It’s hard to be myself sometimes. It’s especially hard to be myself when it comes to books. There’s a certain kind of pressure to appear cultured and refined. If you don’t read certain books, then somehow your opinions on good reading is undervalued or not at all.
A friend of mine is into speculative fiction. At one point she considered getting a Ph.d. in creative writing with a focus in fiction/speculative fiction. Apparently there were only a couple of universities that had one or two students that focused on speculative fiction. People just don’t think it’s a genre that carries much weight in the literary world.
It’s the same with romance novels and even erotic novels. There are people who come into certain libraries and when they check out these types of books they sometimes say, “I’m kind of ashamed to be checking this book out. I don’t want anybody else to know.” And when other people observe this they say, “If they’re that ashamed about what they’re checking out, then they shouldn’t be reading it at all.” And that’s why I don’t check these types of books out myself just to see what they’re about because I know someone might see me and silently judge me for my choices.
And that’s a shame because I think genre writing can carry a lot of weight. Science fiction presents certain ideas about life and society that we wouldn’t have thought about otherwise if that author hadn’t written about it. Historical fiction presents us with different viewpoints in different historical points and makes us interested in researching those time periods for ourselves.
Judging others for what they read and shaming them to read certain books isn’t going to make them do so. It only discourages them from wanting to read at all since society is shaming them from reading what they truly enjoy and if they do read what they love, then they tend to read it in secret. Why not encourage all writers to produce better quality of work? In the very least, it’ll encourage a diverse variety of reading choices and that’s all any of us are really asking for.