So this is a #booktok conversation that I’m once again bringing over to the blog (several months after it was my entire ‘for you’ page, so, a little off the mark but oh well). I didn’t join in with making a video at the time because people were kind of jumping on the creator who first made a comment about people who don’t read classics etc, but I thought it’d be an appropriate topic for a little rant because we’re not about to gate-keep reading habits that are considered good to only the ‘elite’ few who read classics on the regular and this is topic that has irked me since my English and Creative Writing university days.

All reading is reading. All reading is good.

That’s it. that pretty much sums up my thoughts on this topic. Who gives a fuck? Read whatever the fuck you like. Read your smut, read your trash, read your classics, read your fantasy, read whatever the hell you want, in whatever format you want. 

Read it on an e-reader, read paperbacks, read hardbacks, read your fancy smancy special editions, read your manga, your graphic novels, consume literature as audio books and so on and so on.

It all counts. It’s all good for the brain. It’s all media that isn’t mindless doom scrolling on socials (don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning doom scrolling, I’m just sayin’ make time for both in your life).

You’re not superior, you’re just a dick.

I have had *heated* discussions with my former uni professors about my preferred genre in particular, which is fantasy. About whether it counted as ‘quality’ literature, whether it was literature ‘for the masses’, whether it explores difficult topics with same depth as some of our ‘greatest’ writers in history. First of all, fucking hell, I just want to enjoy my life, so maybe it doesn’t need to be soul deep, groundbreaking literature for it to gather a little bit of me that needed to read that story and make it happy, even if it’s some trashy shifter-romance story with as much depth as a shot glass. Secondly, a book can still explore the issues of society, of the human existence without it being about an upper class, aristocratic, white person with too much time on their fucking hands.

I find this idea that, having read the majority of Austen and Bronte’s books, it means I am some how elevated above everyone else, actually ridiculous. Yes, I agree that there are some pivotal books in history that I think it’s helpful to learn about. I think that reading books, like The Colour Purple, do make it easier to have a level of empathy and depth towards a world you might not know very much about, which is hard to replicate in other formats. It’s books like that I can understand being touted as ‘must reads’ but the majority of classic literature doesn’t give you profound insight like that. It might explore other themes and ideas but there’s maybe a handful of the books on those lists that I would say could benefit a modern reader and they are, for most people, simply not that accessible or enjoyable to read. 

I’m a big reader, I went to uni to study literature but I read a lot more now, with a much wider range of genres, authors, topics etc, than I did when I was stuck on this idea of books I ‘should’ read. Not only that but the public shaming I received, more than once, for the type of books I liked to read, meant that when I left uni it took me a really long time to get that joy in it back, of reading for pleasure. 

So I will loudly yell over and over that we should leave people alone. Read whatever the fuck you want. Read whatever ‘quality’ of literature you want. Stop demonising genres, or looking down on highly successful authors who write in those genres.

Books are meant to be enjoyed. They are meant to be something we do for fun. It is a precious thing that any time you read, you’re seeing and experiencing a version of the story in your imagination that is just your own, which is hard to find in any other form of media. It’s art. It is meant to be enjoyed and it doesn’t matter how people choose to enjoy it.

That’s it. Rant over. Go about your days!