My bookish pet-peeves: Part ONE - Snobbery





Part One: Snobbery

Quite recently, I’ve begun to think more on the subject of bookish snobbery. I’ve decided that’s it’s something I condone with a passion. When people turn their noses up at a particular genre, self-published author, or base their opinion on cover design because they either a) would be too embarrassed to be seen reading it or b) think it’s beneath their ‘intellect’ or c) they think it doesn’t suit their gender. And I think this is where snobbery often springs up – from gender-bias.

  • Male Readers

I find, particularly among male readers, that there is a lot of egotistical views and snobbery. Some men steer away from certain genres such as domestic thrillers, romance/erotica/ historical fiction written by women, or in fact anything written by a woman (on the other hand, perhaps there are some men who are not afraid to be seen or known to read these particular types of books? I’d like to meet them).

Here’s an example – a male acquaintance of mine is writing a fantasy novel, and for a while I was giving bits of feedback which was also fun for me as an aspiring editor. There are a couple of things he’s said that kept coming back to me over and over again. I told him once that I was writing my own book and I told him it was based in ‘real-life’ in comparison to his fantasy genre, and he actually raised his eyebrows and sort of rolled his eyes. This really stumped me, and I found myself feeling ashamed (God knows why – I mean who cares what some random bloke thinks right?), and from thereon I was shy to explain any more of my book. Again, my mistake was not speaking up and standing up for myself. Another thing – he was telling me about watching Big Little Lies (based on the book by Liane Moriarty who is a fantastic author) and how he loved watching it, and I asked him if he’d read the book. His reply: Oh, I wouldn’t read a book like that (complete with a sneer on his white middle-aged face). It’s safe to say I probably won’t be helping him with any more feedback on his WIP.



  • Female Readers

Moving on, some women writers or readers turn their nose up at the terms ‘chick-lit’ or ‘women’s fiction’ and strive to bend away from those kind of books just because they think it would attribute them to being a “typical woman”, and they want to prove to the opposite sex that they are better than the rest of us. If you don’t like a particular genre, fine, but don’t automatically dislike it just because you think it will make you look like more interesting to other people. Read to please yourself – not others.



  • Female Writers

On the other hand, some (well in fact, many) women struggle to make their mark in certain genres such as thrillers (this is changing though), adult fantasy, and general adult fiction. In an interesting article called “THERE’S A WEIRD, SEXIST PROBLEM IN FANTASY THAT WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT” where the author, MYA NUNNALLY, writes: ‘There is a tendency to classify women as young adult or middle grade authors, despite the actual content of their books. I’ve seen it so often and it often causes me great discomfort.’ I would recommend reading the whole article to understand the context better.



The point is, women writers are always linked to a certain corner of the book world, and even in this day and age it is a struggle to be taken seriously. In the past, writers such as Mary Anne Evans (George Elliot) and the Bronte sisters (among others) used male pseudonyms because female writers were looked down upon – yet even in the 21st century, J K Rowling chooses to use the name Robert Galbraith as her pen name for her thrillers. Why? Well, it’s obvious – the times haven’t changed, but it’s about time women are recognised as serious writers in ALL genres. (Just for fun: here’s an article on how J.K Rowling’s pseudonym name was outed)



To finish off, here is something that I saw on Twitter last month. To sum up quickly, author Jodi Picoult’s publishers sent off review copies to the media and early readers without her name or the title on the cover. The response was both fascinating and blood-curdling (see full thread). This just proves how fickle the publishing and book industry still is today. Many female writers don’t get the attention they deserve, just for the crime of being a woman.





  • End of Part 1

And with this, I will close the first part of my bookish pet-peeves series. There is probably a hell of a lot more I could say on this matter, but I’d like to keep it short. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and comments – so please leave a message below (leave your links if you want me to return a comment on your blog) and let’s discuss!

Thanks for reading,

-        -  Lena’s Notebook


This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

30 Comments

  1. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing the Jodi Picoult tweets, I hadn't seen those before and so unfortunate she's been made to feel like that, and that it even happened.

    More conversations on this topic need to happen.

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    1. Defo! I think all books should not have author name on it! :P Would make reading a lot more fun methinks.

      x

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  2. Really liked your post. So I have started being really honest about liking romance novels and I really like it when my guy friends read my blog and say they really enjoyed reading the post . And I even recommend them romance movies and they are always happy after seeing them. We just need more guys like these.

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    1. Awww that's so good you have these friends. Wish I could meet more guys like that.
      x

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  3. Really love this post! You brought up some great points!

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  4. I have no time for book snobbery at all. I read what I think I'll love and I usually love what I read.

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  5. Great post. I know I have a tendency to play down my love of chick lit, but no more! I will not feel embarrassed any more!

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    1. YAS! go you :) Although apparently nobody seems to like the term 'chick lit' - I think rom-com or whatever else is what peeps prefer. >.<

      thanks for the comment
      x

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  6. I have never really thought about snobbery in the book/writing industry. I definitely think people sometimes turn their noses up at certain authors or genres. I like authors like Kiki Archer and Sophie Kinsella. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren | www.bournemouthgirl.com

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    1. thanks Lauren for your thoughts.

      People do it all the time. It gets tiring :(

      Sophie Kinsella is ace!

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  7. Heh, and now I'm in the corner examining my dislike of chicklit (...but I don't think I'm being a snob. I just want more dragons and/or spaceships ;) I'm not a big crime reader either, for much the same reason).

    Your ex-client sounds like a complete jackass tho. Even if he doesn't like reading contemporary fiction, there's no need to be rude when someone tells you that's what they want to write! Ugh.

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    1. Hey you! There's nothing wrong with preferring one genre over another - totally agree. As long as you don't disrespect other genres by making fun of them. If you like dragons and spaceships - that's really cool. When I was younger I loved fantasy. Not so much now as an adult weirdly! But I'm opening my mind to other wider genres. :)

      Yeah - he is haha

      -Lena
      x

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  8. Great post Lena! There's still far too much snobbery when it comes to genre/commercial fiction and you're right, a lot of it is directed at romance/women's fiction etc.
    I've seen quite a few authors complain about their gendered book covers before saying they don't reflect what's inside the book. There's a good article here about it (and another great quote from Jodi Piccoult!) https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/09/coverflip-maureen-johnson-gender-book

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    1. ooooh thanks for your comment - I will check out the article.

      -Lena
      x

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  9. Brilliant post! I can't wait to read more from this series!

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  10. Great post! I completely agree. It drives me insane when I hear an adult say that another adult shouldn't read YA. :(

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  11. Great post, lovely! The Jodi Picoult thread is so interesting! Can't even hide the fact that I love a bit of chick-lit though, makes me so happy, haha! x

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    1. Thanks Hannah :) Yes when I saw it I thought WOW - yeah romcoms and the like are actually really fun to read. It's called escapism for a reason!

      -Lena
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  12. Very interesting post Lena. I have a few friends who have the same prejudice against female subjects and it used to annoy me. But now I don't care anymore. I shared your post with my friends.


    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes

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    1. Go you!!

      Best not to care about other people's negativity on something you enjoy :)
      -Lena

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  13. That Jodi Picoult thing blew my mind. I am a big romance reader, and so I am always being trashed because of the books I read. Needless to say, I am not a fan of book snobbery.

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    1. Hell yea

      Ignore the haters - I encountered a lot of book snobs at uni (professors etc mainly) which at the time I didn't think much of, but looking back it really angers me.

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  14. Hands up I've been a book snob over reading kids books as a teen. Now read them as an adult. And so-called chic lit. But not anymore!!! I read a few of those 'chic lit' books and loved them so I started reading more books I don't usually read and realised I like a lot of different books. I've learnt and am against book snobbery of any kind. Judge a book by content and nothing else. And don't worry what others think

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    1. We all learn eventually :)
      Go you!
      -Lena
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  15. I have recognized this problem in my own reading habits, and have been making it a point to do something about it. (I always buy at least one woman author for every man author.) I am not a fan of either thrillers or romance, but I am able to find lots of alternatives. I wrote about this two years ago: https://tbrstack.blogspot.com/2017/04/reading-more-female-authors.html

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    1. go you! thank you for trying :)
      If you don't like romance or thrillers - that is fine. as long as you don't sneer at others for doing so! (which I doubt you do anyway :) )

      I will defo check out your post :)
      x

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