On (Literary) Snobbery, T-Giving, and Amy Grant

Publish date:

Hello, friends. I hope your Thanksgiving was a generously portioned and lacked any sort of drama involving your sister, her frequent Facebook status updates, and the phrase, "too-cool-for-school loser." I ate enough stuffing for three averaged size adult women and watched fifteen minutes of a movie so inordinately unwatchable, I can't even recall it's name, or the fact that John Cusak and the girl from My Cousin Vinny were in it.

But the nice part of my fallcation was that I got to read. And read I did, to the tune of one and a half books. I read all of Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers, and part of Chuck Klosterman's new novel, Downtown Owl. Take that GRE Verbal!

This is the point where I reveal something about myself. I have a very hard time admitting that I really enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's books. And it is all because they are wildly popular. It is an insecurity of mine that stems from the fact that I think of myself as cooler, better read, and intuitively drawn to obscure books, or at the very least, books that can't be purchased in the airport. Examples will be provided--
1. I refused to read the Da Vinci Code, until five years after the fact, when I stole it and read it in one night before I went to see (and fall asleep in) the movie.
2. I wouldn't read Harry Potter, on the grounds that I was maybe the only person on the planet who didn't know what Quidditch is, and that somehow made me sweet, or at least incredibly uninformed.
3. I make a good amount of Nicholas Sparks jokes, even though his website has a potentially useful FAQ and a Writer's Corner.

But this is stupid, egomaniacal, and unproductive snobbery. A good book is a good book is a good book, no matter how many people have or haven't read it in a junior high school bathroom. It's the same sort of thing with music--I mean, there was a reason why "Baby, Baby" by Amy Grant climbed to #1 in the US and #11 on Switzerland's Billboard charts in 1991: it was a damn good song! Right? It had nothing to do with me being ten and being visually pleased with her aesthetics!

The problem or the issue or just the incredibly astute observation is that it's almost impossible to not do this in some aspect of your life. If you're a Chowhound foodie, you scoff at the idea of lowering yourself to go to Applebees (especially with that new bleach blond "hep" food guy advising you to pick up chicks on the commercial), or if you're a film student, you laugh at the idea of seeing Fred Claus (unless its ironically), even though you like Vince Vaughn in that movie where he gets arrested in Malaysia. But what if you do go and (gasp!) you discover that you actually enjoy the Mini Bacon Cheeseburgers? Or that you think Fred Claus has several moments of unmitigated gloriousness? What then?

I am not a snob, friends. I wear fleece pants 70% of the time. But I still get that incredibly annoying urge to feel superior just because I hear someone talking up Nora Roberts. And I've never even read Nora Roberts! I'm not even 100% sure that is her name! So I've got a new semi-new year resolution: I'm still going to judge, but I'm just going to try and withhold said judgement until I've tried whatever it is I'm judging.

So watch out, Red Lobster! And sharpen your literary knives, James Patterson! I'm coming for you.

Before we take Comments, please stop your conversations, put down your reading materials and watch this safety video.


The Pierces


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.


Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.


Gerald Brandt: Toeing the Line Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Science fiction author Gerald Brandt explains how this new series explores the genre boundary and how he came to find his newest book's focus.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Moment of Doubt

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character experience a moment of doubt.


Caitlin O'Connell: Finding Connection and Community in Animal Rituals

In this post, Dr. Caitlin O'Connell shares what prompted her to write a book about finding connection and community in animal rituals, what surprised her in the writing process, and much more!


New Agent Alert: Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.


Mark Henick: On Memory, Healing, and Languishing Projects

Author Mark Henick shares how he was able to turn a successful TEDx talk into a memoir, even when the project didn't come as quickly as he expected.