I had a conversation at work that was particularly frustrating. The higher up colleague who shalt not be named was talking about a beach vacation that he had just gotten back from and how he only got about 20 pages into his book. Mind you, the colleague doesn’t really know me all that well since I’m new but he does know I like to read.
Me: Oh man, I have to at least get 2-3 books read while on the beach to feel relaxed. (not in a braggart way at all..he knows I’m obsessed with reading)
Colleague: Yeah, well that’s because I ACTUALLY socialize.
Me: *shudders* I talked to my family on vacation and played with the kids and did a lot of things…
Colleague: How can you do both?
Me: I just can. I make it a priority…
This conversation, while not really a big deal, just irked me because it seems like there is always that stereotype of readers as being the most anti-social people in the world. I’m sure it is true for some people but I don’t think it is something that is inherent of all readers. You cannot say that all anti-social people are readers nor are all readers anti-social. It’s just not so. I do not spend every waking minute of the day with my nose in a book..shutting out the world. While that is a famous position you can see me in, I have a fiance, friends, family and many many activities outside of reading. I am a very active person and LOVE LOVE LOVE to talk. Ask anyone who has met me in person!
I remember in elementary school and middle school hating being called “a reader.” Being a “reader” didn’t just mean liking to read when you are growing up. I remember that “reader” had the label as a loser, a “smart person (because God forbid you be smart!) or a shy loner. I don’t know if this happened to others but when I was younger and reading become “not cool” anymore..I usually kept that dirty little secret to myself. But WHY the labels when you say that you are a reader? Seriously? Just because I like to read books doesn’t mean I shut the world out or that I have some social disorder..just like you liking to cook doesn’t automatically mean you must be fat.
I’ve said it before during Book Blogger Appreciation Week, that I love how technology has evolved reading from a largely solitary activity into a social activity like never before. I can read a book and that talk about it on Twitter, blog about it and talk through comments, share my thoughts on Goodreads, participate in group reads or reading challenges, etc. etc. I can go to book signings and events like BEA and meet authors and other readers and just socialize until the cows come home. And the beauty of it all is that, while most of those conversations start about books, they move into other areas of interests and a level of personal sharing. Being a reader has probably made me MORE social than I ever was before. I’m not afraid to go to a book signing by myself and strike up a conversation with someone I don’t even know because we clearly like the same book. And obviously everyone is not like me. Some people ARE less social or more quiet and reserved.. and they happen to be readers. We read. Get over it. It doesn’t mean we are anything you THINK we are…we are just people who have better hobbies than you 😛
Anyone else have any similar experiences with people thinking that being a reader makes you anti-social or quiet or weird? What other stereotypes do you feel get attached to readers? WHY the thinking that reading is so uncool? Do you think the rise in popularity of YA books & how “mainstream” they’ve become (being especially propelled by the success of Harry Potter and Twilight) helps to make reading “cooler” in the eyes of children and teens?