Are you a Book Snob?

Book_of_Snobs-Première_de_couvertureBeing a Scatterbooker, I’m definitely not a book snob in the slightest.  Sometimes I like to read ‘real’ books, sometimes I use a kindle, sometimes I’ll read a classic, sometimes I’ll read something ‘trashy.’ I don’t have any particular genre that I will only read at the exclusion of all others, but there are a few genres that I enjoy more than others. I also would never dare to criticise anybody for which books they choose to read or which format they read it in and why on earth would I even care?

I think the biggest problem with book snobs is that they seem to enjoy going out of their way to let other people know that their way is far superior and anybody who doesn’t do things the way that they think they should be done is wrong. Thackeray wrote a hilarious set of articles titled The Book of Snobs back 1848 which wittily describes all sorts of the different kinds of snobs that existed in the 1800’s so it seems that snobbery has been around for quite a while. And people have been quietly (or not so quietly) making fun of them for just as long! So I think it’s  time  for all of the book snobs (and the rest) to lighten up and not worry so much about what or how other people read.

Types of Book Snobs:

The ‘I never read e-books’ book snob: This kind of book snob thinks that the Internet is the devil and e-books are out to destroy the publishing industry and all books along with it. It’s strange how often this opinion gets voiced via the  evil Internet, usually with an iPhone. In reality, the Internet is a tool for communication, although definitely the best one invented so far. The publishing world has survived many technological changes and books will always continue to be made. If you prefer to read real books, that’s great, I quite like them too, but I’m not out to destroy the publishing world by reading e-books sometimes too.

The ‘I only read literary fiction/classics’ book snob: Fantastic! I read literary fiction/classics as well sometimes. I also really enjoy discovering new and self published authors whose books may become classics in 50 years or so. I do wonder why you need somebody else to tell you that a book is good, why not make your own decisions about what you do or do not like?

The ‘I only read a specific genre absolutely nothing else’ book snob: This seems strange to a Scatterbooker like me, but ok then. Don’t these people get bored of reading the same genre all the time though?

The ‘Twilight/50 Shades of Grey/Harry Potter ect are awful and I will go out of my way to read them just so I can tell everyone how bad they are’ book snob: If you are book snob why would you even read a book that you have already decided is awful? I’ve even seen reviewers live tweet their adverse reactions to books like this. For the record, I quite liked Twilight, love Harry Potter but I just couldn’t get into 50 Shades at all. It doesn’t really bother me that it’s successful. I just stopped reading once I realised it wasn’t my cup of tea and I don’t feel a need to go and tell people off if they say they enjoyed it.

The ‘the book is always better than the movie’ book snob: I tend to agree with this most of the time, and I do much prefer to read the book before I see the movie, but there are exceptions. The Princess Bride is one that stands out for me. I’m not sure if I’ve even read that book and I don’t really want to because the movie was amazing! I also started watching Game of Thrones and then tried to read the books but I just couldn’t get into them, so I’ll stick with the series for now and perhaps give the books another try in a few years when it isn’t so fresh in my mind.

The ‘I keep my books in pristine condition and will cut you if I lend you a book and you return it dog eared or with food crumbs’ book snob: These kind of book snobs obviously have control issues. I can imagine them sitting up super straight and taking forever to turn the page because they are worried about creasing it ever so slightly. And definitely no food while reading which kind of takes half the fun of reading away I think. I’m just happy to have my books returned to me, never mind if there are a few creases or crumbs here and there. I like my books to look like they’ve been enjoyed, I think it adds to their character.

The ‘at least they’re reading something I guess’ book snob: This kind of book snob is my very least favourite. It’s so condescending and implies that anybody who doesn’t read fiction is dumb which is extremely untrue and the worst form of snobbery there is. My partner, for example, never reads fiction but he is far from stupid. He’s an IT geek and most of his friends and work colleagues would agree that he is the smartest person they know by far. He just has a highly technical mind, so doesn’t get into reading for fun.

What kinds of book snobs have you come across? Or are you a book snob yourself?

Book Review: Daughter by Jane Shemilt

Title: Daughter  daughter

Author: Jane Shemilt

ISBN: 9781405916516

Published: Published August 28th 2014 by Penguin

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 392

Source: I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Description:

Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.

As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.

My Thoughts:

Jenny Malcolm thinks she has the perfect life until the day that her beloved fifteen year old daughter, Naomi, goes missing. Jenny has the perfect career as a GP, a perfect neurologist husband and three perfect children and prides herself on managing it all without any dramas. Then one evening Naomi heads off to perform in her school play, never to return again. During the course of the year long investigation to find Naomi, Jenny’s entire perfect life begins to unravel before her very eyes and she discovers that she doesn’t know any of her family members quite as well as she thought she did.

While I thought Jane Shemilt’s writing was superb, particularly for a debut author, I found Daughter to be a little bit slow in parts for my liking. It went between the time when Naomi went missing and 12 months after and I found the chapters set 12 months after were perhaps a little bit drawn out. I would have enjoyed hearing from some of the other character’s point of view as well, I think it would have added to the story to hear from them.

I thought Jenny was a difficult character to sympathise with, despite the fact that she went through such an awful time. She seemed so disinterested in her children and husband throughout the entire novel, almost as though she just wanted them to be the perfect accessories for her perfect life. I’m not saying that women can’t have great careers as well as children or that teenagers should have absolutely no secrets from their parents, but you do need to make the most of the time that you do get to spend with them and perhaps answer your children’s phone calls occasionally.

The twists and turns of Daughter definitely kept me guessing. Everybody in the Malcolm family had their own secrets which were gradually revealed throughout the course of the novel. I’m not too sure how I feel about the ending, but I certainly didn’t see it coming.

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Book Review: Artificial Culture: Identity, Technology, and Bodies by Tama Leaver

Title:  Artificial Culture:  Identity, Technology, and Bodies                      artificial culture

Author: Tama Leaver

ISBN: 1283458829

Published: Published May 10th 2014 by Routledge (first published January 1st 2011)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Academic

Pages: 221

Source: I received a paperback copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Description:

Artificial Culture is an examination of the articulation, construction, and representation of the artificial in contemporary popular cultural texts, especially science fiction films and novels. The book argues that today we live in an artificial culture due to the deep and inextricable relationship between people, our bodies, and technology at large. While the artificial is often imagined as outside of the natural order and thus also beyond the realm of humanity, paradoxically, artificial concepts are simultaneously produced and constructed by human ideas and labor. The artificial can thus act as a boundary point against which we as a culture can measure what it means to be human. Science fiction feature films and novels, and other related media, frequently and provocatively deploy ideas of the artificial in ways which the lines between people, our bodies, spaces and culture more broadly blur and, at times, dissolve. Building on the rich foundational work on the figures of the cyborg and posthuman, this book situates the artificial in similar terms, but from a nevertheless distinctly different viewpoint. After examining ideas of the artificial as deployed in film, novels and other digital contexts, this study concludes that we are now part of an artificial culture entailing a matrix which, rather than separating minds and bodies, or humanity and the digital, reinforces the symbiotic connection between identities, bodies, and technologies.

My Thoughts:

Although Artificial Culture:Identity, Technology, and Bodies explores some rather heavy and complex concepts but it was written very well and raised some really interesting concepts so it didn’t feel like I was reading a dry old textbook at all. Tama Leaver examined several popular science fiction texts such as Avatar, 2001:A Space Odyssey, Terminator, Neuromancer, Marvel’s Spiderman and The Matrix to illustrate the ways in which science fiction popular culture frequently and provocatively deploys ideas of the artificial in ways which the lines between people, our bodies, spaces and culture more broadly blur and, at times, dissolve.

The author argues that technology has become so entrenched in our everyday lives that today we live in an artificial culture due to the deep and inextricable relationship between people, our bodies, and technology at large. It’s an interesting idea to ponder and something I’d like to hear your thoughts on.

I highly recommend Artificial Culture:Identity, Technology, and Bodies to anybody who is interested in digital and contemporary culture. Tama Leaver is a senior lecturer in the department of Internet Studies at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. He researches digital identity, social media, and the changing landscapes of media distribution. You can check out Tama’s recent work on his blog at http://www.tamaleaver.net/

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