Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Salon: Aug 15, 2010

The Sunday

This time last week I was writing my Sunday Salon post from the balcony of my hotel room in Mexico - I took a 5 day mini break vacation and it was wonderful (if a bit short).  Even though I returned Monday night and therefore only had a 4 day work week, the week seemed long!  Fortunately, I had very little planned this weekend so I have been able to take it easy, read and catch up on blogs.

 Have you noticed that people love to label literature?  I do my fair share of labeling - I think it is human nature to try to group things.  It makes it easier to take information on board when it is categorized.  Things can go awry, however, when judgments get applied to the labels and categories. Or when books don't fit easily into a particular category and get labeled or judged based on arbitrary attributes such as cover art.  Diane Meier, author of The Season of Second Chances (read my review here) wrote an excellent piece on this topic in the Huffington Post (check it out here).  An excerpt:

My early reviews were gratifying and the consumer reviews from the Amazon Vine (pre-publication) readers were all five star.

Except one: "My Chick Lit Loving Wife Hated This Book," read the headline.

Okay, I wanted to respond, I'm sorry that you're disappointed, but it's like trying to blame a hot dog for not being ice cream.

What I didn't see was that the chick-lit argument had landed squarely on my doorstep.

Was "The Season of Second Chances" Chick Lit or not? That, in itself, became the general theme of most reviews, professional and consumer.

"Five stars because it is NOT Chick Lit."

"Zero stars because it is NOT Chick Lit."
What? Who asked for this as a mark of critical analysis?

It is a great piece and addresses this topic much better than I can so please read it

What are your thoughts on judging what others read?  A post on Dead White Guys Blog examines that topic as it discusses Book Snobs.  Are you a Book Snob?  I have to admit, I do catch myself judging what others read but I remind myself that I read very eclectically and no single book that I read captures my entire taste in books and I shouldn't assume that it does for others either.  And even if it does, who I am to judge what others read? 

Hope you are all having a great Sunday!


  1. I don't judge what others read. I used to make fun of my husband, he loves hardcore sci-fi and I don't. Then I realized there are enough books to go around, different books for different folks, etc.

    While I may not like the "genre" that others read it's always nice to broaden our horizons. I have read books that I would not have picked up cause they were labeled a certain way only to love them.

    People should read what they love but take a step out of their "safe zone" every now and again, they may be pleasantly surprised.

    Wanna Check Me Out?

  2. I try not to judge but sometimes it is really hard! :) BTW - I am totally jealous of your Mexico trip!

  3. Meier's publicist sent an email with the link to the Huff. Post article. I have to agree with Meier and after reading her thoughts I've decided to simply label as fiction or nonfiction and let people make their own decisions from there.
    Mexico (or anywhere exotic) sounds wonderful. How nice :) Have a great week!

  4. I have many many labels in my goodreads profile. I like them, but also remember they aren't mutually exclusive.

  5. I try not to judge what others read, and I think I mostly succeed. Mostly. I will kind of roll my eyes at one of my co-workers who seems to think that the key to understanding all aspects of human behavior lies in some arcane system. He cycles through them. Handwriting, Meyers-Briggs, some bird quiz-thing.... Yeah, it's hard for me not to judge those.

    I'm glad you had a good time! Mexico sounds heavenly! My vacation isn't rolling around until October, and I can't wait!

  6. Interesting post!

    I don't like the label "chick lit" and much prefer "women's fiction." I'd sooner have people judge me by the books I read than by my appearance or how successful I am. To me it's not so much the books people read (tastes vary and I'm eclectic too) but what the reader can say about them. You always have intelligent things to say about the books you read.

  7. I heard Diane Meier speak on a wonderful panel (moderated by Lizzie Skurnick) at the Empire State Book Festival, and she shared the same tidbits. It was a fascinating panel on nomenclature. I think I'm becoming more of a book snob. I don't judge people for what they read, but in holding myself to higher standards (a judgy word, indeed), I do look down on books. I'm in a phase where I want to be challenged by books. I may not stay in this phase forever, but for right now, it's perfection. After getting into blogging, I started reading the books everyone else was and I rediscovered kids and young adult fiction. After taking a step back, I realized I wanted to read the prize winners (and finalists and longlists), and I'm really enjoying being part of that (smaller) conversation. Yes, I'm a book snob, but I'm also a champion of reading what makes you happy!

  8. I try very hard not to be a book snob ... yet I feel defensive when I read a YA or chick lit book!!