No, I’m Not Reading Your Favorite Book

I’m in possession of a piece of news that might come as a bit of a shock. I debated lifting the lid from this Pandora’s box, but ultimately, I feel obligated to share. Okay… here it goes. Do try to prepare yourself.

There are people who couldn’t care less about your favorite book.

Now, pick your jaw up from the ground and listen up. Everybody is uninterested in certain topics or genres. End of story. I don’t care if they’re the best thing to happen to the literary world since William ‘Billy’ Shakespeare, there is stuff I’m simply not reading. I’m especially not reading it if an extremely enthusiastic fan (i.e., you) makes it their mission in life to pester convert me.

Let’s get all cliché-y for a second here: we all have our own taste. Those tastes are, of course, informed by our culture and upbringing. I fully endorse expanding our literary horizons by submerging ourselves into books written by and about people who don’t look or think exactly like us. It’s a wonderful way to grow up and develop empathy.

However.

If somebody doesn’t like sci-fi or fantasy, then somebody doesn’t like sci-fi or fantasy. Period. It’s all right to have personal tastes and dislike certain things, and it is not anybody’s place to try to convert us. Kind of like shoes: I love high heels. My sister hates them. Neither of us is about to try and change each other’s mind. This begs the question: why do so many of us feel it necessary to trail around after someone, making a nuisance of ourselves, just so that they will give a certain book a try? Is it because we want to share this wonderful story we loved? Or is it something else, something more closely linked to ego? Do we need other people to love our favorite books simply because we need the validation? I think it’s a little of both.

My favorite books feel a bit like extensions of myself. I recommend them to people I love all the time, because I want them to feel the same magic that I did while reading them. And when somebody says, “eh, it sounds boring,” my knee-jerk reaction isn’t, “oh okay, cool, maybe this other book is more your style.” It’s more along the lines of HOW DARE YOU DISS ME LIKE THAT I THOUGT WE WERE FRIENDS GET OUT OF MY HOUSE. Such a reaction is not only completely beyond the realms of reason, it also misses the point of literature by a long shot.

Art is meant to be available to everyone. It is not, however, meant to be consumed by everyone. The richness of literature, and by extension art, lies in its variety. There is literally something for everybody. If we truly want to share the charm of these stories, then when somebody declines to read something you suggested, then don’t get offended, and by all that is holy, don’t get persistent. Frankly, nagging someone to read a book they’re adamantly uninterested in is the fastest way to ensure they will preemptively hate it. Instead, ask them what they do like and try to offer books that fit those parameters. Or simply let them find their own beloved stories on their own. It might make the experience even more magical for them.

TL,DR: Do not harass people into reading your favorite books. Their not wanting to doesn’t say anything about you personally, I promise. Let them go their merry way, reading what they want to, and you can happily reread your copy of Game of Thrones without any feelings getting hurt.

Annotated brings you the story of love, punctuation, and the Oxford comma. Download it for free on Apple Podcasts or Google Play.
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