Literary Snobbery and Trying to Build a Reading List

The other night I almost lost it. Over a year ago, my book club read The Unwanted: Stories of Syrian Refugees by Don Brown. Only three of us had ever read a graphic novel so when time came to recommend new books, I put this one out there.

If you don’t know The Unwanted, the first thing you need to realize is that it is a Sibert Honor title. This book places in the ALA awards.

And yet, one woman very vocally complains about it. Still.

It is, plain and simple, a case of literary snobbery.

I’m not sure why it surprises me when I encounter this. After all, I write for young readers. I write nonfiction.

When people find this out I get all kinds of responses. Of course, 90% are excited or supportive. These comments are from people who loves books and reading. What can I say? I spend a lot of time at the library and at bookstores. I normally enjoy being around people who read.

But there are other less supportive responses. “Oh, you’re still writing for children. Maybe you could try writing Oprah books.” No. No, I could not.

The one that always stumps me is “Have you written anything I’ve read?” I don’t know. You tell me.

Right now the problem is that we are getting ready to choose the 2023 reading list for book club. The person who is snobby about graphic novels is threatening to make us read a romance. Why? She knows I’m not a huge fan.

But really? Is that a smart game to play with me? She thought she was being clever. “We’ll only let Sue recommend something that is on her bedside table.”

We each get to recommend two books. I’m tempted to include How the Mountains Grew: A New Geological History of North America by John Dvorack. It is on my bedside table after all.

I’m joking – I think. I’m not really sure what I’ll recommend. What I do know is that literary snobs make me grouchy.


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