Anyone can pick up the first book they see at the gas station and immediately claim to be a reader. Have they read the classics? Probably not. Would they understand half the words, the themes or the complexity even if they had read them? I don’t know, and I’m sure it doesn’t matter.
For as long as humans have had differing levels of intelligence there have been those who claim certain practices for themselves. For some it would be things such as hunting for sport, golf, and watering your flowers while it’s raining. For others these would include inventing things (like microwaves and the like), setting up multiplication tables, and perhaps the oldest of them all; reading. And ever since that first caveman looked at that first squiggle on the wall and the other caveman said ‘’That’s not a real abstract shape,’’ in a haughty tone, there has always been someone telling someone else that what they’re reading isn’t real literature. Now, whether you agree that some books are of better quality than others is a different matter. Quality doesn’t always equate pleasure or in other words, how fun it is to read. This isn’t to say you can’t take pleasure in a book for the sake of the beauty of the author’s writing. It is to say that there’s no use feeling superior for having read something by Dickens if it took you three months to do it because of how boring you found the plot to be.
More often than not, the victims of this scrutiny are contemporary readers, especially young and new adult fantasy readers. Although this scrutiny might have some merit to it (how do they keep coming up with new plots for what is essentially fairy porn?) it’s very much their own business what they decide to read and what not to. Not everyone finds Tolstoy to be the perfect way to unwind after a hard day- except maybe Rory Gilmore. Some people prefer fun, entertaining and exciting plots with an easy to understand vocabulary over something that would grant them bragging rights in front of a group of pretentious second year English students.
In the end, it’s all really just books. No genre is objectively better or worse than the other and all genres have both masterpieces and really, really bad books. Judging other people based on their preferences can be fun, but we should remember that most of the time people don’t read to impress others; they’re just reading what they enjoy and if they enjoy somewhat poorly written books about fantasy creatures having sex, so be it. Who are we to judge?
Here are some book recommendations, because a newspaper piece is nothing without some subjectivity.
Classics you can brag to your English teacher for having read, except they’re not boring:
Jane Eyre by Emily Bronte
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Fun books that you can read while half of your brain is off doing something else:
Folk of Air Trilogy by Holly Black
A Court of Thorns and Roses (just the first one, though) by Sarah J. Maas
Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
Young Adult Fantasy books that are actually good enough to read with both halves of your brain:
The entirety of the Grishaverse books by Leigh Bardugo
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Folk of Air again, because it’s actually very good
Hana Kanter, 11b