There is a conversation that happens once a blue moon when I am stuck with another person with no other option than to talk. The following is the remainder of that desperate conversation after we’ve discussed our curriculum vitae.
Me: (suffering through a bout of mental agony trying to think of a topic) So. You read?
The Other Person: Yes! I read more than the average person. What about you?
Me: OHMYGODYES. You must have an idea how hard it is to come across another bookworm, right?
TOP: Absolutely! What kind of books do you read?
Me: I am passing through a realistic YA phase. With some dystopia thrown in for good measure. I completely adore historical fiction and love literary prose (Patrick Ness is KING). I also read enough of adult fiction (I need some social drama for my diet), poetry and of course, classics. That’s off the top of my head. What about you?
Almost this conversation happened when I first met Miss J. Except that she came searching for me asking, “Hey I heard you read?” and her answer to my “What books do you read?” confirmed us book buddies.
But sometimes TOP’s answer throws me.
TOP: Wow. So you must have read Twilight, right? I am such a Twihard. And I completely love Fifty Shades. My favourite author is (insert contemporary romance writer’s name).
We all know what they say about books and their covers. In my case, I read the book’s backside blurb only if the cover does alright by me. But I am also guilty of a worse crime.
I judge a person by the book (s)he reads.
The worst part? I don’t even think that badly of all those people who haven’t even come across A Book.
God help any Twihard or Fifty Shades fan who crosses my path – they are guaranteed to get an earful from me. That awful conversation includes a lot of “Yeah? What so great about stalkers and paedophiles?” and “No. Don’t tell me that’s love, it’s called creepy” and “Right. You are a fan of a heroine who turns suicidal because her vampire boyfriend dumped her” and “Do you know that the word ‘stone’ has been used 12 times to describe Edward in Twilight alone?” and “Do not get me started on Fifty Shades”.
Then I come across Rae Carson and a little something she said to disrupt my sleep.
Putting it that way made me feel pretty bad for all those times I handed out patronizing lectures. Rae Carson is one writer in my list of fandoms I am a citizen of, whose series finale did not involve unnecessary character murders and crappy plot. So when she said that, I did lose my sleep over whether or not she’s right.
But think about it. How is being a fan of literary porn justifiable? According to me, a person who loves reading erotica literature isn’t a bookworm – the same way someone who watches a lot of porn isn’t a movie buff. And Twilight. I feel it’s preaching the wrong ‘moral of the story’ disguised with the stuff of eighth grade girls’ dreams. I realize Carson was employing them as mere examples but it’s still pretty hard to not get worked up when people mention them. (Maybe it’s because I matured after reading Twilight and felt scammed. Never tried Fifty Shades, though and never will.) When I come across reviews of books that feature covers with girls and boys in intimate poses with half lidded eyes, I don’t even read the title. I read contemporary romances only when I want to get over a book hangover or just kill time – like getting drunk and strip dancing (not that I would know anything about it). I also realize my YA favourites are looked down upon by some literary snobs (whose choices sometimes bore me to death) but I have my reasons – it’s because they keep amazing me.
But maybe Twihards have their reasons too. I don’t know.