In this morning’s Globe, I read a delightful book piece penned by Natalie Southwick (http://tinyurl.com/3ygh5aq). In it she admitted to being a public book snob and it struck a nerve with me. If you believe the phrase, “you are what you read,” we should all be careful what we’re reading publicly. In my comment to Natalie Southwick I stated that I am particularly judgemental of anyone who’s reading what I assume are cheap paperbacks (yes, I still hate them). Should the “paperbackers” care what I or for that matter what anyone thinks? I think so. We are a society of voyeurs. We may not want to admit it but we do look at others; their habits, likes, and dislikes. We then make judgements based on what we observe. The observed may not know that we are watching at the exact moment that we’re watching but on a subconscious level they know. Aren’t books based on our likes and dislikes? If you’re reading a book about cheap, tawdry sex, shouldn’t we assume the reader’s into cheap, tawdry sex. Shouldn’t those behaviors be kept private? When trekking about, I try to take along books that I find truly engaging but also that others will find uninteresting on first glance. This accomplishes two things: the voyeur assumes I’m very smart and they won’t interrupt me by asking any questions. I’m also insulted when the romance novel readers ask me, “is that a good book?” As if they could spot one! I usually answer with a question that would expose their lack of intelligence like, “you know Tremain?” They usually can’t tell if I’m talking about the title, the author, or the setting. There are also situations that call for reading particular types of books. For instance, there’s a spot in White Marsh, Maryland where the most beautiful men (I’m not kidding) seem to congregate for lunch, business, and drinks. A single woman would need to have one of the following books strategically placed on her table as the men do look:
- She’s Gotta have It
- Moby Dick
- Going Down (actually a very good book)
- The Big Easy
I have two questions: are you a book snob and are you what you read, indeed?