My Taste Is Better Than Yours!

26 Apr

So Anna told me a story that made me do this:


Anna works in a bookstore. The other day, she waited on a customer who was haunting the Paranormal Romance section. She approached, asked the lady if she could help her, and the woman insisted “she’d read all of them”. Before I go any further, I want you to ponder how much vampire pron that must be – all of the paranormal romance. That’s a lot of deep-dickin’! Anyway, so Anna (being a friendly Anna) strikes up a conversation. The end result was something like this:

My son is lazy and doesn’t work and blah blah blah, and he needs to grow up. I mean, he reads SCIENCE FICTION for crying out loud.



W. T. F.

First things first, I used to read a lot of romance. I adored bodice rippers, and holy crap did I eat up Teresa Medeiros, Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsey, and Jude Deveraux. As I consider myself a pretty smart lady, I’d like to think I’d fit in well with these gals over here. I am not turning my nose up at Paranormal Romance Woman or Sci Fi Fan. What I’m wondering, though, is how the /fuck/ did Sci Fi dude end up – in Paranormal Lady’s humble estimation – ranking any lower on the ridiculous scale than she does?


(Okay, done with the vampire fucking thing now. I swear.)

This whole debacle comes hot on the heels of the Game of Thrones controversy from last week, wherein two generally well respected reviewers (Gina Bellafante from the NY Times and Troy Patterson from Slate) took huge swipes at not only the fantasy genre, but its fan base too, essentially being condescending douchebags in tone and delivery. Bellafante decided she’d speak for all women – always a mistake – about how HBO was cow-towing to them with that whole romantic QUASI-RAPE THING, and Patterson decided to let us know that he canceled a date in college with a girl who went to Ren Faires (fuck you, dude, I look pretty smokin’ hot in a bodice) because Ren Faire people are odd and strange and . . . whatever.

Okay, getting it over with now: it’s okay to not like something. It’s not okay to pull intellectual and . . . I dunno, nerd superiority? Over HOW PEOPLE SPEND TIME IN MAKE BELIEVE LAND. That’s what we’re all doing when we pick up a book, ain’t it? Strapping on a hat and prancing off to Make Believe Land with Mr. Rogers. My Make Believe Land has a lot of vampires – even vampire fuckers – and a few gods, someone else’s has an ex-CIA agent with a lot of guns. Someone else’s has a triceratops, and someone else’s has tentacle aliens from the unknown. And don’t think for one second Make Believe Land relates just to fiction: historical re-enactments from the civil war send people back a hundred and fifty years. Titanic books put people under the sea, and books about planes? Send ’em up in the air, piloting like a son of a bitch. Sure, that stuff’s real and Swamp Beast From Hell is not, but until we have:

– time machines
– the ability to go below the sea with Greg Ballard
– the funding to purchase our own private jets

Guess what? WELCOME TO MAKE BELIEVE LAND. Your imagination is taking you somewhere you can’t be, regardless of whether said brain fodder left a carbon imprint on our world. (A side note, sometimes your non-fiction ends up being more fabricated than your fiction anyway. Thanks Greg Mortenson! You ruined everything! But that’s a post for another day. /grumble)

Books exist to entertain. Books exist to feed our brains. Take us away, Calgon: fiction, non-fiction, if a book is purchased for the purpose of entertainment, its primary function is to shepherd us Elsewhere. So why do people feel the need to point at another person’s Elsewhere and go “Nah, that’s silly, but this book here about the history of golf is A-OKAY”! Fuck you, that’s why. No, not you Reader With A Clue, but everyone who takes a stab at a genre and dismisses it as ridiculous. If you don’t like something because it’s not compelling to you, fine, but shitting all over an entire section of your local bookstore or library is self-inflated and stupid. It’s also taking slaps at the fans of those genres. From my own experience? Fantasy and sci-fi people are polite, nice folks. They’re well read, they’re smart, and if something’s good they recommend the hell out of it to their friends. That bolsters sales and keeps publishing going. I don’t see why that’s a crime. As an aspiring author? I won’t see why that’s a crime. Oh, and just so we’re clear? I don’t read a lot of fantasy, and I don’t think I’ve ever read a sci-fi book, but I respect their fans because they’re a gem of a community. Other fan bases could learn a lot from ’em.

I’m probably preaching to the choir on a lot of this stuff, and that’s okay. Most people with a clue don’t actually sneer at others based upon their romance/sci fi/horror tastes (unless you’re Nicholas Sparks, who apparently got his panties in a twist because someone dared categorize his books as romance. HOLY SHIT, YOU WRITE LOVE STORIES AND PEOPLE CALLED IT ROMANCE? NO WAY.). However, if you do find yourself about to turn on the “OH MY GOD WHAT A LOSER (S)HE IS FOR LIKING _________” . . . please. Please, please, please stop. Don’t try and pretend your shitty taste and opinion is somehow better than anyone else’s, or that a genre leaning makes you cool. Liking intellectual literary fiction doesn’t mean you’re Aristotle. It means you read literary fiction. That’s it. I’d say the same thing for Sci-Fi fans who cop attitude: reading fiction about space doesn’t make you Mr. Hawking. It means you like spaceship books. Alternatively, reading romance doesn’t make you stupid and girly-cute, and reading sword-and-board fantasy doesn’t mean you’re socially awkward and smell like Cheetohs. No one is more or less because of their tastes.

As for those professional reviewers, well, if you have a bias towards a genre going into it? DON’T REVIEW IT. If a reviewer can’t fairly compare and contrast a book/show/movie to similar offerings without sounding like a twat waffle, passing on the review and reviewing something more in their wheelhouse is likely the smart thing to do. You know, instead of making yourself sound like a Hatorade drinking douchebag. And for the Paranormal Romance lady who thinks her son’s a weirdo for reading sci fi? Well, babe, I dunno what to tell you other than I hope you feel all self-assured and superior when you get down with that questionable werewolf beastiality stuff. Uhh. Sing it, Sister. Or something.

Also, I Still Think Patterson's Dumb. Corset Chicks Rule.


17 Responses to “My Taste Is Better Than Yours!”

  1. Siobhan April 27, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    Ha ha ha hilarious post. A grown woman reading books which are primarily aimed at teenagers then saying her son needs to grow up with no hint of irony? Don’t get me wrong, I like YA fiction myself of occasion, but I don’t tell people that their reading tastes are immature and under developed.

    • Anna April 27, 2011 at 10:22 am #

      In general, I agree about the irony, but I’m pretty sure that most of the Paranormal section isn’t aimed at teens. There is, in fact, an entire set of Young Adult novels that are paranormals, but they go over with the rest of the Young Adult stuff (Vampire Diaries, Blue Bloods, etc.)

      Paranormal Romance is aimed at adult women, just like the rest of the Romance genre, and depending on the book, can be anything from mildly romantic to quite pornographic (just like the rest of the Romance genre). The YA stuff tends to be closer to YA Fantasy, only with vampire teenagers instead of regular teenagers (or magic teenagers, etc), but all doing and suffering from typical teenager things – like high school – rather than adult women things – like jobs and families and such.

  2. Arrens April 27, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    In list form, here’s Three Things Steve Took Away From This Post:

    1) Thank GOD I don’t work in retail.

    2) LOL Hill reads vampire fucking novels.


    • Hillary April 27, 2011 at 9:12 am #

      I actually don’t read Paranormal Romance mostly because . . . I don’t think to pick it up. But let’s be realistic here: Anne Rice counts in a lot of ways, and yes her vampires do the nasty. So.

      • Itanya Blade April 27, 2011 at 11:39 am #

        Ummm.. So I read the Black Dagger Brotherhood novels.

        And I usually hate romances. Okay, I read them cause I have a co-worker feeding them to me and I haven’t picked up a book in a few years that was new.

        But hey, they’re enjoyable.

      • Arrens April 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

        I’ve read a few of her books and simply can’t get into it. If it isn’t Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, it’s simply not for me when it comes to the vamp genre.


      • Itanya Blade April 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

        Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula is awesome, Arrens. You should try those.

    • Caulle April 27, 2011 at 11:48 am #

      lol boobs. I already knew Hill will read anything, so I took boobs away as well.

  3. ILikeBubbles April 27, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    It’s true, bodices are awesome. My boything may not share my love for the fantasy genre or even all of the Ren Faire sillyness, but he recognizes it as a damned fine place for tatas.

  4. falconesse April 27, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    Amber’s presence in this thread has inspired me to drag out the Geek Hierarchy Flowchart again. (<3!)

    RIP, Brunching Shuttlecocks

    • Zachary April 27, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      I did a panel on this chart at I-Con. Our generalized analysis was:

      Job > hobby
      … but if you aren’t making money with it, Passing interest > depth of knowledge
      Real > unreal (what is “real” varies wildly based on the observer…)
      “Clean” > sexualization
      Adult > child-oriented (somewhat contrary to prior point, I know)
      Widespread > obscurity and/or personalization

      Of course, after being put-upon often enough, subcultures develop shells and prop themselves up as superior to everyone who doesn’t share their love for Mary Sue Pokemon space vampire slash.

    • Tami April 28, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      I think there’s kind of a little bit of me in every square on that tree.

  5. Anna April 27, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    The urge to say “You’re standing in the aisle full of vampire humping, and you’re dissing Sci Fi?” was VERY STRONG.

    I actually had to excuse myself for a few moments and have a good giggle about it in the back, to avoid snarking at the customer. (I’m also not sure she ever went over to the Sci Fi aisle to get the books she was supposedly looking for to give her “deadbeat son”)

    • Itanya Blade April 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

      I am more amused that you have an aisle just have of Vampire Humping

      • Anna April 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

        Yep! Not a whole aisle really, but about half of one. We realized when Paranormals took off in popularity that it made a lot of sense to group them together, so they have their own section. I try to keep it full, since its one of our best selling paperback genres, especially in the summer!


  1. Here’s To You, Judy Mays « Seven Deadly Divas - May 1, 2011

    […] would have reported about this earlier, but well . . . I think I’d just posted a rant about people taking swipes at other book fans, and really? TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING AND ALL. The good thing in this case being Hee-Ree. No, […]

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