How about we stop framing ‘reading books’ as something morally superior? Encourage reading. Do it because it’s exciting, fun and an awesome way to consume stories and knowledge. There is such a classist, elitist, ableist snobbery around books and it’s a shame. [YES, A THREAD!]
There are so many elitist RULES surrounding books. Audiobooks somehow don’t count as books. Kindle is not as good as a REAL BOOK. Books directed at women are not as good as thick books about war and philosophy. ‘She reads’ has the subtext ‘she isn’t as dumb as most women’.
I read Tolstoy last year for the first time. Before that, I had this idea in my head that the only books I would be able to understand with my uneducated working class vagina-brain was Twilight and pamphlets. WELL GUESS WHAT.
Tolstoy is AWESOME. It’s hard to remember all the characters at times but it’s not complicated writing and the stories are just really good. It’s just fucking long and heavy. But I could have read it when I was 16, no problem. I was truly shocked.
WHAT ELSE IS THE ELITE KEEPING FROM US, SO THAT WE DON’T REALISE THAT THEY’RE NOT THAT SMART AND WE’RE NOT THAT DUMB?
Theory: Reading books is seen as morally superior to watching TV or a movie because it requires that you have learned how to read and you have (had) time to read. Something poor people and dyslexic people and neurodiverse people often haven’t.
(Psssst. Guess who is often marginalised by society and pushed into poverty and neuro-diversion? Thaaaat’s right, it’s certainly not white, rich, thin, cis, ablebodied heteros.)
I’m nervous when people see my book case and I apologise profusely for not having read all of them. And I apologise for having read the self-help and Twilight books. Why? Because there is a discourse (especially online) around reading that’s really toxic.
Do you want people to get the enjoyment and excitement and knowledge and experience that you can get from literature? Or do you just want to seem smarter and better than others?
I’m dedicating this thread to my mother, who reacted to my news about Tolstoy being really good with an unapologetic ‘What the fuck is Tolstoy? I only read Stephen King.’