Feeling Bookish

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I love talking about books and I also hate talking about books. I love to read, am often reading, and so books and reading become a natural topic for me to talk and write about. Far from wanting to hide my nerdy tendencies, I don't mind sharing them and enjoy finding like-minded individuals. So, I haunt libraries, devour novels, and scribble notes--and yet every time I am asked to talk about what I'm reading I feel a twinge of unease. Maybe it's because reading has always been a solitary activity for me. Growing up I would spend many hours locked in my room reading quietly and rarely had a friend to discuss or trade novels with. Aside from school essays and reports, it has not been natural or normal for me to talk easily about what I'm reading or share books. More and more I'm realizing though that I also feel protective of my favorite novels and authors. When someone criticizes a book I enjoy I take it far more personally than if they had criticized me. In fact, being online there is a certain amount of understanding that what you say or do is open for feedback (positive and negative). I've taken a fair share of criticism over the years ranging from attacks on my figure to those on my character or choice in fashion, etc. Some words definitely hurt, but I weathered things well enough and honestly with time even the most hurtful comments have faded from my memory. Yet, I can still recall the specific words a teacher used to lambast one of my favorite authors. Recently when I shared a book I was reading and receive a couple of comments from people who hadn't enjoyed said book. It dimmed my enjoyment of the book and made me look for flaws I had missed when initially reading it. I'm not trying to argue that these feelings are valid or reasonable, but rather just coming to terms with the fact that they are. It might not be logical, but I feel protective towards my favorite authors as if they were dear friends who might be injured by a caustic word (even if most of them are in fact deceased). Criticism towards a book I'm enjoying feels like an attack, as if by saying I enjoyed that book that was obviously terrible I have shown poor personal judgement. I remember checking out a thick stack of fantasy novels at a library once and the librarian very sweetly saying, "you know people look down on fantasy novels and they really shouldn't. These books are wonderful." As a ridiculously shy teenager my only response was to nod vigorously and turn red to my toes. But I still remember it because, one: I loved that librarian, and two: it reminded me that yes, people do look down on certain types of novels. The genre seems irrelevant; some with mock young adult fiction, defenders of YA lit will mock romance novel, and so on and so on. Sometimes it feels like nerd v nerd as we each strive to feel a little better about our own bookish habits by critiquing someone else's. However, I stray from my original point which is: I struggle with book opinions. I have on rare occasions been pressed into sharing my favorites and am working on opening up about some of the books I'm currently reading, but it's still a topic that makes me uncomfortable. I've developed a fairly thick skin over the years about other details of myself and interests, so I suppose I will just have to work on cultivating a thicker skin in this arena as well. But I hope as well that people can recognize and empathize with a bookworm's joy at discussing books hand-in-hand with their shyness at discussing books. I think for many of us it has long been a solitary activity and perhaps even a source of teasing over the years, so it is understandable as we find our feet in more bookish communities we still feel a reluctance to be (ho hum) an open book. library (43 of 48) library (46 of 48) library (18 of 48)-side library (5 of 48) library (16 of 48) library (28 of 48) library (24 of 48) library (36 of 48)-side library (48 of 48) library (34 of 48) library (1 of 48) library (22 of 48) library (15 of 48)
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CONVERSATION

8 comments:

  1. I, too, used to feel hurt (and annoyed!) when my book choices were criticized--or worse, smirked at. So much so that years ago, I actually did not put out my favorite YA books on my bookshelves because I didn't want to invite that criticism or teasing. I am a huge Lucy Maud Montgomery fan, own every single one of her novels & short story collections, and have read them countless times over the years. Same with the Maud Hart Lovelace "Betsy-Tacy" series. They stayed in boxes all throughout my 20's and 30's. But when I reached my 40's, I realized I was done hiding them and now they have a prominent place on my bookshelves. And this is what I say, with a smile, to people if they ask or seem critical/teasing about them: "These books helped shape my personality and make me who I am today, and they continue to do so. If you like me and are friends with me, then you should realize that these books are part of my DNA. I would be a lesser me without them! I'm sure you have books you feel the same way about that helped shape you." So go forth, Rebecca! If nothing else, I would encourage you to talk books here on your blog. You're among friends.

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    1. OH, Betsy-Tacy!!!!! We love those books. I missed them as a child but discovered them through our kids as an adult. We live only 50 miles from Mankato, MN, where she grew up. Touring their houses is a joy.

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  2. Oh boy, do I feel your pain! The beginning actually made me laugh, because I also always used to hide what I was reading. As a kid I would close my door and quickly hide the book underneath the desk everytime my parents walked in! And if anyone asked what I was reading, I'd always refuse to tell, as if revealing it to others would spoil the reading enjoyment. Though I must admit my family sometimes teased me about the books I was reading and saying that this book is not "approproate" for my age, that this one is too serious etc. No wonder I always acted protective towards my books! ;) Also, regarding the part about hearing someone criticize your favorite author: believe me,I'm the most intolerant person on Earth when it comes to that! I remember when I was in high school, I got mad at my best friend because she said she didn't like Sherlock Holmes. I, as a dedicated fan of the series, felt the obligation to ignore her [my friend] in the few following days, without an explanation...
    Same goes for movies, even though I think I'm more sensitive when it comes to books. But I agree with you, I think reading is a solitary activity and that's the way it should stay! It gives us who are too shy to socialize (hehe!) something to do, and it's a wonderful way to spend your time AND expand your mind. There are obviously many more benefits I could list, but don't get me started... (:

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  3. Can't say I don't feel a little "guilty" reading this, for recently you mentioned reading and very much enjoying a certain series I've also read and happened to dislike. Thing is, not deterring from the author's writing skills - she does write good, or else I wouldn't even finish the first book, let alone read the other two - we all perceive the books we read under the person we are, the experiences we've had, the life we've lead. I know what I did not like in those books - mainly, the characters, especially the two protagonists - and know what I liked. My disappointment with the entire series did not stem from genre, as it is the very same genre I write; nor did it come from envy or jealousy that my books don't do as well as hers did. In hindsight, the thing that really did it for me and made me dislike the books even more is exactly what you're talking about here: she picked one of my literary heroes (Kit Marlowe) and turned him into a horrid person, with no talent, with nothing good about him, when in fact this was a man so ahead of his time, and so troubled and haunted by his personal misgivings (being gayn in that day and age was ebven worse than it is today, having a deep interest in the occult and science could get you accused of witchcraft, and yet, he pursued it all.). That was what destroyed the books for me, that someone chose to view a man who for me has so much to be admire for, into a petty, vindictive little sod. So I understand your lack of "thick skin" when it comes to discuss authors and books you love, as I feel precisely the same way. Sorry if my comment -and surprise that you liked the books - was one of those that tainted your reading experience!

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  4. I know exactly what you mean! My second most watched video on my book youtube channel (that I no longer update) is full of hateful comments about a book series I love. At first I was shocked by their vehemence, but now it's amusing because it's so silly. The comments used to come through on weekends but they've dwindled recently. I do think my book reviews have suffered because of it, because I'm choosier about what I say.

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  5. Yes, I feel your pain too. If someone trashes C. S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia, I don't know them any more, lol.

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  6. I feel this on such a deep level! I've always loved books, and reading, but after doing book-related posts on my blog I felt much more shy to share the books I loved because I knew people would almost always have something critical to say of that book. But, the only way I discover new books to read is through the people I follow who suggest them! So it's always a toss up of... do I write about this book regardless of the critique it might get, or do I keep it for me to love?

    Also side note, it makes me happy to see you photographing in the same place sometimes. It's nice to know we don't always have to have a NEW location every post. <3

    xo
    Kristina
    eyreeffect.com

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