Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don't judge a book by it's cover. Or title. Or genre for that matter.

I'm a book nerd. 

There I've said it. 

To all of my friends, this is not a newsflash.  I've been a book nerd my entire life.

I blame my mother.

She's a book nerd too.

When I was a University student, I got the most awesome job ever.  I started working part-time in a large format bookstore.  After almost 6 years, I had worked in every section of that store including kids, magazines, shipping/receiving, cash and entry level management.  It was awesome.  


Originally I got the job purely for the staff discount so I could actually afford the amount of books I purchased on a monthly basis.  I figured if I needed to work to pay for school, I may as well be dealing with something I enjoyed. 

Now, being a true book nerd, I am not a book snob.  I read everything.  When you work in a bookstore it behoves you to learn about the product you're selling.  You hear about all the popular books and authors all the time and are required to be familiar with them at a minimum.  If you've actually read them and have a first hand opinion, even better because many customers will listen to your recommendations and trust your judgement.

 As I mentioned, I'm not a book snob.  I really will read anything.  Although if anything it's more out of necessity.  That is because on average I read 2-3 books a week.  If I limited myself to a specific genre or topic I would have run out of books by now.  So there really isn't a genre that I haven't tackled at some point or another. 

What I noticed over the years of being an avid reader as well as working in a bookstore is that there are some deeply entrenched stereotypes about the readers of certain types of books.  It's sad because honestly anything that gets anybody reading could never be a bad thing.  And yes, there are some authors/topic/genres that are more interesting than others, but this is all a matter of opinion.  There is no such thing as a silly genre or a bad author.  You may think it's a bad book or a silly topic but somewhere out there, someone enjoyed it. 

Yet people judge you every day if you're seen reading certain types of books in public.

For example.  What do you think when you saw a 20-something woman on the train reading a romance novel? 

Self help book?

Philosophy book? 

Teen fiction?

Sci-fi/Fantasy?

Hard core business book?

The Bible?

All of these types of books have stereotypes that many people subscribe too.

Romance novel?  She obviously has no sex life.

Self help book? Oprah loving nutcase.

Philosophy?  Hippie university student.

Teen fiction?  Must be obsessed with Twilight.

Sci-fi/Fantasy?  No life, no friends, must play D&D in her spare time. 

Business book?  Corporate go-getter.

Don't even get me going on what we presume about people reading the bible or other religious books.

We jump to these conclusions and yet we know nothing about these people.

Personally I have read books in all these categories and more.  But nobody would think anything of it if they saw me reading historical fiction, a mystery novel or a biography.  Pretty narrow minded if you think about it.

So next time you see someone in public reading or browsing a section in your local library or bookstore, don't jump to conclusions.  Better yet, ask them how the book is.  You may surprise yourself.  'Cause the sad thing is?  Most people who read books in these genres are aware of the stereotypes and can guess what you're thinking.  Some even go so far as to be ashamed of it to a certain extent. 

So don't be a snob.  Read something that's outside of your comfort zone.  Ask someone about a book that they are reading that you would never read on your own.  You may surprise yourself. 

Read boldly my fellow book nerds. 

Cheers,

Ash

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