On Learning To Not Be A Book Snob

I am a book snob.

But I am trying to not be.

I love books, always have done, since I was a little girl.

And I haven’t always been a book snob: growing up, I wasn’t too fussy about what I read. Enid Blyton books were a firm favourite, and I devoured the Famous Five and Mallory Towers series.

In my teenage years I developed a taste for horror – Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz, as well as the kitsch of Virginia Andrews.

As I grew older, my reading tastes naturally changed. A Level English Literature started to hone those tastes towards ‘proper’ literature. The classics. You know, books that didn’t just entertain, but that made you think, analyse, and pontificate.

I got the idea in my head that while books were to be enjoyed, and I still enjoyed reading, there had to be something else. The book needed to be clever, challenging, make me think, and would teach me something.

While my reading tastes were diverse: I enjoyed Haruki Murakami; Margaret Atwood, Iain Banks, and David Mitchell. Dystopian sci-fi was a particular favourite genre.

For all that diversity, though, there was one genre I made sure never to venture into: chick lit. The thought made me shudder. I dismissed them as vacuous fluff, poorly written.

I had become a bona fide book snob.

What changed?

My brush with death, Hugo’s death, and my struggles with PTSD forced me to change my perspective on many things.

Books had always been a solace for me, a companion I was rarely without. I found I was reading less than I had done: concentration and memory problems are key PTSD symptoms. While I completed books from my usual repertoire, I realised I was reading less than before. I found myself unable to get in to the types of books I would usually reach for, and unable to concentrate.

I missed reading.

One day I in Waterstones I stumbled across a book by Jojo Moyes. On the cover was a photo of Emilia Clarke, and being a huge Game of Thrones fan immediately recognised her as the actress who plays Daenaerys Targaryen in the series. Interest piqued, I took a closer look. The book of course was Me Before You, the cover a tie-in with the film version.

I bought and read the book not really realising what it was about. I found some of the characters a little stereotypical, but was hooked. The very definition of page-turner! Without wanting to reveal any spoilers for people unaware about how the book ends, it made me sob. It was too close to home.

Since then have devoured many of her books. I have needed to read a good story, to lose myself in a plot. She often uses the device of different timelines, which keeps me eagerly reading to discover what happens next following a cliffhanger.

Since discovering Moyes’ books, I have found myself reading in any spare moment. I have a Kindle, which I pop in my bag so I can indulge that need whenever it is possible. It’s good for the brain and for the soul.

And there’s nothing vacuous, fluffy, or poorly written about her books. There are plenty of big words too, ones I’ve had to look up (thank goodness for that function on the Kindle!).

Her books are full of characters that don’t quite fit in, but who remain true to themselves and follow their own paths, which feels resonant for me. And while bad things happen in the plots, just as they do in real life, there is an abundance of kindness and decency, as well as hope – and that’s something we all need, isn’t it?

Through the books I have learned things I didn’t know. Ship of Brides is a key example: I knew British brides went to the US to be with their GI husbands, but I didn’t know Australian brides came all the way from Down Under to be with their British forces husbands. That knowledge kept this history geek content for a little while, looking up more information online.

In short, Moyes’ writing style is one I have come to love.

Any book from any genre can be poorly written, vacuous fluff of course. You live and you learn. You develop, and you grow.

And, yes, you learn to not judge books by their covers!

It’s what you enjoy that matters, and a little self-care break away from reality.

If you’ll excuse me, I have a book to get back to. Foreign Fruits has just jumped timelines and I need to know what happens to Lottie…

 

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