Friday, 14 January 2011

Random Ramblings (1) You don't read!...do you?

Random Ramblings is a new feature I’m starting on my blog. They may sometimes be book related, sometimes they might be personal. One thing for sure is there all going to be my thoughts and opinions on things and it should help you all get to know me better. So let’s get on with it! I hope you like them and I would really appreciate some feedback in the comments letting me know your thoughts on the feature as a whole or about the subject matter.
The other day I got to thinking about stereotypes and snobbery when it comes to books and reading. I still remember the day I bought my first serious boyfriend home. We’d been going out for 3 weeks and were still in that less talking more can’t keep our hands off each other new relationship faze. We really didn’t know much about each other at that point, anyway he came into my room and stared bug eyed open mouthed at the pile of books on my bedside table. His shock soon turned into confusion as he asked “ you don’t read!...do you?” in an amused voice. Truth was I wasn’t that surprised. I’d gotten it since high school. I went on to tell him that yes I loved books and reading and why should he be so surprised? He then answered that I didn’t look like the kind of girl who read books for fun. As I said this wasn’t the first time someone had said that to me but it’s the one in my memory that most stands out. As you can probably tell from my blog I’m very much a girly girl, always have been although it really came to a height of constantly wearing pink and loving anything glittery in high school. I was never one of the popular crowd but I wasn’t exactly a misfit either. I was in a fairly respected clique and whilst I wasn’t right at the top of the high school popularity chain I was still fairly high up. The popular girls would invite us to parties and things so I guess we were considered “cool” to some extent. So because I was one of “those girls” people always found it shocking when they learned that I was a big time nerd behind the perfume and pink. I had a brain and liked to exercise it regularly by reading.
Another time that stands out to me was when we were waiting for an English class to start, I noticed this girl who was considered really uncool reading a Harry Potter book. That kind of stuff never mattered to me and of course being a book worm I was hugely excited and went right up to her and had a good old natter about good old Harry and Hogwarts. It wasn’t until I got up to leave that I realised that *everybody* was staring at us, whispering, wondering why I was talking to this girl. Wondering what on earth we possibly had in common.
Although since high school my extreme legally blond faze has calmed down, I am still at heart a very girly girl. So even to this day if I meet a reader 90 per cent of the time they’ll look down their nose at me. Because I enjoy YA and Chick-lit there not “proper” books and so I’m not really a serious reader. How dare I try and talk about a classic? Surely I’ve only watched the TV adaption? Go back to your vampires little girl and let us real readers discuss books. I’ve been stereotyped my whole life and as a teenager that was hard. I never felt like I quiet fit in with any group of people. The “serious readers” would snob on me for not reading “proper” books and my friends just wouldn’t get why I liked to read full stop. People have never really understood how I could be into so many different things and I think it hurt a lot of peoples brains trying to figure out a label to put on me. It wasn’t until I found the world of book blogging that I discovered people who got me and didn’t turn their noses up at the fact that yes I read chick-lit and preferred YA to other genres but I also love historical fiction and classics and fantasy too. I’ve found people who love books from all over the world. Who have different races and interests and personalities, who read all kinds of books completely busting the geeky stereotype that goes along with a reader.
I feel that these days since the popularity of twilight reading has definitely become more accepted and I’m glad of that. I’m glad that more and more people are discovering why reading is awesome and that people are embracing the types of books they like to read without fear of judgment. It may sound trivial but not feeling like I fit in made a big difference to my confidence in high school and it makes me want to use my blog to change people’s perceptions on reading. Reading is fun and you should never feel ashamed for reading what you like to read. Read Young Adult and hold your head up high, heck read Mills and Boon and don’t try to hide the cover at the beach! Support the books you love because if you don’t show your love for them how is anybody else going to discover them? So here’s a note to anyone who’s ever asked me why I liked to read, who’s ever been either shocked that I could possibly enjoy a book or that I enjoy reading a certain type of book. I LOVE books! And you should really try it some time. Because it truly, freakin’, ROCKS.

20 comments :

  1. I love reading! I am sorry you were misjudged like that. I am in high school, but the weird thing is that my friends actually like reading. Well some of them do. Including my closest friend. We swap books and talk about them. We get along with everybody in my grade and we are not judged because we read, we socialize and hang out with other friends and they accept us as who we are: Bookworms. I love your blog and I agree with you 100% reading is freakin awesome!

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  2. Great post!
    I get the same with all my friends :)
    They are all like "OMG how can you read a book a day?! That's, like, impossible!"
    Haha. They dont mean anything by it, though it's kinda annoying.
    Reading is amazing!
    Go bookish people!!!!

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  3. This is such an awesome post hun, tis horrible that people couldn't understand your book addiction back in high school. I think I was fortunate to be known as the "Nerdy Book Girl" from the outset so no one was surprised if I went off on a Harry Potter squee fest :P
    The internet is a gift for book lovers as blogs, fansites etc. can bring together people who have ridiculous amounts of stuff in common who might never have met in real life ;)
    Thank God for Twilight *snort*

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  4. I know how you feel, I mean it was completely uncool to read when I was at school, I got strange looks but I wasn't as confident back then as I am now so it was hard for me. I mean I am so comfortable with myself now and really? couldn't care less if I get those looks, but now if anything, it's curiosity, and strangely at times admiration? I always get the "Well you must be quite clever" and I just give them the are you retarded look?

    Reading is just natural to some and it's not for some and that's fine, why people have to stereotype those who do just because they don't is beyond me. The thing with me is that I was surrounded by people who not only didn't get my reading, but my family who even now are not to fond of me reading, but in a sense have come to accept it. It took a lot of battling from my side for things to get at this point though.

    Reading isn't something a reader is willing to compromise, which is why I always get annoyed when parents tell their children what they can or can not read, I feel a child has enough sense to know what is for them or not. If they can make the decision that they want to read then I am sure they can make the decision what they want to read.In telling them what they can or can not read you are only holding them back. Ok jess I think I feel a discussion post coming on, :D

    Nowadays, I read at my college Library or at dinner in the socialising lounge and I couldn't care less. I love being engrossed and being sucked into my own world and weather people are staring makes no difference, because when reading I feel right at home. I always tell others, don't worry about what others think, if you are not confident in yourself people notice, they feed of it, if you are they notice, and if anything admire it.

    I appreciate you opening up Jess and sharing. I really understand where your coming from, So thanks :)

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  5. Ahhhh! None of my friends get that I read YA, or that I read anything other than my boring uni books. They think its stupid that I have a blog and that it's a waste of time. I'm really proud of my blog and that I love reading so Im not too fussed about who I tell anymore. I do get an odd look from boys though when I tell them!

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  6. As a high school librarian, I hate hearing that you somewhat felt like a misfit because you liked to read. I work really hard to cultivate my "kids that read" and make sure they get to know each other, as well as hoping they don't feel uncomfortable because they like to read. It's hard, but I have my "library geeks" and I love them (and I think they appreciate me.)

    Secondly, I asked my brother-in-law to guess how many books I read last year. He guessed 12. I read 115 books last year. He thought I was nuts -- so it never ends. Even when you are older, like me. Just laugh...

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  7. I totally understand. I stepped away from reading because it was frowned upon in my clique so I fell into pressure and didn't read. I have been told by my brother that I don't read real books. Whatever. Books is printed are books. I always argur with him about this and its always ends up the same. A yelling match. I am too gald that reading has come out more and people accept it. Great post!!

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  8. i actually stopped reading when I was in High School because of the grief I got about it. I now look back at that time very resentfully when I think of all the reading I could have done in those 5 years!

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  9. I went into work one day not long ago and someone said 'I saw you this morning at the bus stop...you were reading' and laughed. Then later I went for my break and someone from a completely different department said 'so what were you reading at the bus stop this morning?; I was like WHAT??? Why is me reading suddenly the gossip of the day?? and felt a bit paranoid all day, like a secret had got out...weird!

    I'd never met someone face to face who loved reading like I do, until I met Linz last month and omg it was fantastic! Thats what I love most about blogging :)

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  10. At my high school there wasn't really an issue with whether you read or not, but that may have been mainly because it wasn't something anyone talked about much. I do find it amusing now that many of the 'popular' girls from my school (of which I most certainly was not one) are now displaying the fact that they read as some sort of badge of honour, whilst it has always just been a way of life for me.
    I recently did a vaguely similar post on my blog and came to the conclusion that I don't much care whether a person thinks the fact that I read is a waste of time, I just think that they should keep their opinion's to themselves.

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  11. I'm so with you! My husband disparages my reading habits because I read fiction. I'm not sure how many people would actually like laying in bed and read non-fiction. As a college student I read non-fiction nonstop.

    Fiction is the one place I can escape and to have that judged non-stop truly bothers me.

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  12. Thanks for writing this post! All of my friends are sort of in awe at the fact that I read so much, and none of them really read the same books as me, which is why I started my blog. And I don't understand why YA is so looked down upon. Clearly these people haven't read much YA or they would have a better understanding that not all YA is about sparkly vampires. It's about growing up, and having firsts, and learning and YA is truly awesome, which is why I love reading YA and the YA community rocks! Nobody should feel ashamed about what genre they read, or whether or not they read at all. :D

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  13. This is so pathetic of me but I FREAKING CRIED after reading this. Thanks for this post! When I was in my history class once my teacher was asking each kid what there hobby was. I being the book nerd I am said reading. One kid scoffed and said really. The teacher then stared at the kid and said "One day she will be your boss and you'll be sorry". gotta love the support!! :D

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  14. Fantastic post, Jess! I actually have a similar post drafted to kick off my discusiion posts for this year as I've been thinking about the topic quite a lot recently as I'm going through the secondary school experiences right now. I'm lucky in that my school, many of the girls actually like reading a good book once in a while but they're not book lovers. I do sometimes read in the school library and although I used to be a bit embarassed, I've grown more confident in my reading now. It's also helped that I've joined my school book club who are a lovely group of girls who people might not expect to like reading!

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  15. Annette- I would have LOVED a librarian like you at my school, ours were always kinda snobby and didn't seem to like kids that much! I would of loved to have been one of your "library geeks" I'm sure it would have made high school a much more enjoyable time for me :-) Keep doing what you do because I'm sure your kids appreciate it!

    Kare- I'm so sorry the post made you cry!

    Everyone- It seems like I wasn't the only one who felt like a misfit in some way because I like to read. I'm glad some of you who are going through high school now have found people who read or/and accept reading. I think it's really important to know people who have the same things in common as you, it makes you feel less alone and less like a weirdo for liking what you do which I think is what had the biggest knock on my confidence- that I felt very different to other girls.

    I'm loving reading all your responses thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment it really means a lot! x

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  16. I'm going to make this one quick - shower's waiting - but, I totally get your point. Some people (or make that most) don't even know what YA is! They often just consider is children's books. To some extent that is right, but there is a distinction! And, in my experience, poeple knowing I read a lot seem to make them think they are now allowed to call me a geek or a nerd. If there's something I do weirdly, they all go, "it's because you read a lot of books!" ridiculous. There's nothing wrong with reading AT ALL - the more the better, even - so you go girl, loving this post!

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  17. At work most of the ladies read, but even so, I still get put down comments and looks because I read YA. And blogging about it? OMG I really am a weird person! I totally don't understand this attitude even though I come across it on a weekly basis. Like Annette, I'm of the older generation. I'm 43 (just in December) and its something I've never mentioned before online/on my blog for fear of feeling like an outcast amongst the younger YA bloggers. I love books. I love camps, werewolves, fae, shifters, I'm 43. There, i've said it. Does that really matter? Mmm, I feel a post coming on.

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  18. @ The Slowest Bookworm I don't think it matters at all. Most people who are in the book blogging community are very accepting whatever age you are. I think there's a group for over 40s bloggers too but I'm not sure who runs it.

    Hey Jess, I've awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award over at my blog- congratulations! To find out morem go directly to the award post here:http://bestfriends-books.blogspot.com/2011/01/stylish-blogger-award-x3.html

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  19. Brilliant post, Jess! These random ramblings are going to be one of my favourite features of the week, I think. When I was at school there was a couple of bunches of people who qualified as 'book nerds' - people who went to the homework room or spent lunchtimes in the library. I didn't spend my time poring over LOTR trying to learn Elvish, as one pair of boys did so memorably, but yes, I was definitely one of them. For a while it bothered me a bit but I really hated the shallow, 'mean girl' type cliques that caused all the trouble, so I soon learned to pity them and ignore them. I like our little motley crew of misfits, I was enjoying my breaks and getting good grades, so why should I listen to them bitching about it?

    Okay, so maybe it wasn't that easy at the time, though it got easier as each year went by and people grew up a bit. But the library was a bit of a safe haven really. I didn't know many people who read very much - still don't - but the librarians were great and my teachers recommended books to me and even lent me their own copies, which was great.

    These days I read what I want, when I want. Everything I want. If anything, I feel more of an outsider in the blogosphere for NOT being a YA blogger - though I get some great recommendations from blogs like yours and Rachel's, and read loads more YA books now than I did this time last year! But would you believe it, running a bookshop, I still get people coming in and giving me funny looks because I'm reading behind the counter, or making stupid comments about it. To a girl who RUNS A BOOKSHOP. People who get a bit of a swagger about them and proudly announce that they've never read a book in their lives before looking sideways at me to see if I'll look up from my PILE of books and give them a medal or something.

    I guess it never really ends - but we get so much better at just shaking our heads, smiling grimly and going back to our favourite pursuit knowing that we're the ones who are holding all the cards and enjoying a pleasure, a delicious, entertaining, educational, exciting pleasure that these people will never really understand.

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