judge me by my bookshelf, do you?

i was thinking about Con’s post from yesterday, and how she’s noticed a change in her morning routine over the decade of blogging. that got me thinking about my routine and what i read every day. up until yesterday i would have said the dreaded ‘i don’t read regularly’ line that stirs up shudders in library and book folk; however it’s not entirely true. i read a lot.

it made me realise that the reason i haven’t really ever classed it as ‘reading’ is because i’ve been shamed into believing that it is subpar to the mighty literary novel. i’ll get to what i read in a little bit…

part of the territory as a library person is seeing many a meme or a quote come through my feeds in various online forums. many of them resemble something like this:


yay, books are made from the rainbows that unicorns poop in their dreams!

okay, so i’m an ice queen to your flowers and candlelit background quotes. these ones are met with no more than a basic eyeroll, because i do love books. i don’t think it necessarily warrants a scientifically incorrect statement based on non peer-reviewed research and an obvious lack of understanding about biology, but i appreciate the sentiment.

but i don’t appreciate the sentiment of the other kind of (more frequent than you would think) book memes like this:



or this one:




the first one is crass and dismissive. the second one is just bloody rude. what is wrong with electronic reading resources? and what’s a bookworm? daily reading? weekly? can they choose their own material or does it have to come from specific genres?

these have come from communities that include bookshop owners and employees, publishers, and librarians (and writers etc). i’m not attributing them for once because i’m not prepared to start a turf war, but they are available in google searches and many library based communities and they frustrate me. we should know better. we are about information, literacy, and sharing knowledge. or did i just miss the bit about us also being a wee bit snobbish and elitist?

so why haven’t i been ‘out and proud’ about my reading habits? i read blogs. gossip blogs. shallow blogs about shallow people. and I don’t care.

i don’t read rubbish gossip blogs. i read really, really awesome ones that are juicy and funny and written as well as most of the novels coming out of major publishing houses these days. my favourite is LaineyGossip who’s creator, Canadian Elaine Liu has a degree in arts, a background in social work, and her first novel published. She’s often joined by Duana Taha who is also a writer, and is by far the coolest blogger I follow in that she’s a screenwriter for Degrassi. DEGRASSI.

I also love gofugyourself.com. yep, it’s about fashion. expensive fashion worn by famous people. i don’t care about that either. i appreciate art, and fashion is art. the drama of the runway and the red carpet is fun, and often hilarious, so why shouldn’t I follow it and enjoy?

when i lived with a flatmate in Sydney nearly 10 years ago, we had a house party. a guest who was unknown to me commented on the lack of books on the communal bookshelf in our living room, and implied (by implied i mean straight up, word for word told me) that “people who don’t have many novels are ignorant”. the fact that perhaps we both had our personal collections under lock down and surveillance in our private rooms clearly hadn’t crossed her mind, and yet i was the ignorant one because my books weren’t out for scrutiny by strangers. from that moment on, i vowed i would never, ever judge a house by its bookshelf, or a person by their reading habits. i don’t exactly shout my gossip habit from the rooftops (clearly, because I called myself a non- regular reader up until today!), but it doesn’t mean i don’t read. and it doesn’t mean i should feel bad that i’m not ploughing through patrick white on a weekly basis. the same could be suggested for other people who read graphic novels, ebooks, chicklit/romance,  young adult fiction, or even agatha christie (yes, i’ve been shamed for my poirot addiction too): reading is reading.

i’m not saying i don’t love reading. i LOVE reading. and i’m not saying I don’t love books, because i LOVE LOVE LOVE books (and I read a fair few ‘crap’ ones that deliberately get left off the goodreads list because: book snobs…), but i do struggle to make it a regular habit that is deemed worthy in the greater book community.

i guess what i hope is that if you’re going to use book memes, stick to these ones:


Note: my meme placeholder names were as follows:

<insert soppy warm hugs book meme here>
<insert crappy unfunny piggy-backing anti-ebook meme here>
<insert meme insulting my standards because book snobs think I’m stupid here>
<insert lovely warm hugs meme about reading being inclusive here>

*i know i probably have put many people offside with my snobby dismissal of all things inspirational; i’m just a first-class cynic from way back. you’ll get over it. 😛



4 thoughts on “judge me by my bookshelf, do you?

  1. Love, love, LOVE this post!

    I’d say “I never read” but that would be to ignore all the reading of medical journal articles I used to read in the course of my work, all the gossip mags, websites, Twitter feeds, click bait articles, etc. Years of speed-reading medical articles has given me bad reading habits and I haven’t been able to read a book for fun in years.

    I get sick of those memes too! So judgmental! Am I less of a person because I have different reading habits?

    Thank you for this post. I feel good about myself now. 🙂

  2. One thing that I’ve loved about the growing focus on Reader Development in libraries is that it’s not about the content of the reading material, or the idea that some books are better quality literature, or that only X kind of people would read Y kind of a book. It’s about fostering a culture of reading as a recreational activity, and a community-building activity, where people are encouraged to enjoy reading, share their experience of reading with those around them, and allow their experience of reading to inspire them to pursue further creativity in whatever its forms. It doesn’t matter whether you’re reading a print book or e-book, John Green or Joan London… what matters is that you had an experience of reading, and you want to tell me about it.

    Actually, it kinda matters if you were reading a print book, because it means you can lend it to me when you’ve finished.

    1. that’s what you and I do! hooraaaaaay!! others post snippy memes about judging ppl by their bookshelf and I want to yell at them 😩 by the way I loved your driving post for day 3. hilarious!

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