Judging Other People’s Books

I have a close friend, whom I adore, except we can’t talk about books: we never agree. Not that agreement is necessary, but disagreement about books among friends has a sumo quality to it.

ender's gameShe thinks Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is seminal. I hate it. I prefer the Alvin Maker series, which she sees as fluff (and wanted to build a hex sign in my garden out of herbs).

And that’s just the Orson Scott Card Conversation. Let us not even go down The East of Eden Road (Me: “feh,” Her: “seminal”) or explore the Their Eyes Were Watching God Kerfuffle. (She: “bored;” Me: “raptured.”)

I really love and respect this woman how can we be leading such separate parallel reading lives? I’m so full of judgement. Why doesn’t she like Their Eyes Were Watching God, goddamnit? There is no accounting for taste.

I love the Sweet Potato Queens. I also am trying to read the Georgics of Virgil. Go figure. Who am I to be judgey? The last thing I read was a tear-jerker about the fate of the tuna fish. Who am I to roll my eyes when someone mentions urban fantasy and China Mieville (I tried so hard to be in to Kraken because I love giant squid;) be snarky when it comes to Jonathan Safran Foer, even though the first few chapters of Everything Is Illuminated had me bent over snorting with laughter, and I said to someone this guy’s a genius, but then, suddenly, he got on my nerves.

Who am I to identify genius? What I’m good at is identifying what I like.

It’s different from what you like, and even though I think it’s goofy you’re into speculative fiction like what if Neanderthals had survived and you think it’s “cute” that I’m really in to modern shamanist practices, surely we can come from either side of the isles of the bookstore and still be friends.


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