatest Show on Earth) indicating a wide and well-nourished range of interests – from evolutionary biology to young adult fantasy to women’s fiction. (and how satisfying and beautiful is her bookshelf!!) I mean, the cure for a balanced literary diet is not “apply a small wodge of tedious historical men’s fiction following the same themes.”
Meanwhile, her self-appointed critic literally just has a list of dead white American/Russian men who wrote Gritty Literary Fiction About Sad Stuff during a narrow period of history. THEY’RE NOT EVEN THE PRETENTIOUS CLASSICS! THEY’RE NOT EVEN THE OBSCURE FARE!
I am actually a lot more accepting about people being snotty about Classics ™ because I accept that they’ve gone so deep that they probably don’t realize how much they need to decompress – they have lost their adaptations to surface life and normal human interaction, like those deepwater fish that you have to bring up slowly in your net, or they’ll burst. But imagine bringing yourself to be snobby about angsty men’s fiction written between 1800 and 2000.
(Also, Frank Kafka. We shouldn’t laugh)
From dumbass’s bio:
I am 41 years old and I live in Ireland.
Oh my god. You are a fucking grown-ass adult. What is your damage that you felt the need to shit on a young woman’s taste in books? People have already pointed out your narrow focus on what you consider to be “good” literature. I would challenge you to read a book not by a white guy every once in a while. You might learn something.
If I ever meet dumbass IRL I will fight him. Physically.
I feel like a point by point answer is warranted, here…
- I’d forgotten about it too. I hope you’ve developed a love of
literature in the last 7 years, or at least burned your copy of The DaVinci Code.
She had a love of literature the
whole time. Did you mean to ask whether she had narrowed her interests to match
- And what have we learned?
Nothing good, I’m afraid. We’ve learned that not only have you not realized in
seven years that your previous comment was unwarranted, not at all welcomed,
unproductive, condescending, rude and driven by an astounding inability to
recognize another person’s right to seek happiness through anything else than
the exact intellectual pursuits you have elected, you are the kind of person
who will double down on comments such as this and even elaborate in a
transparent effort to convey your imagined intellectual and moral superiority by
pretending to merely be trying to elevate your lesser fellow creatures.
- Never confuse “snobbery” or “elitism”
for having standards. (If you don’t have any standards for yourself,
then why should anyone else?)
Let’s keep it simple and ignore
whether or not the standards you have are desirable. It’s debatable at best,
but irrelevant to the present discussion.
Choosing what you read based on what
you perceive the quality of the material to be is having standards for
Assuming your opinion on novels and
other books is more valid than another person’s and presuming to tell them what
to enjoy is elevating yourself above them. It’s snobbery and elitism, in this
case based on a perceived intellectual superiority. Note that it is snobbery and elitism whether
or not the intellectual superiority is real.
- Never confuse “popular” with “good”. (If
every book on your bookshelf appeared on a best-seller list, how do
you tell the difference?)
confusing popular with good is a piece of conventional wisdom everybody has
heard at one point or another and which is difficult to argue. Unfortunately, most
people who use it do so in an attempt to paint their rejection of something
popular as worthy of admiration rather than as the simple expression of personal
taste that it is. In order to achieve that, they apply the term popular
strictly to the concept of mainstream popularity and use the word good to
strictly mean adhering to whatever standard of quality they believe in.
One problem with this kind of
philosophy is that this defines a double standard for popularity, where popularity
within one group (the majority of the population) is viewed as insignificant if
not a downright condemnation, while popularity within another group (like, say,
classic literature experts) is perceived as a crowning achievement or as high
praise and proof of quality. It is, again, a sign that an individual or a group
perceives themselves as superior, and their opinion on what constitutes worthy
entertainment as more valuable than most. It goes well beyond stating their opinion
for the benefits of like-minded peers when they move from sharing their
favorites to insisting nothing else is worth reading.
The second problem is the implied
idea that only books which meet your criteria of quality, or which have a
certain literary value, are good. This denies the entertainment value of books
and reduces their role to merely being a subject of intellectual study. Many books
that will never become classics or be worthy of countless re-readings, that do
not aspire to inspire thought or to provoke societal changes, exist solely to
provide entertainment to their readers. If they achieve that and are enjoyed
while doing no harm, they are good books. They may not be smart books, they may
not be world changing books, but they are books that made some people happier
for at least a short while.
- Learn to accept criticism, especially from people
who have no investment in whether you take their advice or not. (If you
find it difficult to accept criticism, you’re missing out on many
opportunities to improve. Here are my book reviews.
I might have got it all wrong. Please feel free to reblog any of them with
any criticism you may have – let’s get a conversation going! I’ve also started
a blog of simplified classics called Pretend You’ve
Read. Please feel free to criticise anything you feel I got
wrong there, too. Why not? Hone your reader’s instincts.)
advice as such. I hope you follow it and heed my words here. I do feel the need
to point out that critics generally do have an investment in whether or not
their advice is followed, else they would not give it uninvited and certainly
not in so much detail. You probably meant to say that you do not stand to make
any material gain one way or the other, which is most likely correct. I would
say that, just like me and many others, your investment when you give advice to
a stranger online lies in the pleasure you derive from influencing people. It
is not a selfless action. That doesn’t mean that enjoying changing people’s
mind is a bad thing, but painting it as a selfless effort to educate others is
being dishonest with both the people you’re talking to and with yourself.
- Keep pushing forward. (Otherwise, what are you
doing with your life?)
not bad advice. I would say you should follow it yourself and push forward in
your readings, too. Everything you recommended is old and written by people
from the same demographic… it may be time to open yourself up a bit more to
new narratives and learn to ALSO enjoy the writings of at least some of your
contemporaries and some people who are not white men.
- Always try to be a better version of yourself. (ditto)
You’re implying that the original
poster is currently an inferior version of themselves. I’m going to assume it’s
merely a bad choice of words because you added ‘ditto’. I feel this was
probably meant to temper the attack by presenting it as a universal goal that
even you share, but you have spent a good bit of time now demonstrating that
your views have not evolved in seven years and that you do not see that as an
issue, effectively making it impossible to believe that you actively strive to
become a better you.
Just the same, I do think you didn’t
mean it that way, or you would not have felt the need to try and temper it.
Maybe you meant to advise to embrace personal growth? My comments on that would
repeat what I said on your previous bullet point.
- Put your energy into creating things, making
things and helping people, not into destroying things, taking things apart
or trashing people. (I made that post with the sole intention of
improving your life. I wasn’t try to upset you or make you feel bad or
come across as “snobbery”. I was trying to help you understand what
literature is, what it can do, and how you can cut yourself off a slice of
that crazy action.)
I again feel like you’re not
following your own good advice. Your previous post, and the opening of this
one, called for destroying creative writings you deemed unworthy and therefore,
taking those writings apart and trashing their authors or at least their authors’
If you wish to help people
understand what literature is, or to put it in terms that do not imply you are
the ultimate authority on the subject, if you wish to help people appreciate
your favorite authors, you might find merely expressing your own love for their
books would work a lot better. Imagine the conversation you could have started,
which could very well have ended with the original poster going out to find
books you recommended, if you’d simply posted something along the lines of “I’m
an avid reader too! My favorites are […], I don’t go for best sellers much. Did
you ever read [pick one of your favorite book]? I recommend it to everyone, I love
it because […].”
That’s what helping people appreciate
what you love looks like once you subtract the urge to portray yourself as
superior and the delusion that only your own preferences are valid.
- A great way to learn to be a better version of
yourself is to read literature. (I assume you understand this better
than you did seven years ago. At least, I hope so!)
It seems like the literature you’ve
been reading has not helped you develop the qualities of modesty and respect. I
hope it has helped you better yourself in other ways since it seems to be what
you desire from it.
- Let’s be friends!
it is a common theme of what you would probably deem unworthy works of fiction that love
and friendship develop from one party displaying a solid belief in their own
superiority and a complete inability to show any respect for the other party’s
interests and opinions.It reflects the real world about as much as dragons do.
I’m crying Karama this is so beautiful
Hemingway said that writing was easy. “All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.”
All books have value, because even if you dislike them or disagree with them, you are refining your tastes and skills to express your own tale using their pages. They are the records of misdeeds, of hopes, of thought processes. They are cultural waves, metamorphosis, age, and transition. They are the footsteps of your migration through time. They are wisdom and the gaining of it. They are all art, whether you know how to appreciate them or not, because all art is expression. All art is commentary. All art is reflective.
Any man who demands you destroy this has no respect for anything. I’d rather put him on a barbecue spit and burn him, sacrificing one life for the good of many, than to ever allow one book to touch a flame.
“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read!” – William Faulkner
“Just as the universal family of gifted writers transcends national barriers, so is the gifted reader a universal figure, not subject to spatial or temporal laws. It is he—the good, the excellent reader—who has saved the artists again and again from being destroyed by emperors, dictators, priests, puritans, philistines, political moralists, policemen, postmasters, and prigs. Let me define this admirable reader. He does not belong to any specific nation or class. No director of conscience and no book club can manage his soul. His approach to a work of fiction is not governed by those juvenile emotions that make the mediocre reader identify himself with this or that character and “skip descriptions.” The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book. The admirable reader does not seek information about Russia in a Russian novel, for he knows that the Russia of Tolstoy or Chekhov is not the average Russia of history but a specific world imagined and created by individual genius. The admirable reader is not concerned with general ideas; he is interested in the particular vision. He likes the novel not because it helps him to get along with the group (to use a diabolical progressive-school cliche); he likes the novel because he imbibes and understands every detail of the text, enjoys what the author meant to be enjoyed, beams inwardly and all over, is thrilled by the magic imageries of the master-forger, the fancy-forger, the conjuror, the artist. Indeed of all the characters that a great artist creates, his readers are the best” – Vladimir Nabokov
“I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature
has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far.
Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.” – Kurt Vonnegut
“Writing is a form of prayer” – FRANZ Kafka
For reference, @solo1y that’s what your “great classic authors” had to say about the value of the written word.
Perhaps you should have read more closely.