If you haven’t read [insert author, book, series, etc here] can you really call yourself a reader? I got this for years with a certain set of friends on Proust. Dudes, I’m not doing it. I get that you love the oeuvre and consider it a bastion of talent and taste, but I am working on other things. Sorry. Go circle jerk on Proust in some other corner of the party. I’m here and I’m talking Dune. And if you call me out on it again, I will be dropping a Cheezy in your martini glass. Any authors/books you get badgered about?
There are two enormous problems with this frame of mind. The first one is that it’s like having reading blinders. You can’t see a wider picture and you miss so much because of it. For example, when people say they don’t have many women authors on their shelves. I find this shocking. How couldn’t they? There are so many great women writers out there today. But then I see that their shelves are mostly classics and I understand. Of course they don’t have many women on their shelves, they think that only the popular classics are worthwhile. After all, they are classics for a reason. Their bookish worldview is limited, and it leaves little place for diversity.
The other problem I’ve found is that when you judge people for the stories they read, it shames them into not reading. I have friends that don’t read because all their lives they’ve been forced to read the same books over and over. Be it 1984, The Catcher in the Rye, or Edgar Allan Poe, these are the books you read growing up. You are taught that these are the books that are worth your time. And if you like them that’s great! More books for you to enjoy! But what if you don’t? You’ll read (or find a trusty SparkNotes) to pass a grade and nothing else. You won’t find the joy and comfort of holding a book and seeing yourself within its pages. You will never find your way into books and the magic they hold.