Escapists Uncensored: My Encounter with a Book Snob

Escapists UncensoredSo it finally happened. After 7 years of going to the Barnes & Noble located in my hometown I ran into a book snob.

I’m sure I’ve run into book snobs before but if so they were quiet about it. I imagine they expressed their disdain in my reading choices through eye rolls or upturned noses. Not so this past week.  Not only did I run into a noisy book snob but also a nosy one. Is there anything worse?

This person, who shall be identified from here on out as Snobbish, seemed to be searching for people to look down on. Now, I’m not sure how everyone else shops in their book stores, but I start at the café with a Caramel Vanilla Latte and make my way around the perimeter of the store before seeking out my favorite genre sections. And it seemed like where ever I went, Snobbish was there.

AStewart-Drunken BotanistIn the gardening department he scoffed loudly at the teen who was looking at the quirky gardening book, The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. I’ve looked at this book before just because I loved the cover and thought it was something my sister would appreciate. This book was meant to be interesting and funny, and it was! Plus you learn some weird piece of trivia along the way. Now why did Snobbish scoff at this book? Was it the cover? The title? The fact it wasn’t from Better Home and Gardens? Seriously, it’s a gardening book. How anyone be a snob about a gardening book is beyond me.

Then while I was looking through the new releases in Sci-fi and Fantasy, Snobbish walks by and I hear him say to someone on the phone how he just can’t believe people read any fantasy that was written after J.R.R. Tolkien’s era. Seriously? The only fantasy that should be read is from the mid 1900’s and before? What about George R.R. Martin? Or Steven Erikson or Robin Hobb? Robert Jordan? Neil Gaiman? Douglas Adams? Orson Scott Card? Am I supposed to read only Dracula or Frankenstein? Maybe only The War of Worlds or The Invisible Man.

And how can he just completely write off the more modern day sub-genres like Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance? A multi-million dollar industry with so many best sellers it is impossible to keep count and he just disregards it. I can’t even wrap my head around it. I don’t really want to either. My brain may explode if I try to understand that justification.

And then I saw Snobbish in the kid’s section. Luckily he must have already made the rounds because I only saw him as I going in and he was leaving. And he was again on his phone talking about how there are so many horrible children’s books and how he can’t believe that parents let their children read them. Snobbish just better be happy he didn’t knock Dr. Seuss in front of me or there would’ve been blood.*

I’m not even going to mention what Snobbish said in the Teen section. Just know that I was not the only one who looked like they would have liked to hit him.

And then it happened. Snobbish went just a little too far for me. I was at one of my favorite displays, the Doctor Who table, when he walked by and said he wished that book stores would stick to selling books and stop with all the useless little trinkets that don’t have anything to do with reading. And the shocking thing is he said it to me! I’m not entirely sure why he thought I would be a receptive audience since I was busy giggling over a Doctor Who Anipose plushie but he did. I kind of lost it.

I told him that I felt sorry for him if he couldn’t understand why so many people liked Doctor Who. And I loved the fact Barnes & Noble had Doctor Who merchandise displayed. Someone who goes to into a book store to buy something Doctor Who might see a book that interests them and they’ll read it. How could that be a bad thing? Then Snobbish huffed and took off before I could really get going. Probably for the best since I really have no desire to be banned from Barnes & Noble and I have a tendency to get loud when I feel passionate about something.

I don’t understand how anyone can be a snob over books. Reading is a GOOD thing. It really doesn’t matter what is being read. The point is that people are reading. Maybe it’s the educator in me but I would rather have people reading books, even ones  I don’t like, than playing video games or binging on Netflix (which I am guilty of so I’m not knocking it or anything).

I really do feel sorry for Snobbish. Because he is convinced that the only books that should be read are classics, he is missing out on so much. He’ll never visit a magic ridden Atlanta. A Manhattan ruled by an Archangel. A Victorian London where people have too much soul or not enough. He’ll never know why a guide to the galaxy might be needed. Or why an Angel and a Demon team up to stop the apocalypse. It’s actually depressing when you think about it.

Oh well, I guess there’s really nothing I can do about it except try to never become a book snob myself. What about you? Have you ever had an encounter with a book snob? Are you a book snob yourself? Are you afraid of becoming a book snob?

Here are a few good posts about book snobs, what to say to them and how to identify if you are a book snob yourself.

  • What is a Book Snob?: What makes a reader a snob is making the leap from judging a book to judging its readers- when we go from “this book is bad according to x standards” to “this book is bad and therefore people who read it and enjoy it are inferior to me.”
  • KDipucchio-Zombie in Love30 Things to Tell a Book Snob: People should never be made to feel bad about what they are reading. People who feel bad about reading will stop reading.
  • How to Know if You’re a Book Snob: If you’ve read Twilight, I judge you. If your idea of “good fiction” is Danielle Steele, I judge you. If you’ve never read The Great Gatsby, I judge you.

*On a side note, if you are looking for a different kind of children’s book, I highly recommend Zombie in Love written by Kelly DiPucchio and  illustrated by Scott Campbell. It’s weird and kind of  gross, but very cute. I read it to my students and they loved it. *

Mortimer is looking for love. And he’s looking everywhere! He’s worked out at the gym (if only his arm wouldn’t keep falling off). He’s tried ballroom dancing lessons (but the ladies found him to be a bit stiff). He’s even been on How’s a guy supposed to find a ghoul? When it seems all hope has died, could the girl of Mortimer’s dreams be just one horrifying shriek away?

About Courtney 33 Articles
I teach Special Education and have three demented dogs. Between my students all day and my dogs all night my stress relief is reading. It is the only thing that keeps me from going crazy. Or should I say from going crazier? I read anything but I prefer fantasy, sci-fi and steampunk. I also love urban fantasy and historical romances. If it has dragons and magic, vampires and werewolves, crazy machines and corsets or aliens and spaceships then I’m happy. Mix in a Scotland laird or two every once in a while and I’m ecstatic!


  1. All I can think about the gardening book is that Snobbish was thinking, “Ugh, of course a teen would be looking at stuff to do with alcohol; deliquent!”

    Honestly, though, I kind of want that book because it sounds interesting! Thanks for bringing it to my attention! :D

    I think many people can come across as a little bit snobbish when talking about what kinds of books they prefer or don’t prefer. But honestly, it sounds a lot like Snobbish was just looking for a reason to gripe, no matter what it was about. I’ve seen people say similar things, talking about the downfall of literature and how people should read the classics because they’re classics for a reason and none of this modern crap can compare, and in the next breath talk about how people just have no imagination anymore. Well of course it must seem like that when you’re refusing to look at the expanse of imagination presented in the volumes of literature scattered in every section of a bookstore of library that isn’t labelled “Classic Fiction!” Some people like to bitch because it makes them feel better about themselves. “Look at me, look how I have such discerning tastes, and anyone who doesn’t agree with me must therefore like crap and is just stupid and ignorant and isn’t intelligent enough to appreciate me.” They feel small and so want to make other people feel smaller. Kind of sad, really.

  2. Oh my. You handled that better than I would have :) Wonder if he realized that if none of the other merchandise sold, his precious “classics” would have no store? And on another note… wonder what he was even doing there since he had such limited taste. Pooh on book snobs! Really… wish karma would slap them with poo outside.

  3. So, I’m a little confused as to why he was even in there if all he was going to do was badmouth everything. I would also have told him where he could stick his thoughts.

  4. My book club is composed of a group of ladies whom I’ve been close friends with for years, and who read mainly LitFic. A couple of them have a definite tendency to look down on my love of romance, and UF. I used to just take their cracks about it in silence, but I finally told them off a few years ago. I’ve also had a few discussions with them about how Twilight and Harry Potter, and 50 Shades were all good because they encouraged more people to read. Needless to say, they disagree with me, and keep saying, “well, but it would be so much BETTER if they would read something worthwhile instead….” They just don’t get it and it makes me sad. For the most part, I try to avoid those discussions now, and I stick to their preferred genres when we talk about books.

    Thanks for mentioning that gardening book – it sounds like something my husband would love LOL.

    • I have to admit to being a little snobbish when it comes to 50 Shades – I just know there are so many authors out there trying to get attbention for their original work that all the hype a Twilight fanfic received bothers me. I’m usually quiet about it though until someone tells me she started the erotica genre or she’s the best the genre has to offer. Then I get a little vocal. *grin*

      But otherwise, I can’t argue with the fact that the books did get people reading a genre they normally probably wouldn’t. Although personally, Harry Potter is way better than people give it credit for. Especially considering it’s probably more of a middle grade book than young adult.

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