Reading Rage Tuesday: Get all Snobby Again and I’ll Give You a King of a Neckpunch.

18 September 2012 by 84 Comments

Oh, you’re reading THAT? Huh.

There are a lot of things in the world that make me ragey. Bad drivers. Raging sexists. Bags of food that say “easy open” but they are CLEARLY NOT EASY OPEN and you TOTALLY TEAR THE WHOLE BAG OPEN and then fish sticks go EVERYWHERE and the cat comes over all “YAY WHAT A BANNER DAY FISH STICKS FROM THE SKY!” I mean, so I hear. I totally would never eat fish sticks. How déclassé would that be? Fish sticks. I mean REALLY.

Reading-wise, I have my rages, too. Cardboard characters. Lack of proofreading. You know. The usual. The things that make us all ragey. But today, let’s talk about something that’s a little more personal to me, and also to the week.

It’s time to stop the King-snobbery, because it makes me want to punch you in the throat-area.

Uncle Stevie does not approve of your asshattery.

I’m (well, duh, I think you can tell from the week) an unabashed King fan. I’ve read nearly everything he’s written, give or take some short stories I’m having trouble hunting down. New Stephen King book day in Casa de Amy is akin to Christmas or a birthday. I started reading his books in junior high, snuck to me by a very sympathetic (and kickass) babysitter. (Seriously, I don’t remember her name at this point, but she was such a reader. I loved her. She was funny and intelligent and always shared her books. And would buy books for me that she thought I’d like at garage sales and let me keep them! Babysitter whose name I don’t remember, I appreciate you!)

A thing I hate is when I tell someone I’m a King fan (because listen, I’m not at all ashamed of it, it’s not like I’m admitting to picking my nose in public places or being…*shudder*…a politician) and they make THE FACE.

You know the face. The face of disgust. Like the person smelled something ripe in public. Then I get, “Oh. Stephen KING. I don’t read his books.”

Usually these people feel the need to explain WHY they don’t read his books to me. The reasons are:

  • “I hate horror. I never read horror.”
  • “I don’t read that kind of trash. I only read…(Oprah’s selections/non-fiction/books written by female authors on paper woven of their own hair.”)
  • “He just keeps writing the same thing over and over. He’s boring.”
  • “That’s popular stuff. Popular stuff is never good.”
  • “THOSE BOOKS ARE FILTHY!” (that one’s from my mom. One cuss = that book is filthy.)

Now, listen. Everyone has their own taste. I don’t like to be judgey. What? I totally don’t. I mean, I AM, but I get it. Some people like some things, some like others. I get it. But I don’t like THE FACE. The snotty, snooty “MY BOOKS ARE BETTER THAN YOUR BOOKS” face.

Stephen King shouldn’t inspire Bitter Beer Face. (Please tell me at least one of you remembers the Bitter Beer Face commercials or I’m going to feel ancient.)

Maybe he’s not your taste; maybe you don’t like his writing style, or, like my mom, even one cuss makes you feel like you’re holding a book of porn, I don’t know. But I can address the reasons above in a very intellectual way. You just watch, bub.

I hate horror. I never read horror.
He just keeps writing the same thing over and over again; he’s boring.

Well, that’s your prerogative. But he doesn’t just WRITE horror. Sure, he’s best known for his horror. But he also writes wonderful fantasy (The Dark Tower series; Eyes of the Dragon) and books with a sci-fi bent (11/22/63, The Tommyknockers.) He also writes non-fiction (his On Writing is really wonderful for anyone interested in writing anything, ever) and short stories, some of which are horror, sure, but some are not. Not at all.

This also covers the “same thing over and over” argument. No, he doesn’t. Does he tend to cover the scarier things in the world? Yes. Of course he does. But they’re not the same. Not at all. You haven’t read more than a couple of his books if you think that.

I don’t read that kind of trash.

This makes me ragiest. Don’t call other people’s books trash. I don’t like the Twilight books, but I don’t call them trash and make a face like I smelled a dead skunk under my porch. I hated that Fifty Shades nonsense, but if a friend came to me and was all “BEST THING EVER ZOMG,” I wouldn’t make a face and say “YOU ARE A TRASHY TRASHERSON.” I might nicely say, “I didn’t like that,” but I wouldn’t make them feel BAD about liking it. That is rude. Don’t do that.

Book snobs (or any sort of media snobs) make me angry. You like what you like, you dislike what you dislike – but you don’t need to make your friends and loved ones feel shitty about what they enjoy. You’re being a joy-sucker when you do that. Do you want to be a joy-sucker? Do you really? There’s so little joy in the world that you need to remove MORE of it? No. The answer to that is no, you don’t.

Also, the man’s won multiple awards. Check here if you don’t believe me. Most shocking? The National Book Award in 2003. People were SO UPSET about that one. There was a lot of talk of “dumbing down the NBA for popular authors” and such. I was just pleased. Because the man deserved it. He works hard. And his books are good, dammit. Really, really good.

King and his wife Tabitha at the National Book Awards. By the way, I love them. Just so you know.

(Also, his books have sold more than 350 million copies as of the writing of this post, making him the 19th bestselling author of all time. OF ALL TIME, you guys. Like, in ALL OF RECORDED BOOKSELLING HISTORY. That’s something, right?)

That’s popular stuff. Popular stuff is never good.

Well, it’s sometimes good, and sometimes it’s just popular, and sometimes the twain don’t meet, you know how that works. But sometimes good books make the popular list. King’s books are good, and they make the list. It doesn’t mean they’re bad. It just means they’re popular. Don’t discount them just because everyone else is reading them. That makes you a hipster, and do you really want to be a hipster? Do you really? Because a common synonym for hipster is douche. Just saying.

Hipster! Fingerguns! WINNING!

THOSE BOOKS ARE FILTHY!

Sorry, Mom. Yeah, he likes cussing. And sex. Not more than the average writer, but I learned a LOT of my naughtiest vocab (and, again, sorry, Mom, but the beginnings of my sex knowledge, until I got a little more…um…hands-on?) from King books read on the sly in junior high.

But, everyone who’s not my mom? They’re really not all that filthy. They’re actually quite tame, compared to some of the things I’ve read in the world. Your delicate sensibilities will not be compromised. I promise.

So, yeah. I get it if he’s not your thing. I’m not going to force you to read them; I’m not even going to pressure you. I think he’s amazing, but you know, do your thing, jellybeans. But don’t give me THE FACE. Don’t even. It makes me stabby. And I have a pair of scissors within arms’ length at all times. For this very situation. DON’T MAKE ME USE THEM.

84 thoughts on “Reading Rage Tuesday: Get all Snobby Again and I’ll Give You a King of a Neckpunch.

  1. Omg omg, I think I just lost 5lbs by laughing so wicked hard. Oh how I love this post and I will be sending it out all over the internets!

    I do NOT want to be a joy sucker, I really don’t. But then again, I love me some King.

    I have to admit to being a book snob and wanting to throttle people over their choice of reads at times but I swallow the feeling and I don’t make the face! I swear! Well, in private I do.

    • That’s the key, I think. In private. I mean, we all have attacks of the judgeys… we’re only human, after all. I’m sure there are people who think I’m an insufferable snob for only reviewing literature :D luckily, they don’t tell me, so I can live in ignorance, haha.

      • I’m all for saying I hated something in a review – but if someone came to me, and said, “I loved…whatever” (“Twilight” or something) I would at least attempt to be nice about it. Unless they said something ridiculous like how empowering it is to women or something. I try not to be a joysucker. As much as I can, at least.

    • Oh, in private, most definitely. And in email to friends. And on my blog. But not TO people! If they like something, well, that’s their thing. And good for them! Everyone’s got the right to like whatever they want, you know? I won’t shove my things down their throat as long as they don’t do the same to me.

  2. LOVE! Can I join you on a neck-punching crusade? We can make a road trip of it, just sj and Amy, driving around and punching people in the throat areas? This sounds like my idea of a good time.

  3. LOVE IT!
    I love your Stephen King week, and your point of view! I hate *the* face, and I LOVE Stephen King!
    Thank you for making this week the best week in blogging history :)

  4. Love this post, too.
    This is is an obscure reference here but Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie had a sketch mocking both Canadian universities and highbrow literature types. Because U of Toronto couldn’t afford an infinite number of monkeys to bang away at typewriters, like the larger American universities could, they were experimenting with “finite but still VERY LARGE numbers of monkeys.” They were unable to produce a Hamlet, as yet but, “we did get one King.”
    “King?”
    “Er, Stephen King. The Tommyknockers. In Dutch. But we have high hopes….”
    People (ie. snobs) don’t seem to want to acknowledge that King is a great storyteller. I haven’t read that much of his work, but of what I have, he hooks you on the first page and keeps you till the last.

    • He really does hook you. His characterization is brilliant, and his plots are quite good, for the most part (there are some missteps here and there, but with someone as prolific as he is, they can’t ALL be the best things ever, that’d be insane.) He’s a very good writer, and the people that say he’s not and dismiss him out of hand make me insane.

    • Do it, Kate. DOOOOOO IIIIIIIIIT! Seriously. Do it.

      There’s so much good stuff out there. If you’re not looking for scary, read Eyes of the Dragon. Still one of my favourites of his.

      • There’s also The Bachman Books, which might be more your thing actually, Kate–there are some strong sci-fi influences in some of his early work, like The Long Walk and The Running Man (and The Gunslinger but I’m kind of a freak for liking that one I think). Not that you asked for recommendations… but the whole point of SK week is to enable EVERYONE right? Right? I’m just gonna pretend that it is.

        Different Seasons also has two great non-horror novellas, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption and The Body. The other two I can take or leave.

    • Me too! For any book, not just King’s. And I’m with sj – Eyes of the Dragon’s a good choice for non-scary. Or maybe, if you like fantasy, The Talisman? There are a few scares, but it’s mostly fantasy. It’s co-written with Peter Straub. Still one of my favorites. Eh, who am I kidding, I pretty much love ‘em all.

  5. Thank you for writing this post! Stephen King is an excellent writer, even if you believe that his books are more commercial than literary. There is something to be said for high-quality entertainment.

    However, some of his work is absolutely literary. (The Shining, for example.) If you don’t see it, you’re not reading closely. He may not be James Joyce, but I think we can be grateful for that, actually.

    I could rant on this topic myself!

    • You’re welcome! Thank you for reading!

      And, agreed. He’s got some higher-brow and lower-brow stuff. Something for everyone. I like how much of a variety he has. I think it’s impressive, that sort of range.

  6. Yep. I have to remember this myself sometimes — I can have fun poking fun at Twilight in private, among friends who also like to poke fun at I-have-no-personality-beyond-my-love-for-Edward-sabella Swann, but I won’t sneer at people who like the series. Especially since I haven’t actually read the books myself, but just heard things from people who have. I trust those sources, sure, but I’d be opening myself up to cries of “Hypocrite! Don’t knock it if you haven’t read it yourself!” if I acted like a jerk to people who like Bella and Edward’s super romantic romance of sparkly love.

    And on the flip side, even though a part of me feels like a mother bear whenever someone criticizes one of my favorite books (Harry Potter), or characters (Katniss Everdeen), or shows (Sherlock), or movies (Beauty and the Beast), their opinions are still valid — yeah, Sherlock does kind of fail the Bechdel Test; yeah, Beauty and the Beast is kind of about Stockholm Syndrome and the you-can-change-him mentality — as long as they’re not being douchey about it (whaaat, you still like that thing that I don’t like, you must be brainwashed and not care about strong women).

    In conclusion…yay, Stephen King! :-)

    • We like SO MANY of the same things. It’s kind of insane.

      Totally agreed. With all of this. If we expect respect for our things, we need to (even though it KILLS us) grudgingly respect others. Or, if not respect, keep our lips zipped about ‘em. :)

  7. Okay, I LOVE Stephen King, and I was so scared for a second that this was going to be about stopping snobbery in favor of Stephen King…and considering the blog post I wrote today about how much I love SK, I was prepared to be enraged. But instead I was thrilled! Good answers to all those snobbisms.

    What’s your favorite SK book, btw? :)

    • Oh, no. I don’t dis King. Well, I love him enough that sometimes I can say, “King! What were you THINKING when you…(did whatever)” but it’s out of LOVE.

      Um. Favorite! That’s a tough one. I think I’d have to say “It,” but “The Stand” is a close second, and I have a lot of others I love a great deal, as well. It’s a tough call!

  8. Joy suckers bug me, too. Why try to take someone’s pleasure? Life is hard enough without someone trying to ruin the things that make our clocks tick.

    People who are all judgey aren’t secure in themselves and are just using you to make themselves feel better. Maybe when they grow up, they’ll understand it’s okay to like what we like, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

    • Totally agreed! I think it shows a great deal of maturity to be able to bite your tongue and allow someone to have their pleasure in something that makes you stabby. I try to live by “if it’s not hurting anyone, LET IT GO.” I mean, sure. I’ll poke fun at something on my blog, don’t get me wrong – but that’s my space to do with what I will, and people can choose to click off the page. Face to face is different. There’s no reason to be mean.

  9. It kind of shocks me that there are people who give *the face* to SK fans. I haven’t read much of his work (only three books, to date, though I have The Shining as #4 out from the library right now), but it’s clear he’s a talented writer. Definitely higher quality than a lot of the popular stuff, for sure; you can’t just lump it all together.

    • Eh, people are snobby. They just figure if he’s popular he can’t be any good so they get dismissive. Also, because they are jerky.

    • And I think a lot of it comes down to SK writing things that he thinks are FUN.. you can totally tell that he grew up reading the sci-fi mags, the horror pulps, and seeing those Saturday double features (which, he also wrote about.. but it’s evident from his writing, too). And fun things just aren’t SERIOUS and LITERARY.

      • I suppose. It’s just amusing to me because most of what I read is the fun stuff (high-stakes thrillers are my weakness), and as much as I enjoy it, I have no problem admitting that most of it isn’t all that well-crafted. And SK proves that a book can be both. I guess some people just can’t handle that.

        Also, thank you for doing SK-week, you guys are getting me really excited about reading more of his work. The first thing I read from him was Under the Dome, and I was a little underwhelmed to be honest, but since then I’ve read The Stand and Misery, and have come to really like him.

  10. I’m not gonna lie; I judge people who read Stephanie Meyer or Dan Brown and think those books are great. I judge quietly most of the time, but those people lose my respect. Still, I’m with you on people who judge Stephen King readers. Maybe it’s a double standard that I feel this way. If so, I’ll own up to it.

    • In my head, I’m a judgey judgerson. I’m in complete agreement with you. But I try SO HARD not to say it to their faces. Because that’s just so mean! And their faces just fall, because they know I’m a book person…and I hate to do that to someone. I know, surprise, I hate hurting people’s feelings! :)

  11. Yeah, bitter-beer face commercials, those were really funny. But damn, girl, that wasn’t all that long ago! What about the Artesian’s commercials of the 80s? Those were hilarious. Or the talking frogs – when were those, mid 1990s? Beer commercials are always awesome, that’s for sure… :-)

    And I’m with you – loved this post. :-) A friend of mine and I were just talking about the fact she admitted to liking Twilight on her page and I teased her about reading the 50 Shades books, too, but hey, if it gets people reading well, party on, Wayne, have fun with it.

    • I totally ripped a friend a new one for liking Twilight not that long ago. I still feel kind of terrible about it. (In my defense, he and I have history in being very snarky to one another…but it didn’t excuse my behavior. I kind of went over the top.)

  12. Man. You know what’s sad? Most of the critics…the critics in academia…wouldn’t give a shit that King writes Fantasy or Science Fiction. Those aren’t worthy either! Genres are not worthy! The only worthy King would be On Writing, to be used in Freshman composition courses. That’s it. We’re not converting them. For god’s sake, they probably think Tolkien is trash. And he was one of them!

    Meanwhile, in terms of being judgy…I try not to be (though it happens from time to time). When it does, I have to think to myself “At least they’re reading!” Reading is beneficial and admirable no matter what, even if it is Dan Brown. Maybe Dan Brown or Meyer or even The goddamed Secret are like a gateway drug, and their readers will realize that books are cool and venture out to others. You have to start somewhere. I mean I read Fear Street and Sweet Valley before King, and King led me to other writers. I even tried Koontz (and am proud to say that at 12 I already had developed a critical eye and decided he was a poor use of my reading time. The snob was born at 12!)

    • That’s true (although I have to wonder if some people WILL ever gateway past to something else…sadly, some won’t.) I also realized Koontz wasn’t worth my time early on! Although I loved the one about the dog that could communicate, whatever that was called. And I did read a few in the Odd Thomas series, but didn’t continue on.

        • Ugh, YES. I tried one of his books in…late high school? Early college? I don’t know if I even finished it. He wasn’t for me. Not at all.

          • I read him a bit in middle school and was all WTF. Some of it was really bad and some of it was interesting but not that good. I felt like he should have been writing YA almost except for all the sex.

  13. Are you ready? I’m about to blow your mind. I’ve never actually read anything by Stephen King. It’s not that I think he’s too popular or “I don’t like horror.” It’s because every time I’ve read a synopsis it never sounds like something I’d enjoy.

    • I respect that. That’s not snobbery. There are a lot of authors I haven’t read simply because they’re not my thing. Doesn’t mean I think they’re bad, just means they’re not my type of authors. John Grisham, just to name one. I hate law thrillers. So I’ve never read one of his books. Doesn’t mean I look down on people who read them, just means they’re not for me.

    • Hee! You’re definitely not the only one. I would have put my hubs in the same category, but he definitely tried to read The Stand (bless his heart.. SK is not his thing at all, but he still tried to read it).

  14. I totally got the “I don’t like horror” today when I mentioned I’m reading a King! He’s not stupid, cheesy, don’t look behind you big boobed blondie because the mean man is coming! His “horror” is intelligent, amazing, psychological, and did I say amazing?

    • I guess people assume all horror is the same? That’s all I can think of. But there’s good and bad in any genre. Just for an example, I don’t love ALL chick lit, but there are certain chick lit authors I’ll always read, you know?

  15. Pingback: Stephen King Week: What Stephen King means to me. | Insatiable Booksluts

  16. I was a librarian for 30 years – seen all kinds of readers – my mantra- “Never apologize for what you read” – don’t make fun of anyone else’s reading cause, damn!, they are reading.

  17. I grew up on Stephen King. My parents were (are) huge fans and I too was about junior high age when I read my first SK book. My parents were very liberal. I was reading John Saul at age 10. I totally agree with you about The Face. It irks the shit out of me. I like what Jeanne said, just above me, “Never apologize for what you read.” I don’t…ever. And I like Twilight. ;O)

    Oh, The Dark Tower read-a-long…I had to combine week two and three check-ins because I got behind (doh!) so Friday’s post will be for Ch. 2 and 3 of The Gunslinger. I hope you’re still with us.

    • Oh, I don’t know which of us is doing the readalong, either! Hmm, mysterious!

      My parents HATE him. Mom likes romances (but without sex or cussing) and Dad likes…television, I guess. I don’t know where my love of horror/sci-fi-fantasy came from. Kind of weird, actually!

    • It’s me! I’m doing the read-a-long! Although I did get just a WEE TINY BIT side-tracked with Insomnia and also this non-Stephen-King book (GASP, I KNOW) that I’m reading now called The Polish Boxer. Which is really good so far. Super good.

  18. I got invited to join a group on Facebook where people talk about books. It’s a small group, and I got invited because I know Bryan and he knows I like books. I don’t really belong there, though, because they are all much smarter than me, and read things like Blood Meridian and post articles from NPR and quotes from obscure authors who are dead now. Anyway, I never really participate in this group, aside from occasional comments. But today I posted this article on that page to see if I could get a discussion going about book snobbery.

    Shockingly (sarcasm anyone?) the comments turned into a massive amount of judginess and why YOU are wrong about Stephen King being awesome, and how much he sucks, aside from a few exceptions. Then one guy was like “what’s with her writing in all caps all the time?” I don’t know what I was thinking.

    Wait a minute. Hold the phone! The judgey guy just posted that he’s in no position to judge because he did weep at “A Walk to Remember.” Progress.

    Thanks for this post. It made my Friday morning completely unproductive, but entertaining and enlightening. :)

    • If you want, you can tell them that I wrote a post about Cormac McCarthy that is supposed to be getting published in a book–that might calm them down a little bit ;)

    • Oh, sigh. I’m not going to explain the all-caps to someone again. If he cares, it’s explained in the FAQ on my blog, but it’s obvious he wouldn’t care.

      I find it ironic that the whole post was about NOT being a judgmental asshole.

      I think you need to find a new book group. They’re not smarter than you. Don’t EVER think assholes like this are smarter than you. That’s what they WANT you to think. They’re elitist jackholes. You can do better. Loving literature isn’t about who can hoard the most obscure quotes like a dragon and his gold. Fuck ‘em all, sincerely. Or, would they prefer I stated that in more literary-quotey terms? “Now I know the things I know, and I do the things I do; and if you do not like me so, to hell, my love, with you!” –Dorothy “Fuck ‘em All, I’m Fabulous As-Is” Parker.

  19. I used to DEVOUR Stephen King books when I was a teenager. The Shining, IT, The Stand…My favorite Stephen King-related story is how my dad wouldn’t let me watch the movie Christine (yes the one with the car) because he was afraid it was “too scary” and “too violent” for me. I had just finished a reread of Different Seasons. If he had known what was in that book he would have had kittens. LOLOL. I stopped reading King years ago when I realized I’m really a scaredy-cat and maybe the regular nightmares could stop if I stopped reading scary stories. LOLOL. He was the best part of EW magazine for a while, though. Love his writings. I also love that he admits (fairly regularly) how much he loves Nora Roberts’ books. He catches flak for reading “romance,” but as he tells it, a good story is a good story, no matter the genre.

    This whole post reminds me of the thing that shows up in BDSM books a lot “My kink isn’t necessarily your kink.” That’s exactly what this is. Do I roll my eyes at the 50 Shades people, sure. But that’s because they usually preface telling me they’ve read it with “Wow. I guess books like this are finally getting published.” or “So now erotic books are going to go mainstream.” It’s more their idiotic ideas about books than the fact they read them. LOL. Personally, I had no desire to read the Stephanie Meyer books, so the fan fiction BDSM version of them holds little to no appeal.

    And yes, I’m WAAAAY late in commenting. What can I say?

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