My friend Tyler over at My Queer Disabled Life and I were talking about books one gets shamed for reading. For example romance readers get a lot of crap. Women’s Day posted a blog back in 2016, 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Romance Reader, if you want an idea of the unsolicited opinions spewed.
I have never been shamed or made to feel guilty for what I am reading, just for reading. I have a history of attracting literate heretics.
Them: Is that a book?
Me: Yes, it’s about…
Them (cutting me off): I can’t read. It’s too boring.
or the alternative: Reading is weird
I mean, that’s not exactly shaming so much as it is a wrong opinion. Whoever told you opinions can’t be wrong lied. Reading is not weird or boring or a waste of time, or the other dumb things people have said to me. If you don’t like to read, just own it and say “I don’t like to read” instead of being judgmental. Not everyone likes to do the same things and that’s okay.
Now that’s out of the way, there are those genres that even other readers will side-eye you for reading. I don’t understand this. No one has ever done this to me. Maybe because I put off an “if you say anything about my book I will beat you with it” vibe. I also don’t try and hide what I am reading. I totally own it. If someone is going to ask me what I am reading and I tell them “Dave the Barbarian fanfiction” they are just going to have to deal with that. Not my problem if they don’t like it. I’ve probably read something weirder.
Let me put this out there for anyone who needs to hear it. There is nothing wrong with reading fanfiction. In one of my undergrad creative writing classes we spent a couple weeks studying fanfiction as a legit form of writing. I even brought up the internet favourite My Immortal. My professor admitted to reading it. True story. The point is, every writer starts somewhere and for many people it is with fanfiction.
While I’m at it, here is a book of some awesome fanfiction written by someone with a PhD in writing proving my point. People write what they are going to write and other people are going to read it because they can.
Now that the PSA portion of this blog post is over with, it’s time for the question of the day. Do I have anything that I consider guilty pleasure reading? I do. Scottish historical romance with men in kilts. I have been known to reread some of these books 4 and 5 times. Maybe more than that. They are fun light reading. Sometimes you just need that kind of book. Especially after reading some 600+ pages of a book with some deep philosophical message. It gives your brain a chance to reboot.
Never, ever let someone make you feel guilty or shame you for reading something. Read what you enjoy.