I’ve been a part of the bookish blogosphere for over five years and, for the most part, I love it. I’ve found it to be a positive community, one in which people from all walks of life are connected through their shared passion for books. Regardless of how much I’ve interacted with a blogger, if I comment on one of their posts, I’m almost always guaranteed to get a friendly response. Additionally, being a part of this community has seen me broaden my readerly horizons; I’ve gone from reading literally nothing but romance to reading a multitude of different genres, from fantasy to sci-fi, from historical non-fiction to true crime.
However, no community is perfect and a comment on another blogger’s post reminded me of this a few days ago. To be blunt, no matter how great a community is, it’s always going to play host to a few assholes. I’m grateful that I’ve had very few personal encounters with these people, who I’m going to refer to as bibliophile bullies in this post. A few years ago, back in my blog’s infancy, a guy used to leave sarcastic comments on my posts, trying (and failing, thankfully) to make me feel as small and stupid as he possibly could. I was literally just posting romance reviews or talking about the latest books that I’d bought. I once posted about reading a book in a coffee shop before work and he commented that I was only doing it to appear ‘trendy’ because that, according to him, is what coffee shop reading is. Imagine having such a boring, empty life that you spend your free time trying to belittle strangers on the internet. My experience with that particular bibliophile bully was quite mild compared to what other readers have been subjected to, though.
I’m going to discuss a number of troubling things that I’ve read online during my time as a book blogger, be it on WordPress, in Facebook book groups or on Instagram. These things were written by people who genuinely think themselves to be above others because of what they read or how they read. I have three words to say to these people: Get a grip. Who cares what format a person enjoyed a book in? Who cares how long it took them to get through it? The only thing that matters is whether or not it was a good book. If you genuinely deem yourself superior to someone because they choose to listen to audiobooks instead of reading paperbacks, you seriously need to revaluate your life. Speaking of audiobooks…
Audiobooks not being your thing is okay. What’s not okay is berating others for listening to them and branding them lazy. Whether you like it or not, audiobooks are a legitimate way of consuming literature and there are so many reasons why a person might choose to listen one. First and foremost, they might listen to an audiobook just because they want to. Audiobooks are a great way of getting your book fix on days when you’re busy doing chores or when you’re travelling in your car and need to, y’know, look at the road and not at a book. Secondly, they allow people with visual impairments to enjoy books just as much as anyone else. Thirdly, audiobooks are ideal for people with reading disabilities such as dyslexia. Audiobooks make literature accessible to everyone, so get off your ableist high horse and mind your own business.
This is in direct response to the above meme, which I found while trawling through Pinterest one day. The amount of books that you read doesn’t make you more or less of a reader. Someone actually went out of their way to make this meme because they genuinely think that someone who reads a 150 page book over the course of a month is ‘dumb’. There are countless reasons why a person might read one book a month. I tend to read about four books a month, while others can get through four or more books in a week. For me, the issue is time. I work ten hour shifts and I also work full time. I read when I can, be it on my lunch break or in the evening, but I can’t simply neglect things like housework and spending time on my other hobbies and interests just to hit some numerical target. Other readers have young children and giving themselves a set number of books to get through in a week or month just isn’t feasible. As I mentioned when talking about audiobooks, some bookworms have reading disabilities and reading one book a month is massive achievement. This is an achievement that should be celebrated, not ridiculed. It would be nice to live in this meme maker’s world, a world in which nothing inhibits a person’s ability to read, but such a world doesn’t exist for a majority of people. The only thing that matters is how much a person enjoys the books that they read, not how many they read.
Coming onto this third point, it’s suddenly dawned on me that the people I’m referring to have, to varying degrees, superiority complexes. Despite reading a wide variety of genres nowadays, I still love romance, particularly paranormal romance. Some people, such as my boyfriend, poke harmless fun at this. I mean, it can be a hilarious genre at times. However, some people with apparently little else to do with their time have displayed genuine contempt for people who read this genre or any other genre that they themselves don’t read. As with the amount of books that you read, the types of books that you read don’t make you any more or less of a reader. People don’t have to read a certain genre to be a ‘proper’ bibliophile; they just need to read books that they enjoy. Stop looking down your nose at people who enjoy reading romance novels and horror paperbacks instead of your preferred classics. No one’s impressed by the fact that you’ve read every single book by the Brontë sisters. If you read and enjoyed them, that’s great, but also respect the fact that the books that you like aren’t for everyone. You enjoyed Wuthering Heights, but the person you’re sneering at for reading romance enjoyed their book as well. Your taste in books might be vastly different, but you both enjoyed your respective reads and that’s a good thing. The type of book that a person reads isn’t important. What’s important is that they enjoy it and it offers them some escapism, be it onto Emily Brontë’s cold and dreary Yorkshire Moors or the labyrinthine hallways of a haunted house .
Have you ever encountered a bibliophile bully? Let me know in the comments!