Saturday, April 07, 2012

Everybody's reading it

I just read over my last post, and realized this one will be somewhat related. But not as long!

Okay, so I have a friend - let's call him Ben. Ben forwarded me a web page the other day with a writer's snarky comments about adults reading YA books, specifically The Hunger Games and Twilight. This despite the fact that he knew I had just read The Hunger Games trilogy, and despite the fact that he read and liked the Harry Potter books. When we talked about it later, two clarifications of sorts emerged. One: he felt that the first Harry Potter book was written without cynical forethought about franchising or movie deals, and that Twilight and The Hunger Games were. The second, which I could much more get on board with, is that part of what he was reacting to was a societal attitude that everyone, of all ages, should read YA books, and specifically these three series.

I could understand that. There are certain books I haven't read and movies I haven't seen that are generally assumed everyone has - the Stieg Larsson books come to mind, as do Dirty Dancing and Avatar. Some of these, I'll admit, are a contrarian point of pride with me. (Cf. Pretty Woman.) I do find it annoying when people make inside references without prefacing them with "Have you read..." or "Have you seen..." I don't think it should be assumed that everyone likes - or should like - the same things.

What I do bristle at is anyone being judged for what they read. The fact that Ben and I share a profession made me all the more chagrined at our exchanges (though I know he would never inappropriately judge a patron). It's my personal and professional opinion that the best reading diet - like the best information diet - is a varied one. Varied subjects, forms, styles, author backgrounds - no one broadens their horizons much in an echo chamber. But that's just my opinion. If someone's reading tastes are confined solely to superhero graphic novels, Regency romances, flarf poetry, new historicist tomes, or the Great Books series, I don't think they should be judged. Everyone has different tastes - and everyone reads for different reasons. Readers should be celebrating their commonality, not tearing each other down.

*gets down from soapbox*