When You’re Ashamed of What You’re Reading

So, we’ll start at the beginning –

Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner wrote a post in August that resonated with me – I Got The Message Loud & Clear: Reading Isn’t Cool. I’m sure at some point in every Book Geek’s life they’ve faced the odd looks, sniggers and maybe even bullying over the fact that they like love to read. Thankfully, the notion that reading isn’t cool seems to wear off as we get older, these days people practically admire the fact that I enjoy reading and studying (or maybe I’m just comfortable enough with my hobbies not to care what others’ think anymore).

belle not caring gif

Following on from this idea that reading in general isn’t cool, there has been a flurry of posts over the last few months (including The Reading Police Do Not ExistYes, I’m Reading A Romance, So? and Life’s Too Short For That) discussing “guilty pleasures”. Guilty pleasures are basically defined as:

  1. The books you wouldn’t want to be seen reading in public.
  2. The books you don’t want admit you love (or even own), and/or
  3. The books you hide away on your lowest shelves in the hopes no one else will ever find them.

People who don’t even read themselves will look down their nose at others for reading romances, erotica, YA and children’s books, to name just a few. But worst of all, fellow Book Geeks do it too! Can’t you just feel the judgement?

Blair Waldorf Judging You Gif

Where am I going with this?

Quite a while ago I discussed some of my favourite childhood books on this blog, and mentioned how annoyed I was at myself for giving away full sets of children’s and YA series when I hit my awkward teen years, because reading wasn’t cool anymore/I was sure I’d never want to read them again/I was far too old and mature for those stories now *delete as appropriate*.

Roald Dahl BooksIt’s only when I got back into reading again a few years ago, and started blogging, that I realised I missed having these books in my collection (now that I actually have what you could call a collection), and I missed having the opportunity to read them. So, after much persuasion and encouragement from fellow bloggers, I tracked down a 15 book Roald Dahl set for £15. The collection included most of Dahl’s popular books, with Quentin Blake’s original illustrations (the best, in my opinion). The set was brand new, I got some discount off and free delivery. It was a steal.

A good friend came to my house last week (who also reads, but not at Book Geek level), spotted the set and said something (jokingly) along the lines of, “Are you being serious? It’s getting a bit out of hand now.” Shamefully, I told a bit of a porkie and said the set was for my Nephew for Christmas! I’m not usually the type to be phased by other people’s opinions, especially when it’s a friend, but for some reason the judgmental tone made me feel really embarrassed about my reading choices! Now though, I kind of feel bad for not growing a pair and proudly declaring them as mine, and I feel like I should buy my Nephew a set so it wasn’t technically a lie (if only he was a reader!).

Have you ever felt that you had to deny ownership of any beloved books? Have others ever made you question your reading choices? And do you keep your “guilty pleasures” hidden, or do you admit to them loud and proud?? Share your love for the weird and wonderful in the comments, and get liberated!!

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About Rachel

Avid reader & book blogger. Lover of Business. A fan of drinks & dancing. Ever optimistic. Feminist.

35 Responses

  1. Are you so ashamed of what you’re reading you can’t handle actually writing a post about it? haha.

    I’m assuming this was a scheduling error or something, but I’m looking forward to this post when you do write it 🙂

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  2. Heh. My guilty pleasure was/is the first two books in the Twilight series. I get judged all the time for that, but I usually (reluctantly) admit to it. Especially when someone is bashing the books. Now the movies? Awful. The last two books? Weird. *shrug*

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  3. Nope. I have never and will never care what other people think about my book obsession. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up with parents who have always supported me and my passions (and it doesn’t hurt that my dad is a huge bibliophile too). I get strange looks when I’m reading in public (but I also get them for different reasons), but I just ignore them. I love what I love and if other people don’t get it, that sucks for them. I don’t think you should be ashamed of what you like to read, Rachel. And that Roald Dahl set sounds freaking amazing.
    I write all kinds of reviews on my blog – YA, children’s, comics, adult – and I’ve always just read what I liked. 🙂

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  4. I don’t hide my reading per se. I do try to read things that might be a bit suss on my Kindle though- I wouldn’t go about reading 120 Days of Sodom on public transport (or anywhere at all, for that matter…but you get the idea!) Or anything romance, erotic or whatever. I guess I’m a bit conscious of my image…. but it would be so awkward!

    I got bullied badly through school for reading, so even now I kind of go on the defensive if someone questions my book collection or why I love it so much. I’m a bit short on space so many of my secret loves are packed away, but I don’t care what people think of my books in my own home!

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  5. I was thinking about these kinds of posts just yesterday! Recently I have begun to realise (in all aspects of my life) that feeling guilty or ashamed about any of my hobbies just isn’t worth it. Is it hurting anybody? No. Does it make me happy? Yes. Therefore, no shame. I totally understand the wish that you would have stood up for yourself, but I also understand why you didn’t. Simply, sometimes it’s harder to be loud and proud with people we care for because we don’t want to start conflict.
    Also, I am insanely jealous of that Roald Dahl set. It really is a steal!

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  6. I used to be snotty over erotica, and still am because most of it is total shit. But then I caved in and read Black Dagger Brotherhood, and I liked it a lot. It has a back story, not just mindless banging, and it’s tastefully done, when there are sex scenes. So I got over it. I got so over it I bought some other free eroticas online, and then proved myself right not everything is a good book. So now I mostly check out recommendations from other bloggers.
    I was never ashamed of my love for kids’ books. My family is still saying how I am too old for HP, but I just tell them to suck it. My cousin got into HP at 28 and is now crazy obsessed. It happens. Age does not spoil a good book! Which I keep telling them. IMO, MG books are often totally awesome and quite better than YA or NA. Which is why I am going to get me my fave childhood book series soon – Famous Five.

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  7. I have felt like this too. I read all sorts of books covering many different genres and age groups. But I’m also a huge fan of romances. And I own a lot. And I keep them on a shelf in my closet, where no one can see them. And I hate that I do that, but I know I’m not going to move them.

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  8. Brandie

    I’m known by most of my friends as a ‘smut’ lover. I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I don’t really care what people think of me or what I’m reading. I used to think I had to keep it on the down low, but lately, especially with the fact that erotica has become so popular, I don’t hide it anymore. As long as a person is reading for enjoyment, that is all that matters. It shouldn’t matter WHAT they read, and other people shouldn’t criticize or judge, either.

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  9. Luckily I outgrew being embarrassed by everything and now I don’t really care what people see me reading. (Since I don’t read romance, (personal choice not judging those who do) but some of those covers might embarrass me!) Well next time someone sees your books you’ll stick up for them. 😀 I’m sure they’ll forgive you. (The books not the friend)

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  10. I completely get what you’re saying and it’s terrible when you find yourself having to deny reading a book because you’re embarrassed about what others think. I think I always feel a bit embarrassed about reading Meg Cabot books, also NA books, those are the books I read, but tell no one I’m reading I think. And romance novels, any and all of them, I like to keep those on the dl.

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