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Bookish Pet Peeve #3: The Book Snob

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

We’ve talked a lot about book snobs here on 101 Books. But, today, I want to take it to a new level and make the dreaded Book Snob one of my official bookish pet peeves. This is a select group of which, to this point, there’s only three.

I know a lot about book snobbery. I’ve been one at various points in my life, and I still have book snob tendencies. It’s not a point of pride. So I can speak with some authority here.

Here’s the deal with the book snob. The book snob regularly confuses his or her personal taste over a matter of art—that being literature—with gospel. You see, the book snob respects only one opinion—his own. He respects only one type of book—the ones he likes.

If you don’t read “The Classics,” if Beowulf and Shakespeare and Chaucer and Joyce aren’t prominently displayed on your bookshelf, if you can’t give four different critical interpretations of Gatsby’s green light, then you’re an amateur, a wanna-be, a literary piss ant.

Doesn’t The Book Snob sound lovely?

Some question whether or not The Book Snob is actually an organic lifeform, whether he might actually be a cyborg of some sort, programmed by academia to circulate “well-respected” literary opinion out to the masses—to the peons like you and me.

The typical Book Snob is more militant in his opinions than a Tea Party recruit or one of those if-you-dare-immunize-your-child-from-disease-your-child-will-soon-die type of parents. He also feels it to be his divine right to share his literary opinions without prompting.

Pop fiction? Surely you jest. John Gresham? Oh my poor dear. Vampires? Zombies? Space men with pointy ears who save the galaxy? You are a sad, sad child, aren’t you?

The Book Snob will desperately attempt to make you feel as if your opinion on a book isn’t good enough. He’ll desperately attempt to make you feel like you have the intelligence of a brain-damaged sloth.

So how do you respond to his literary trolling? Just smile and say, “That’s nice.” Then move on.

If you’re feeling insecure, remember this: The Book Snob is more insecure than you. How do I know? It’s reflected in the arrogance of his tone, in his insistence that he is always right, in his eagerness to butt in and insert an academic opinion into every conversation.

The Book Snob is the literary equivalent of an NFL rookie who scores his first touchdown and proceeds to taunt the other team and earn a 15-yard penalty. On the sideline, the coach will pull him aside and say, “Act like you’ve been there before, boy!”

The true academics—the noble ones—know that you don’t have to be an arrogant [insert your favorite word for the male sexual organ here] when you disagree with another reader. They are just as willing to listen and try to understand your opinion as they are to explain their own. And, you see, they explain—they don’t lecture.

So if you’re a book snob, I offer you hope. I am here to tell you there’s another way. You don’t have to be the person in your book club that everyone hates.

Come to the other side with the rest of the brain-damaged sloths like me.

Previous Bookish Pet Peeves

#1: Bookstore Cell Phone Blabbermouth

#2: The Nosey Over-The-Shoulder Reader

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