April 8, 2014

Why I Read What I Read OR How I Became a Book Snob



This post is inspired by Brian, who was inspired by Stefanie, who was inspired by Tim ...whew.


All book lovers have reasons for reading. Beyond that we all have reasons for reading what we do. We're all complex but I think I can at least nail down why I have all the love for literary fiction:

Books were always around when I was little. I grew up surrounded by piles of Little Golden Books and other small kid tales. Once I reached a certain age my mom handed down her boxes of Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mysteries.  I read each of those series. Multiple times.

Then I got a little older and the long drought began. I was too old for Little Golden and Nancy Drew. I NEEDED more.

I grew up in a very small town without a public library. For a long while the only books I had access to were the collection of Jackie Collins that my mom had (I read them all, secretly) or the stacks of bodice rippers at Grandma's house. (Grandma once caught me reading one of those and gently suggested that I read something more appropriate.)

Enter the hero of this tale, my maternal grandfather and the BookMobile! (I'm sure I've talked about this before.) A quick recap: Grandpa saved the day and took me to the BookMobile. He would check out a whole box of books. I didn't realize you could do that!

Finally! After years of reading only cereal boxes or books with Fabio on the cover I had access to real books! No longer would I be reading scraps left by other people. No longer would I have to be content with reading the rubbish that was commonly lying about. Now I could become a SERIOUS READER of SERIOUS THINGS. And that, I think, is where my love of  literary fiction began.

"Fetch me a book...of quality!"

Maybe I'll explore my adoration of nonfiction on another day. That's a whole 'nother topic.

Why do you read what you read?

58 comments:

  1. I'm a book snob too, but only certain times. I let myself have a guilty pleasure book. haha.

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    1. There's certainly nothing wrong with that! :D

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  2. I went through a little bit of a gap between my Baby-Sitters Club days and high school assigned reading where I wasn't really sure what to read...not necessarily because I didn't have access to it, but because I didn't really have a guide. I ended up reading what people around me were picking up (Oprah's Book Club, horror novels my dad read that were way over my head), but I think it's part of what made me a fairly eclectic reader.

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    1. I completely understand. I didn't have a guide either! (My kids are sooooo lucky to have me, ha ha!) I think scrounging made me fairly eclectic too ;)

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  3. First, thank you for the link and especially for the credits to Stefanie and Tim. Second, I also grew up in a very small town too, but we had a library. However, it was very small and we also had visits from the bookmobile.

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    1. You're very welcome!

      For a while I had access to our very small school library. It wasn't great, but it was something!

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  4. Oh my gosh, that book cover. Ugh! But hooray for checking out a whole box of books!

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  5. I never thought I was a book snob, until someone from work told me I was. She loves Baldacci and I pretty much consider those to be fluff reads. She got offended to say the least, and I realized - yikes! I'm a book snob. Oh well, its the English major in me. Plus, I love to read books with substance - they tend to stay with me longer than the chick lit/ crime thrillers I indulge in when I'm in a book rut. I do read a variety of genres, but its the literary contemporary fiction that I LOVE - those are the types of books that are beyond well written (they are the books that shake me awake to the awesomeness of writing and reading). By the by, I loved those Golden Books as well :) I grew up in a small town as well and my parents weren't big on reading themselves, but they loved that I loved to read - so, when I heard about books on TV that you can order (I think they were Disney or something), I ordered them without asking my parents. They got the box and the bill and were happy to indulge my vice. Ever since then, I've been a bookworm and loved it!! Great post, Jennifer!!

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    1. Yikes, your'e a book snob! :D Welcome to the club of awesomeness, lol. I read quite a few genres too...but only the GOOD ones in each genre! LOL, I get snobbier with every sentence don't I?

      I love that you ordered those books without permission! Not only are you a book snob you are a book rebel!

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  6. Love this post :)
    I became a book snob when my older sister went to uni to study English Literature and I simultaneously developed an awful teenage love for George Orwell :/

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    1. You were so lucky to have that older sister! I bet she told you what to read? (Older sisters can be bossy!)

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  7. Great post Jen! I fell in love with Laura Ingalls and then Nancy Drew. Growing up, we lived 4 blocks from the public library. I always say the best thing my parents did for me was put braces on my teeth and get me a library card. I literally spent my summers in the library. It was the one thing my very strict mother did not put limits on so it felt like absolute freedom! I could go whenever and check out AS MANY books as I wanted! Nothing made me happier. I love where you mention your "box of books" because I know exactly how you must have felt. In my younger days, I read in secret a few of those Fabio covered books as well as Danielle Steele too until I realized they were all the same and sought something with more substance. I recently joined The Classics Club and am going to finally read the stacks of classics I've bought over the years but have never read.

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    1. I am so jealous of your childhood that I want to reach back and place myself in it! LOL, seriously that is so great!

      Way to go on joining the Classics Club. I really need to get moving on reading the books on my own CC list. Thanks for the reminder ;)

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  8. I'm totally and unabashedly a book snob. ...sometimes I get secretly judgmental. :)

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    1. You aren't the only one, April! I'm just such a snooty little thing ;)

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  9. I think I jumped straight from Jacqueline Wilson into literary fiction - no middle, growing up stage for me. I'm definitely a book snob (I blame the degree) and I kinda like it that way. The BookMobile sounds truly awesome! Great post :)

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    1. I'm so glad to hear about all of you book snobs out there. I'm not alone and I'm SO glad! :D

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  10. I love learning why people love what they love! thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for the thanks ;) This was a fun one to put together!

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  11. Blast!! So now I need to add "no bookmobiles" to my list of what's wrong with Suburbia. :) Such a fun post and I love that your grandma caught you reading bodice rippers. I remember taking one of my mom's books off the shelf when I was in high school and being shocked by the content inside the covers. When my mom found out I was reading it I could tell she was mortified. Good thing I don't have a copy of 50 Shades in my house to have the same worries with my kids! LOL.

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    1. I wish I could drive a bookmobile now! What a blast that would be :D

      Ha ha, I remember the same thing. I was completely scandalized by what was in those books. Wowza!!

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  12. Interesting post, I often read peoples blogs and never know much about their reading lives so good to read about another book snob's journey. I think everyone should do more posts like this.

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    1. Thanks! I think everyone should do posts like this too :D

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  13. Awww, Jen, I loved reading about your bookish journey! Growing up, I mostly borrowed books from my mom's shelves, and she'd buy pretty much anything with an Oprah sticker on it. I think that's why I get a little grouchy when people hate on Oprah picks- if it hadn't been for those I might have been swimming in a sea of bodice rippers too! :)

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    1. I don't truck with Oprah haters either. She got millions of people reading, and most of the books she picked were GOOD. (Barring the whole James Frey fiasco) So there!

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  14. We had a local mobile library when I was younger... Oh how I loved my weekly visits to that thing.

    I like to think I read a good variety of books... But I think like all of us, we have those genres and comfort reads we return to time and time again.

    :-)
    Bits & Bobs

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    1. Hooray for bookmobiles! They were life changers for a lot of us :D

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  15. Great post. I consider myself a book snob and I come by it honestly. My mom is an even bigger book snob than me! In fact she considers some of my choices in reading questionable at best. Great post BTW.

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    1. I'd love to meet your mom! :D She sounds like my type of lady!

      Thanks so much

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  16. It was the Classic Illustrated Comic Books that started me on the way to snobdom. By 6th grade I was picking up Jane Eyre and Lord Jim trying to read them. Took a few readings! Luckily my schools had good libraries.

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    1. I never read those but I bet they were super! What a great intro to the classics :D

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  17. I would have been a very, very different person had I not had easy access to lots of books. My childhood would have been miserable. Three cheers for Grandpa!

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    1. I wonder what would have become of me if I had had more access to books? As you can imagine I have zillions (or so) of books around the house. You'd think my 3 kids would be grand readers. NOPE! They read but they don't READ...I'm sure you know what I mean :D

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  18. This was such a fun post, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing this history with us. It's always fascinating to me the way people come to be the readers they are now. For most of us it's a twisty journey.

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    1. Thanks! It was fun to meander down memory lane :D

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  19. Thanks for sharing. As others have said, I enjoyed reading your journey.

    I never moved beyond my Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew/Trixie Belden phase. Yes, I read books aimed at adults, but I read mainly cozy mysteries, the adult equivalent of those books. I'll you book snobs are now rolling your eyes at me, right? :) But I enjoy them and have no interest in the books you read.

    Oh, and I've also rediscovered my love of middle grade books, too, and read some of those as well.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Mark :D

      No eye rolling here, lol. As long as a person is reading I think it's great!

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  20. My mom tells me I was born a book snob. That I'd rather be inside reading than out playing on a summer day. And the BookMobile! Yes! I sure miss the BookMobile.

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    1. Ha! My mom and sister used to make fun of me for the very same reason! :) They would be laying in the sun and I'd be in the nice cool house reading away.

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  21. I've never seen a bookmobile! So cool! I was pretty much born a reader. Neither of my parents grew up a reader - my mom says there was not a single book in her house ever. I had some of the typical little kid books and my mom got us to the library pretty regularly. My sister reads here and there, but my brother doesn't, so I can only say it's just who I am.

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    1. They were the best for us folks that lived in the sticks :D

      Your poor mom! I can't even imagine.

      Hooray for readers!

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    1. Thank you :D I had fun writing this one

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  23. Great post! I loved reading it.

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    1. Thanks so much :D I loved writing it!

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  24. Love this! Yay for Grandpa!

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  25. This post is great! Also, my grandpa introduced me to the Book Mobile! Apparently, I found out recently that there was this whole joke about how my grandfather was maybe having an affair with the Book Mobile lady. It was a joke - there's no real affair, it's just that he spent so much time on that Book Mobile! :D

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    1. Hooray for grandpas and hooray for book mobiles!

      LOL, that's hilarious! Great joke :D

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  26. Love the end! My mum got me reading and I don't think she ever checked what I took out from the library, which helped, I'd say. I didn't check out anything inappropriate for my age, but that unspoken trust did help.

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    1. Hooray for your mum! That trust is important :D

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  27. How funny that your grandma was reading bodice rippers! My parents surrounded us with quality reads - the classics, good mysteries. I'm not sure my mother has ever even touched a book with Fabio on the cover. I guess I should thank them again for raising me right!

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    1. She still does, lol. She has stacks of those awful things. Well, I guess a gal needs to get her romance where she can, ha ha!

      You were a lucky lass :D

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  28. My grandma had an entire basement bookcase filled with bodice rippers. I didn't read them too much because my younger sister was always around and by the time I was a teenager, they had moved and the books were right next to her favorite chair. I'm not THAT interested in getting caught lol.

    I like literary fiction because I love the serious topics, but I also like to dissolve into a fantasy world because, well, my world often sucks. So I like to go to a place I've never been before and do things I cannot do. Whether it is in a fantasy world or a historical environment. I guess I like a variety.

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    1. What is with these sexy grannies? :) Lol, too funny!

      I enjoy variety as well. I love learning from books. I need to do a post about why I adore nonfiction!

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  29. A town without a public library? I can’t even imagine! I read because my parents read, and I have also snuck in my fair share of Jackie Collins books (I may or may not have a signed copy). My grandmother was a big reader and could totally tune out the world, which explains why I don’t respond to people when I’m reading (I truly don’t hear them). Of my four sisters, I read the most but we are all readers of varying degrees.

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    1. It sounds like a nightmare doesn't it?? The population was just a bit over 500 people. It's a tiny place. I'm like you and your Grandma. I don't even hear you fools trying to talk to me, lol.

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