November 24, 2012

Pajama Musings - Thou shalt not judge!

I know I know ... instead of being happy that people are actually reading we should not make funny /shocked/disgusted faces when we realize they are reading books we'd never even touch with a ten foot pole. Of course reading something is better than reading nothing at all.

Confession time.

And I am not ashamed to say it out loud. 

I. Am. Being. Judgmental.

Of course I realize tastes are different and not everyone will like the same genres, so I'm certainly not scoffing at anyone for reading outside of my own comfort zone. Though every once in a while there comes a book along which turns me into a totally judgmental ├╝ber-bitch.

Created at MemeCreator

Exhibit A - The 50 Shades of Grey books.

First of all it's not the kind of genre I typically read. Secondly the plot itself makes me stifle a big fat yawn. Thirdly some of my most trusted fellow book bloggers have literally suffered through the first book and consequently felt the same way I am feeling without even having read the first page. Sadly, this excludes Ally and I'm still heart-broken over this, boohoo!

So yes, I judge books I haven't even read. I never claimed I'd be all fair about this. You can think (or say, for that matter) what you want about my confession. Obviously I wouldn't make a blog post about this if I felt even slightly embarrassed about the whole thing. Well, maybe I'd put it into the category of "self-reflection", but I'm not. I'm standing on my soap-free box and scream it out so the whole world knows.

I. Am. Passing. Judgement. 

And every reader who claims they never do that is a liar. 

Granted, not everyone will condemn certain books without having read them, so you do get your own 50 shades, though in this case of judgmental bias. And I am fairly sure that there are readers who are a lot worse than yours truly. Those who wouldn't even shake your hand if they found out you've never read Shakespeare (which I haven't).

The thing is, I am not condemning the author. Live and let live, or rather, write and let write. Yet when readers get all excited and flustered because they absolutely luuuv a book which I consider junk, then I am putting my best scowl on, mumbling some not so nice things to myself, while all the time knowing that there's a book for every person, so apparently a certain book has found its audience.

So, now that we've established that I don't necessarily judge a book by its cover, but most certainly a reader by their books, I wonder who is brave enough to share their own judgmental streaks when it comes to the taste of fellow readers.

Anyone?

*distant sound of crickets*

25 comments:

  1. I'm judgmental and not afraid to say it ;-)

    When one of my best friends told me she had bought Fifty Shades of Grey, I actually gave her a lecture about what a crappy book it is, and for giving in to the hype.

    Not so much judgmental, but I am also disappointed in people that religiously stick to a particular genre and never venture outside of it. Trying something new can be a risk but it can also open up a whole new load of books to love!

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    1. Good thing I do like to read outside my comfort zone every once in a while. Saves me from being judged, ha.
      And yay to having found another judgmental soul who's not afraid to admit to it!

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  2. You've never read Shakespeare *judging you*

    I judge people who judge books they haven't read. I read 50 Shades when it was fanfic *judge me* and it was bad even for fanfic. When I heard that it was being published I laughed at their folly, but I guess they got the last laugh. I genuinely judge people who think these books are good because then I wonder what other crap they read. Whenever someone on Goodreads gives this 5 stars I have to go to their shelves to see what they read and it's nearly always some type of "low-brow litterature."

    Now I've been called a book snob, which is rather true, and I judge people who read Harlequin novels - not because of the cheesy plots but because they are so poorly written. I also disagree with the notion that "at least they're reading." No. They might as well go outside and take a walk or watch a film. Yes, it ultimately comes down to taste, but when a book is so poorly written as 50 Shades (based on another shitty book, Twilight) I honestly believe that it does a great disservice to the reader. The repetition and lack of grammar is unforgivable to those of us who understand and respect these things, but people who are ignorant of them actually believe that this is how writing is done. No. And I've had this argument with a friend (I'm sad to say) who honestly believes that they are well-written. Mind you, all she reads is cheap chic-lit (which I hate for other reasons) so what does she know?

    I'd cry for humanity but I have to save my tears for more important things.

    Apologies for the long rant.

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    1. Yeah, I know, no Shakespeare. Unless you count watching dramatizations on the big screen *gasp*.
      I guess what it all boils down to is that we all are, some more some (a lot) less, book snobs. Some admit to it while others don't.
      Either way, one thing you mentioned and which I wholeheartedly agree to is that bad writing (aka grammar that makes your teeth hurt) is totally unforgivable *shudders in disgust*.
      No need to apologize for your long comment - it's great to get so many different opinions from my readers! And it certainly shows this topic hit a nerve ...

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  3. You didn't read the book? You shouldn't judge it. I didn't read your blog post any further than to the point where you said you didn't read the book.

    Why should I care about your opinion on something you don't know about? I'll happily read your next blogpost but this one... nope.

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    1. I appreciate your honesty in this matter! :-) That said, my next raves and/or rants will certainly be about books I've actually read!

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  4. I agree with Judith that you shouldn't call a book crap if you haven't read it (but I did finish your post). It IS crap but that is neither here nor there in this case.
    I try not to judge people by the books they read, because, God knows, I read stuff that others consider crap, too.
    I also think you should not judge people if they don't read out of their comfort zone. Why should they? Most people don't read to educate themselves, widen their horizon or other higher purpose than just entertainment and escapism. If reading out of their comfort zone makes them uncomfortable or worse, why on Earth should they do it?
    I do admit that I am somewhat a book snob and think that people at some point in their life should have read certain books, but if they haven't, it's their loss, and probably they don't even consider it to be a loss. Each to his own.
    What I don't quite understand is why you do not judge the author, but the reader. If someone was able to produce such shite, surely they deserve the same judgement.
    There, my rant for the day, :)

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    1. Ah I love a good discussion and funny (or maybe not) how my preconceptions collide with common sense (because I am well aware I should not have an opinion about something I only "know" through hearsay) because outside of reading I usually try to keep my mouth shut if I don't actually know what I'm talking about.
      It's strange, really, seeing how I don't hold it against anyone what kind of author/genre/etc they prefer, but then I end up going through the roof over certain books (maybe once in a decade) mostly because it's hyped into heaven while (and I am apparently a trusting person) many a reader made it clear that, to them, the writing is abysmal.
      So, generally, I agree - to each their own. But I'm not perfect, I'm certainly not unbiased, and more often than not I am anything but diplomatic either when it comes to expressing my thoughts. However, I have this rare trait called honesty which is why I decided to post this - seeing how I judge, it's only fair to be judged for what I say (or write) as well.
      Oh and you asked about why I don't blame the writer. Well, I'm certainly not endorsing bad writing, but I see it this way - while the writer puts it out there (and possibly maybe simply doesn't know how to write better than he or she does) it's the reader who picks it up (and praises it into heaven despite it being utter crap). This is far to simplistic, I know, but to me it seems it's not the writer's fault that the reader reads (though obviously that is every writer's dream). And now, let's be done with this ... and read.

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  5. Out in the real world there are so many people that don't read books. True. If they pick up a book that I think is crap and actually decide they quite like reading and go on to read other things then YAY! I might discourage people from reading a book I don't think is for them but I'm not going to go round making people feel bad for reading when they could be spending the time watching reality TV or getting. I don't live in a very literary palce so I know a lot of people like that. So I disagree with FBT. Making people read a book that is outside someone's reading ability or desire is only going to make them think reading isn't for them. Better they read something a bit crap but easy and fun and get the taste for better things.

    I can't be a book snob because I'd have to tell myself off for reading fun stuff when I feel like it and that's not what the love of reading is about for me.

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    1. Tell me about it. I know so many people who haven't touched a book in years and if they picked up a dime novel it'd at least be a start.
      Honestly, I feel I am quite a bit of a book snob, oddly enough I rarely gaze into the looking glass, raising my eyebrows at some of the books I read. Not afraid to admit to my hypocrisy though, now am I?

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    2. Ellie, we can agree to disagree, but I just have to say that I would never force anyone to read a book that was outside of their reading ability. What would be the point of that? What I am saying is that there are well-written books in every genre and for all ages. Is it really too much to ask for a book to be written in proper grammar? Take Twilight and those House of Night books - neither are high-brow literature, but I'd recommend the latter because it's better written.

      Like I said, we'll probably never see eye to eye on this, I just felt the need to elaborate since you mentioned me in your post. Oh and only for scientifical purposes could watching reality television ever be justified, imo.

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    3. Reality TV? If I shared my stance on that things could get really ugly ... ;-D

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  6. Guys, guys, guys! This post is totally about me :)))) Anyway, I still marvel at the thought of finishing the second volume and still wanting to read the third (loool, you will totally hate me, Birgit) but that's just one shade of my other 49... I did read all of Shakespeare's plays, I enjoy postmodernist literature and the French "New Wave", but I am not ashamed to read crappy books once in a blue moon. It made me laugh, it was incredibly predictable and I do need simpler literature from time to time and in-between those Nobel prize books.
    As for passing judgement, I stopped doing that when I realized that there is no accounting for taste... Seeing around me how students struggle with reading, seeing one reading a crappy love story is better than not reading at all and developing into an adult who cannot articulate a few sentences.

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    1. You're certainly not afraid of a little bookish experimentation. *wiggles eyebrows* Who knew you had such a ... errr, kinky side when it comes to reading? Just teasing!
      Looking at your usual book fare it's just, well, a surprising change to know that you read this book (or, in fact, the first two books).
      Who knows? Maybe one day I will surprise everyone by reading Shakespeare! I think I might wet my appetite by watching Ralph Fiennes in a Shakespeare play first. *wiggles eyebrows again*

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  7. P.S. Will you ever forgive me, Birgit? :)

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  8. I'm judgmental as well =D I can't believe people actually obsess about 50 Shades of Grey...Puke, lol.

    I'm also judgmental when it comes to The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I found that book to be the most boringest book EVER!!! Yet a lot of people say it's fantastic. I think I'd rather read 50 Shades of Gray then have to read The Host over again, lol.

    x

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    1. Good thing I never read "The Host" otherwise I might be judged now, hahaha! Though I know what you mean - I've read a fair share of books that received rave reviews and all I could think was that those books are just bloody awful, both plot-wise and the narrative itself.

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  9. I used to be a terrible book snob. It it was sold on the racks of Walmart, I turned my nose up at it. I would read classics, literature worthy of translation and literary fiction. Then I went back to school for my masters. Being a mother of two and attending graduate school meant that I had little time to read for pleasure. My brain cells were overworked so when friends started recommending books such as Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Sookie Stackhouse series, I found that I could lower my reading standards and enjoy it.

    I'm finished with my degree now and have the time to (and brain energy) to read deep philosophical books again but sometimes I need a good escape that books like In the Shadow of the Banyon or Life of Pi just don't give me. So, I still enjoy a simple YA novel or romance or urban fantasy in between the good books.

    For the most part, I've stopped judging people on what they read. Life it too short. Although I still refuse to read most self-published novels or poorly written romances (which is most of them lol).

    Oh, and I did read Fifty Shades (and the second one). They won't win any literary awards but they were fun to read. ;)

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    1. Jenifer, I would not say that you enjoy those books "in between the good books". Because it all depends on what you are looking for. Admittedly some books are poorly written and generally of low quality plot wise, but e.g. Sookie or the Black Dagger Brotherhood (the first 5 books of which I loved) ARE good books if you are looking for Urban Fantasy. A book does not have to be world literature or Nobel Prize winning fiction to be good.

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    2. Ultimately it's all a matter of perspective. And if we are picky with food why not with books too?
      If I want to just read for fun, it's usually fiction (could be anything from sci-fi to poetry) which I will pick up, but I've been known to read non fiction just for pleasure as well. I bet a lot of people will find this pretty weird, then again, we all have different tastes and bookish needs. Now if only I could get over that 50 Shades thing ...

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    3. "Now if only I could get over that 50 Shades thing ..."

      lol, Birgit, you should just read it so you can say you did. ;)

      Rikkim I think you are right. Even with my light fiction/urban fantasy, I am still quite picky.

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    4. The whole thing feels like a trip to the dentist, hahaha! Well, more on the topic in next week's *Pajama Musings* ...

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  10. I have to wonder if it is suddenly 95* with high humidity in Austria? Because this post seems quite a bit cranky and not at all like you. Personally, I really don't give a damn what anyone likes to read, as long as they aren't in my business telling me what to read (or not to). To each their own. Despite your claim that everyone is judgmental, I really don't believe I am. Most of the people in my life have very different reading tastes, even you and I read very different material. I've never judged you for your selections, although now I'm thinking perhaps you have judged me...

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    1. Amy, it's neither too hot nor too cold, but is this one hell of a discussion post or what? *woohoo*
      To answer your question, no I don't judge you for what you like to read. I mean it. Don't ask me why once a decade a book comes along that makes me get "cranky" as you put it, it just happens. Plus, my partial attitude in this post is there on purpose.
      I do stand by my claim that everyone is judgmental (to a degree). If you've ever, just for a moment, thought something along the lines of "I can't believe he/she watches/wears/eats/etc this [fill in TV show/clothes/food you'd never watch/wear/eat because you find it awful/slutty/disgusting]" then you are being judgmental. Of course usually we have these thoughts for a second or so, then we think of more delightful things, but it is human nature to have such thoughts sometimes and most of the time no one (but me, apparently) thinks that taking this a huge step further and making a blog post out of it is a good idea.

      P.S.: This should all make for a truly interesting "aftermath" post next week!

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