I Won’t Apologize


There’s been a lot of talk around the blogosphere lately about owning your reading choices.  It started with the infamous Slate article (not linking, because the article doesn’t deserve a link) stating that adults who read young adult novels should be ashamed of themselves.  There was plenty of well-deserved backlash (including my #BKR03 quarterly box, which included a tote bag and pin proudly declaring “I Read YA”) and plenty of bloggers declaring that they read YA and were proud of it.  And it extended to a campaign for all readers to proudly own their reading and never be ashamed for liking what they like.  I’m totally on board with that, so here’s my list of reading choices I refuse to apologize for.

I won’t apologize for reading YA.  Since things started with YA, I’ll start with YA.  My world would be much less fun without the likes of Harry Potter and friends, for example.  Not to mention my favorite childhood classics.  For goodness’ sake, my daughter is named after an L.M. Montgomery heroine.

I won’t apologize, in fact, for reading cozy mysteries either.  Or anything else I darn well please.  I like what I like and I don’t care who knows it.

I won’t apologize for buying pretty books.  Yes, even if I already own a copy.  The story is the thing and all that, but books can do double duty as beautiful objects.

I won’t apologize for using the library to test-drive books before committing to buying them.  Yes, I love supporting my favorite authors, but I prefer to know I love the book before granting it some of my limited shelf space.

I won’t apologize for liking the convenience of my e-reader.  It’s real reading, people.  For that matter, so are audiobooks.

I won’t apologize for having no interest in comics or John Green.  Sure, they’re both trendy in the book world, but neither reading option interests me even a little bit.  I have enough on my TBR without worrying that there’s something wrong with me because I don’t care to read The Fault in our Stars (much less abbreviate it to “TFIOS”) or take out a Marvel Unlimited subscription.

I won’t apologize for rarely (or never) reading genres that don’t interest me.  I’m never going to be a sci-fi fan.  I’ve come around to more fantasy novels, but I have no interest in most of the horror genre.  Again, I have enough on my TBR – I don’t need to put myself through a genre that I know I don’t enjoy.

I won’t apologize for crafting with books, or for buying upcycled book page jewelry or art on Etsy.  What’s wrong with giving an otherwise unwanted book new life?  It’s not sacrilege, it’s rescuing a book from the garbage heap and turning it into something useful and beautiful.

I won’t apologize for being a serial book-finisher, except in the most extreme of cases.  This is another thing the internet is into lately: abandoning books that don’t please.  Well, I will ditch a book if by page 50 it’s given me nothing to recommend it.  But in about 98% of cases, I find a reason to push through.  It may not end up on a favorites shelf, but someone slaved over it (probably) and I’m going to give it my time.  I’ve ended up loving a book that I wasn’t wild about for many of its pages.  If you’re one who can abandon a book that’s not meeting expectations – good on ya.  But I generally can’t, and I won’t be made to feel a less discerning reader for it.

I won’t apologize for occasionally begging off a lunch invitation to read by myself.  I have a long TBR and very little time to read in.  I do try to be social, but sometimes I only want to socialize with book characters.  That’s my nature and I won’t apologize for it.

I won’t apologize for liking all my books in a series to be in the same edition.  It’s a weird little tic that has nothing to do with the stories and everything to do with how they look on my shelves, but, well, we’ve already established that I like my shelves to look nice (see above).  My home is my home and I want it to be beautiful, and organized, well-curated bookshelves are part of that.

I won’t apologize for needing time to read every. single. day.  Reading keeps me sane.  I feel as weird if I go a day without reading as I would if I went a day without brushing my teeth (ew!).

Did you read the Slate article?  Were you outraged too?  What readerly traits do you refuse to apologize for or recant?


22 thoughts on “I Won’t Apologize

  1. I haven’t read the article in question, but I have been offended by the high-handed readerly suggestions/comments I have been coming across on the internet of late.

    I am a ‘lesser reader’ compared to these people, because I haven’t read any classics! Yes, I haven’t read any classics – I was just not into much reading as a young adult, and I didn’t study English literature. There’s a huge gap in my reading, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love books or reading. I started serious reading quite late in my life, and I haven’t discovered many genres and writers yet. I don’t apologise for that – that’s the way life was for me.

    I won’t apologise for not liking books that are too gory and dark and depressing. I don’t believe a book has to be dark and ugly in order for it to be classified as good writing.

    I won’t apologise for not being into the Twilight series or John Green or Harry Potter. I tried as much as I could, but I couldn’t get into these books at all. That’s the way I am.

    I won’t apologise for needing a comfort read once in a while. Not all chick-lit is meaningless rubbish, you know? There are books even in the chick-lit genre that are well-written, and I like reading them from time to time.

    I won’t apologise for reading a lot of the contemporary fiction genre. I like understanding the world in which my characters live!

    I won’t apologise for loving foodie and travel books. I don’t mean Bill Bryson or Pico Iyer here, but descriptive travel books like those of Frances Mayes and Marlena de Blasi. I love these books; I just do!

    I won’t apologise for loving pretty books. I have bought books like The Journal of Beatrix Potter, In Tuscany, and The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt just because they were so pretty. Such books deserve to be collected.

    That’s about all I have to rant, I guess. 🙂

    • Don’t bother to read the article – it’s not worth your time! I’m with you; I have also been offended by the way people have been extra-judgmental on the internet lately. It does seem to have gotten worse.

      Love your list! You and I share a lot of the same reading preferences. We both love travel and foodie non-fiction (I know we’re both big fans of Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes!), and I also like contemporary fiction and don’t go for gory/dark/depressing much of the time. (Although I have gotten into Margaret Atwood lately, who can be dark and disturbing.) And although I do read and enjoy classics and Harry Potter, I couldn’t care less if other people don’t.

      Bottom line, what I think your list (and mine) reflects is that reading is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. It’s a hobby. You need to read what you enjoy, because otherwise, you’re just not going to stick with it. And everyone needs to stop telling others what they should enjoy, and what they should read. It’s not productive – just obnoxious. So hurray for not apologizing!

    • Amen! I can’t stand people who claim that reading on an e-reader isn’t real reading. The words are all there, yes? It’s some kind of strange reverse snobbery that I just don’t get.

  2. I haven’t read the article you talked about, but it sounds like a waste of time so I’m not going to Google it. It will probably just make me mad! I really like this post and its message though! You shouldn’t feel like having to apologise for any reading habit, and I enjoyed reading your list. I even feel inspired to make one of these lists myself. I’d link back to your original post of course! Would you mind me writing such a post? If you do, that’s perfectly okay as well!

    • Yep, don’t Google it. But do look up Book Riot’s list of 13 things an adult should actually be embarrassed to read! It’s pretty funny, and while I don’t agree with all of it, #1 – your significant other’s email – gets a solid AMEN from me. #6 is classic, too.

      I’d be honored if you made a list of non-apologies of your own on your blog! You certainly don’t need my permission, but in any event, I’m all for letting your reader flag fly.

  3. Mea culpa. I re-read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn every so often.
    I guess I categorize them as Young Adult, or youth, or whatever — but mostly because I read them both in fifth grade.
    Re-reading Tom Sawyer allows me to re-experience the memories of the time I first read it, and to enjoy the color and the characters portrayed from a previous century. And Huck Finn has social and human nature messages for pretty much every age level capable of reading.
    So, have at me, Slate. I’ve been dissed (lamely) by far better than you.

    • You’ve inspired me to write another piece about YA, because I wouldn’t consider either Tom or Huck to be YA – in my mind, they’re classics. (Not that a book can’t be both; Exhibit A, Anne of Green Gables.) It’s an interesting question about how we even define YA, and certainly a book in even the pure YA category can ask important questions about life and hold plenty of lessons for all of humanity (Exhibit B, Harry Potter). Mark Twain isn’t my favorite author, as you know, but I say, no one should apologize for what you like to read! (And certainly, there’s no grounds for shame in liking Twain.)

  4. Well said! Thank you for not linking to that Slate piece. The whole purpose was to troll people into paying attention to them (probably for SEO purposes).

  5. Love this post. I won’t apologize for reading YA, re-reading inveterately, using the library, buying tons of books, getting rid of books occasionally, loving mysteries, reading the occasional “chick lit” book, and yes, needing to read every. single. day.

    This is why we’re friends. 🙂

    • Yep, we’re on the same wavelength for sure! 🙂 Love and agree with all of yours – especially the “buying tons of books.” I have a feeling I’ll be getting dirty looks from the movers later this month, but I won’t apologize to them either!

  6. There’s way too much judgement and snobbery when it comes to reading. We all have our favorites, our picks, our style & taste, our preferences when it comes to hardcopy vs electronic, the point is we’re all reading and learning and enjoying. I wrote a much longer response to this post at first, really loving what you wrote, but it was soooo long I decided to save it for maybe a rant on my own blog. You got me going!

    • Amen to that, and blog away! I’m not big on worrying what other people think of me or my choices, as you can probably tell from my post. I think we should all stop apologizing and start living!

      • Y’know and I read the stupid article after I finished your post & when it comes down to it, it was less about adults reading YA and more about how that journalist wants us all to know they’re above the genre and everybody who isn’t is so silly. Lame!

  7. I went to read the Slate article after you mentioned it and I also went through some of the comments.

    A good story is a good story, no matter what genre it may be. People should read whatever they want. YA does have depth — Harry Potter & The Hunger Games, for starters.

    For those people who are parents, having read the same book as your teens could lead to some interesting literary discussions. I don’t think the author considered that.

    • Exactly as you say: a good story is a good story. And that’s a great point about parents reading what their kids are reading – I’m sure the author didn’t think of that. As Susan said, the article was more about the author feeling superior to the rest of us plebes who read YA and enjoy it. Even I read with parenthood in mind. Peanut is, of course, too young for YA right now. But when I read in that genre I think about what she might enjoy someday. I’m looking forward to discussing the Mother-Daughter book club, or sharing laughs over Harry Potter or Percy Jackson together in ten years.

    • Of course I don’t mind! Looking forward to reading your take on it. I’m glad that this post seems to have resonated with people. 🙂

  8. Pingback: I Won’t Apologise (or: On Reading Choices) | Books Baking and Blogging

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