Book Hate

Now that the holidays are over, time to get back on track:

Question #3: What do you hate about books?

I have a surprisingly serious answer for what started out as a flippant question:

I hate the idea of the book as an icon, good or bad.

You know what I mean. The book is a symbol of education and class, more so than money since money can only give the appearance of acculturation. This should be a good thing since books represents knowledge, self-betterment or intellectual/cultural/aesthetic achievement. And we as librarians tout the image of the book as way of motivating our patrons to take advantage of what books offer them.

But there is a dark side to all of this: the book as a litmus test of intellectual or social acceptability. Does a dislike of reading books make someone deficient? Do your friends (or heaven forbid, YOU) make judgments about others based on their taste in reading? Or lack of interest in reading? You don’t do it? Browse through Myspace or any other social networking site, take a look at what folks list as their favorite books and try not to react with some sort of visceral opinion as to their intellectual/aesthetic sensibilities. It’s darn near impossible.

For many folks these are the exact reasons why they don’t read: books represent an intellectual (and at times a moral) failing on their part. And those of us on the other side do little to dissuade them from their self-image.

Don’t get me wrong: I love books–I wouldn’t be a librarian if I didn’t. But I can also be the biggest snob as to what I and others read. Now I’m just going to try a little harder not to use my affinity for books as cerebral hammer.

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