20 Annoying Things People Say About Readers and Reading

Every reader I know has been on the business end of some anti-reading smack talk. I’m not sure what it is about the act of reading that invites criticism from non-readers, but I’ve heard some pretty outlandish commentary in my time.

The proverbial cherry on top was when I worked as a circulation assistant at my local library right before starting graduate school. I was excited to go to the Friends of the Library sale and pick up some steals. Who wouldn’t be? An hour later, when I walked out of the sale with a bag of 14 great finds, a co-worker…an actual library professional…said, “Seriously? You need to get a life. If you have time to read all of those books, that’s not a life at all.”

She’s lucky I didn’t go full-on Wolverine and scratch her eyes out. Instead, I blogged about it. Several times over the years, in fact, and that little turning point helped push me to be an outspoken reader.

I read, we read, and it’s a damn fine life.

Thanks to my fellow Rioters who put their own experiences into the list.

  1. Readers are antisocial.
  2. Readers don’t know how to enjoy books and not criticize them.
  3. Audiobooks don’t count.
  4. Reading…again?
  5. You can’t possibly remember anything when you read that fast.
  6. Fiction isn’t real, so don’t bother with it.
  7. That much escapism isn’t healthy!
  8. Didn’t you already read that book?
  9. You’re reading African literature. Is that some sort of fetish thing?
  10. Do you really need more books?
  11. Isn’t a book club like going back to school again?
  12. If you buy any more books you’re gonna be on that Hoarders show.
  13. Books just look a bit untidy, don’t they? (e.g. when they’re on the shelf)
  14. Books are difficult to clean, aren’t you worried about the dust?
  15. Books are actually bad for the environment (those poor trees).
  16. Books aren’t fun to buy for people who don’t read a lot. Wouldn’t you like some scented candles for your birthday instead?
  17. But why are you reading it if it’s making you cry?
  18. Once you’ve read one of those crime/sci-fi/YA novels you’ve read them all.
  19. If you love books so much, why don’t you write one? (as if all readers are failed writers)
  20. Not something they say specifically, but when they say they don’t like reading and then get annoyed if they ever hear you talking about books ever again. Happens all the goddamn time.

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