Hello there Reflections fans. It’s been a little while since I’ve graced the pages of this blog with a Living With a Book Addict series post, so I figured I’d remedy that today. The subject of my post is genre, and although this is a wide-ranging topic that could encompass genre analysis, genre stereotypes, or any other form of analysis, I shall limit myself to the act of being a genre snob, and what it has done to my reading habits. I will define said snobbery shortly.
First, the inspiration for this post must go to Reddit. I spend a good amount of time on Reddit, much to Kimberly’s chagrin, but when the top post today encompassed books (here it is), neither of us could argue the fact that our two favorite pastimes had collided. I think that this particular bookstore’s idea in covering their books with brown paper and only giving clues to the genre and plot of the book is clever. It prevents cover stereotyping, and to a lesser extent genre stereotyping. For example, if you happened to have a particular bias against historical fiction, but noticed the words “manhunt”, “assassination attempt”, and “President”, you could very well be picking up a current Tom Clancy thriller as a historical fiction book about Lincoln’s assassination. The point is, both contain similar elements of suspense, action, and stately Presidents, but the latter just happens to be set in the past, hence historical fiction. What someone would originally dismiss purely based on genre alone could actually be quite similar to a book that he or she actually likes. It’s expanding the old adage of judging a book based on its cover and expanding it to cover a wider meaning. Because genres aren’t explicitly spelled out, often it’s harder to realize that genre stereotyping is happening, although often one does so based on a perceived opinion about a particular genre.
As far as my own personal involvement with genre stereotyping (or snobbery, as it may be) goes, I have to admit that I always stuck up my nose at the romance genre. I thought that no matter how you dressed it up, you would eventually get to the sappy and syrupy core of a boring romance between two individuals which would make me bored out of my mind and ready to throw the book out. In fact just the other day, however, Kim was describing a new crime-based series to me authored by Marie Force (the Fatal Series). I seemed quite interested in the books, until she reminded me that Force was primarily a romance writer. My thoughts immediately soured, although I thought back to my original interest in the series. I was being just as shallow as those who don’t read a book based on a cheesy cover. I should give it a try. I will give it a try. And thus begins my start as a recovering genre snob.