There’s a certain pressure in the world of reading. A pressure that anyone who reads often, and likes to give anything a try, will feel. This is the pressure of a famous book. The pressure to love, or hate, something based on it’s fame.
Last year, I decided I wanted to read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5. I had heard about it a lot, especially when it comes to the famous “so it goes” line. It’s an older book, but people everywhere are still raving about it. I didn’t like it that much. It’s not that I didn’t like it because it was weird, I often love weird. It just didn’t seem as though-provoking and emotional as so many reviews claimed it was. At times, I found it a little boring.
Did I tell anybody what I really thought of Slaughterhouse 5? Nope. When my friends expressed interest in reading it I told them they definitely should-it was pretty awesome. I told them it was classic everyone should read.
Why did I lie? I was afraid of being judged for not liking a famous book. I was afraid that if I told people I didn’t like the book (or any other famous work), they would accuse me of not understanding what good literature really is. They would accuse me of being uneducated about books. Even now as I write this there’s a fear that someone is going to comment accusing me of these exact things.
This is why I think we need to get over this pressure of liking (or hating) something just because it’s famous. Not everyone should have to love Slaughterhouse 5 just because it has gathered a reputation for being great. Not everyone should have to hate Twilight just because people say it’s terrible writing.
At 14 I was a huge Twilight fan. And I’m not ashamed of that. When I read the books now, I don’t really enjoy them that much. My tastes have changed. But I’m not about to go around accusing parent’s of bad parenting because they let their children read it, and tweens of being uneducated idiots because they like it (yes I have heard this online. Usually from the same people who claim to have read and totally understood War and Peace at 14).
There shouldn’t be shame in liking books that people who claim to know great literature say are bad and disliking books that these same people say are good. People have different tastes and different things that speak to them. I think some people need to get off their “I know what’s good” high horse and let everyone like what they like and hate what they hate.
That’s how literature is supposed to work anyway.
Let me know what you think about this issue in the comments!