The last discussion post I made was in November, and the fact that I completely stopped posting discussions makes me cringe because a) I love reading discussions and b) I love writing them. But! I haven’t had the motivation (re:topic) to make a proper discussion on, but finally today I decided to take matters into my hand (re:craft up some shitty excuse for a ‘discussion post’). However, the idea is here, and I just really want to post something, anything, so bear with me =D
So I’ve been hearing and watching this general notion go around about how – not having read so-and-so popular books is apparently ‘shameful’ or ‘wrong’. I’ve seen bloggers and booktubers and other bookish people constantly say things like ‘I’m sorry I’ve not read this book/series yet’ or ‘I know it sucks that I haven’t yet read this book’ or something like ‘I know right. What have I been doing all my life? I’ve not read this book!’
And personally, I think such distorted modes of thought are so harmful. Let’s get into the reason why people apologize for not having read a particular book/series. The main reason for this is always : popularity. When a book tends to get popular, there is this sudden hurry to go with the flow and pick up the book series just because everyone else is reading it. However, your taste might not be the same as everyone else’s and thus you might hesitate, or even be least interested in picking up the book. Which is FINE! Which is totally, absolutely fine.
You might, due to lack of interest, never end up picking up the book and that might just induce you to feel guilty about not having read something popular and ‘in’ – due to which a lot of people think they need to ‘apologize’ or ‘feel ashamed’ for not having read the book. Which is so dehumanizing and cruel. And NO. The person who feels like this isn’t cruel. Not at all. We as a community, who let people feel this way are cruel. Just the fact that we have led this atmosphere develop – where people actually feel sorry for not having read something is just so sad.
I’ve usually seen this sentiment go around about the big and famous series which have gone around for a while. Like Harry Potter. A Song of Ice and Fire. The Lord of the Rings. The Mortal Instruments. Usually, this famous, big series are the ones which people feel most guilty over not having read and you know what? I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me that you haven’t ever read Harry Potter. You like books? Let’s be friends!
Now let’s get into the reasons why not having read a famous book is completely alright. 1) Everyone has different tastes. And not just that, everyone has different interests. A person might not at all like the genre or rather, even if he/she is interested in the genre, he might not be intersted in the story. For eg, I love fantasy as a genre but am least interested in Lady Midnight (by Cassandra Clare). I’m aware of how popular and hyped this series is and how it is on a lot of people’s favorite books list of the year, but I also know that just because you love a genre does NOT mean that you’ll be interested in every book from that genre. And let’s face it, if a book doesn’t interest you, why would you pick it up?
2) Time. I might be the busiest person in the world. On the other hand, I might be able to read twenty books a month. You can never really understand how hard and busy someone’s life is until you step into his shoes – then how can we judge someone for not having read a particular book? Everyone has a life beyond books, everyone has different priorities and different lifestyles and different ways of tackling reading within their busy lives. Let’s permit each and every individual to read at their own pace, in their own way and what best suits them. So, someone who hasn’t read, say, The Hunger Games, might not have had the time or inclination enough to read it!
3) Let’s not forget that there are MILLIONS of books out there. Yep. It’s physically not possible to have read every single thing. I mean, come on. Someone might not have read The Chronicles of Narnia, but instead of that, they must have read something else and that’s all that matters. That they’re reading and sharing your love for reading.
So don’t you be ashamed or even slightly guilty for not having read the most famous book in the world. Popularity is only a perspective, and doesn’t define anything. Read ONLY what you’re interested in and there’s nothing to hesitate in, when the next time you have to say that you haven’t read so-and-so famous series. It’s alright! As long as you’re reading, you’re doing a great job.