Me? A Book Snob? No!

1:45 AM

Tonight I read what feels like the 200th post on being a book snob by an aspiring writer. And I’m a little bothered. Every blog post that I’ve read is almost always bashing what is considered Street Lit. There doesn’t seem to be any understanding on why these books are created, accepted, and read by people. The people who are claiming to not be book snobs are sounding more and more like such. 


I get it, urban fiction is not for everybody, and the reason(s) for that being that it hits too close to home, you’ve never  experienced what’s being described in these gritty tales, or maybe it‘s just not your cup of tea. I didn’t grow up in what some people would call the hood. I wasn’t subjected to drive-bys, drugs, gang activity, etc. But I was aware that all of this was going on around me. I was never sheltered from the dangers of living in a world that is not perfect. 


The first urban tale I ever read was The Coldest Winter Ever. I remember buying it because of the first few lines I read in the book:


       Brooklyn born I don’t have no sob stories for you about rats and roaches and pissy-pew hallways. I came busting out of my momma’s big coochie on Jaunary 28, 1977...


I stood in Barnes and Noble at the age of fifteen, my eyes were glued to the page because I had never read anything like that before. I didn’t even know people were reading or buying these types of books. I wanted to know more. Once I was finished reading that book I loaned it to a friend who loaned it to a friend. And before I knew it, my book was traveling all around my high school. I loved The Coldest Winter Ever (at the time). Not because it was a classic piece of literature, but because it was some young girl’s story. There are little girls out there growing up like Winter, and there are grown women who are the Winters of the world.


I can’t knock someone for writing someone else’s story. But apparently other people can. 


Not everyone going to be into James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Ntozake Shange, or Octavia Butler. Some people want to read Teri Woods, Keisha Ervin, Danielle Santiago, or Ashley & Jaquavis. I personally enjoy all of these authors, and I own at least one book from each. 


After I read CWE, I went an entire five or six years before I picked another urban novel. Not because I hated the book, but because I was angry. I hated the fact that out there, there was a young woman dating hustlers because she felt she needed to be taken care of. There was a young woman fighting in the streets because she felt like she was being disrespected. And there was a young girl who felt like she was just a pretty face, and she was going to use that pretty face to get everything she wanted in life rather than work for it. That fictional story is somebody’s story. So I can’t be mad at the authors who choose this genre to write for. I don’t support it as much as I do others, but that’s because a lot of the books are gritty tales that take you to dark places. And some of the authors write the dialogue between characters the way they would really talk, and I’m a stickler for grammar and sentence structure, so I can only take so much of that. But that is the way people talk, and I'll be honest, I cringe when I hear people speak this way or I'm reading it.


As an adult, I really can’t stand The Coldest Winter Ever. It just doesn’t appeal to me as a twenty five year old woman, but the fifteen year old me LOVED that damn book. I still own the copy I bought to replace the one that was passed around.


A lot of kids hate reading. They hate the thought of picking up a book and actually spending time reading words. So if a young man or lady picks up a book that just so happens to be what some call a waste of words, I’m happy. 


I applaud authors who write these novels because most of them had to hustle to get their books published. Taking money out of their own pockets because they believed in themselves when no one else did. Selling books out of the trunk of their cars. That’s a whole lot harder than writing a cover letter, and a synopsis and sending them off with chapters of your novel to agents and publishers and waiting to hear all of the nos while hoping for just one yes. Yes, I respect the hustle, because I don’t have that in me.


Are we going to get mad at authors who write romance novels next? Are we going to complain that it’s just not realistic? Who is next? What’s next on the list of, why are you even a writer? I don't like Sci-fi or fantasy, because I can't wrap my mind around these genres. But I don't knock the authors or readers of these books.


I’m not saying that the people who don’t consider themselves book snobs or even the ones who admit that they are, are wrong for their feelings. It's your opinion, your feelings. But don’t down someone’s efforts just because you don’t agree with them. You don’t have to like it, but at least respect it.


Now if we’re going to get mad about books, let’s talk about Steve Harvey, Snooki, Tyrese, Rev Run, Britney Spears…never mind, we won’t talk about them. But I won’t support that, I know that much.

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