Discussion: Genre Shaming… A Crime?

I’ve decided to try and bring more discussions to my blog, since I find them super interesting when other people do them, and so today we’re going to talk about a topic which I found interesting after hearing about it on Twitter…. Genre Shaming.

I hadn’t ever really thought about genre shaming in the past, because I didn’t really realize that it was a thing.  After I heard about it for the first time, I instantly got on the lookout for examples because I wanted proof that this shaming truly existed.  I was (sort of) shocked at how often YA books are called “less than” and how often the term “guilty read” gets tossed around.  And then I realized that I am far from innocent of doing this.  Since I was little, I would intermix my cliche high school novels with classics that I deemed better literary material.  Even in last week’s blog post, I defined summer reading books as “beach reads” then promptly decreed that books that take on issues or aren’t light and fluffy don’t fit this description.

But is it a bad thing to consider some books as “less” than others?

I adore “easy” read YA books, and I’ll certainly always include them on my TBR.  After all, reading would get boring if you didn’t include some books that you could fly through in just days and that leave a smile on your face.  However, they are not as intellectually stimulating as other books, such as literary fiction and classics.  I’m not saying that makes YA books any worse than lit fic, I’m just saying that it doesn’t provide as much educational value as “education” is traditionally defined.

Still, does that give us a right to shame people who read certain genres? or change the definition of reader so that it doesn’t include those who read only certain types of books?

My short answer on the subject would be no.

I don’t think it’s possible for books of literary merit to exist without having some books that are there PURELY FOR FUN.  And, not to mention, people, especially teenagers, need books with characters that they can relate to.  And recently, more and more YA books are taking on important issues in society.  They may be written to be more accessible for the average reader, but they aren’t afraid of teaching and taking stances as well.

By telling someone that they aren’t a true “book lover” because they choose Sarah Dessen over Charlotte Bronte is hurting the bookish community as a whole.  Not to mention the fact that some books that considered easier reads can have the most powerful messages as well as influence the reader.  While reading classics and other “good” books, there is often very little representation of minority groups, teens and younger, independent women, or lifestyles that would make sense to today’s generation of readers.  In order to find a role model in literature, it is often necessary to turn towards contemporary prints.

That brings me to my main point.  We, as a bookish community, cannot afford to be judging and shaming each other for the types of books we decide to read.  WE ARE TOO FEW IN NUMBER TO AFFORD OSTRACIZING EACH OTHER.  Look, the book community should be close, and for the most part we are, but those among us who consider themselves superior just due to the type of books that they read are seriously, seriously wrong.  And I hate when I go on Twitter and I see certain people flaunting the types of books that they read.  It’s ridiculous and self centered.

I do believe that books should be separated slightly based on educational/literary merit, because I genuinely think that when kids read harder, more complex books, they will become more intelligent and able to think in bigger, better ways.  THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT THEY CAN’T READ EASY BOOKS.  In fact, the only way someone will truly enjoy all of those big books is if you get to read 2-3 books that you really desperately want to read in between (I’m thinking of when I read The Cliche for all of middle school despite the eye rolls sent from my mom’s direction).

That top part doesn’t just go for kids.  Everyone once in a while should try to read a book that challenges them, whether it be at the diction level, finding the deeper meaning, or a moral struggle.  These are the type of books which will make us better people.

For some people, the above book might be 13 Reasons Why, or I’ll Give you the Sun.  For others, it might be Crime and Punishment, or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  All four of those will challenge you in different ways, and although the latter 2 are considered “better” than the former by the critics among us, ALL FOUR could be just as enriching and powerful for the right person.

So stop genre shaming.  Stop calling some books guilty pleasures and others works of literary merit.  Stop judging a book by its genre, and stop presuming that you know what will challenge others and make them better people.

If you love classics, then great.  Congratulations.  If you love YA and SSF, then that’s awesome too.  It isn’t about the genre, it’s about the emotions of the person as they read, and how it will change them when they come out on the other end.  Let's Talk

Do you think genre shaming is okay? Are you a victim of genre shaming? Do you think that readers of different genres should be looked at differently? Let me know!




25 thoughts on “Discussion: Genre Shaming… A Crime?”

  1. I am 100% guilty of genre shaming… but I shame myself! When I see other people reading, it makes me happy. No matter what they are reading. I think you can take some value from every single one of them, even if it taught you nothing and just made you smile. But I often find myself classing certain books I loved as a Guilty Please. I got called out on this a few days ago and I am glad I did. Someone told me they didn’t believe in Guilty Pleasure reads, and that we should all read and love whatever we want to. This person was so right, and I am going to work on not genre shaming myself so much.

    In this instance I think I class the read as a Guilty Pleaure because I originally read it after my 11 year old cousin asked me too. She wanted someone to talk to about it because she loves it so much. So I read it, and as a fully grown twenty-something year old mother of a toddler, I guess I felt like I shouldn’t have enjoyed it so much as I did. So by calling it a Guilty Pleasure, I guess it is my way of preventing being genre shamed by others. Which is just stupid. I should shout my love for all kinds of books from the rooftops, no matter what genre. I love such a huge variety of genres, and I am going to start proclaiming my love (with no guilt) about all of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do the exact same thing!! I feel like it comes from not wanting people to think you ONLY read easy books, and so you make comments about the fact that this is a “guilty” readand you’re actually much more educated. It’s horrible, but it happens way too often


  2. So I’m both guilty of doing this and recently found out I’m a victim too. Let me explain.
    There’s an author called Chetan Bhagat who writes “popular but terrible” literature in my country. While I try my very best not to get frustrated when people say they adore his books, I find that hard to do. I haven’t even read his books because I’ve been warned by so many avid bookworms that they suck. Since I became aware of my bias, I’ve tried to change my way of thinking.
    Yesterday, I was Googling about why people hate Dan Brown as an author. Personally, I loved the first three books in the Robert Langdon series and got a bit bored with the fourth as the stroyline felt repetitive, even though it threw light on a very scary issue. A lot of people hate him for not following conventional writing rules or for making stuff up. While I understand where the criticism is coming from, I still want to advertise the fact that I enjoyed some of his books without facing scorn.
    So, in essence, I want to say that genre shaming is a problem and that I’m trying not to perpetrate it or become a silent victim of it. A very thoughtful discussion post. You make several valid points. Loved reading your views on it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s nearly impossible to not be slightly biased or feel like you’re “shaming” people sometimes, especially when a book that a lot of other people love DOES seem like it’s an inferior quality to you personally…. but at the same time, I think the biggest issue is that we can separate not liking a book versus it not being good for anyone.
      I personally love Dan Brown, although I’ve only read one of his books!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely!! I’m actually taking a genre class this summer and we have talked a lot about this. It doesn’t exactly make people want to read and talk about their favorite books if others are judging them for their taste. Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you!! That’s so cool that you’re taking a genre class!!! It’s awful that some people are afraid to talk about their favorite books all because of genre shaming.


  4. Ooh, I definitely hate genre shaming! I especially hate the connotation of dystopian — while it’s something that’s “over” for a lot of people, I don’t like when people assume that a book is bad JUST because it’s dystopian? And a lot of people think that YA is inferior to adult fiction… when I don’t think that’s true??? (I think them equals haha.) Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! I hate that dystopian is so frowned upon now, it makes me mad because that’s a genre I’d love to write but I feel like it wouldn’t have much marketability….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Complete agree with this! There are some genres I’m not particularly fond of, but I don’t think they’re lesser books.

    It always annoys me when books I love are looked down upon because they’re YA or because they’re genre books like crime and thrillers. So many great books get overlooked for awards etc because they’re not literary fiction, that bugs me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! I don’t understand why lit fic is considered better than everything else, when YA and thrillers are sometimes the most well written books. It takes a lot of skill to fill those niches well, since it’s easier to fall into cliches and things than for most other genre, so it’s annoying when people think that it isn’t good writing. and if it’s annoying for us imagine how horrible it is for the authors.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This shamming annoys me so much. Each person has different tastes of books, and obviously not everyone is going to think greatly about the same particular book (it doesn’t matter if it’s Jane Eyre or Sarah Dessen). Why would people laugh at a genre others love? It doesn’t matter if you’re 70 and still love to read YA or middle great. There’s not a particular age for reading, and each person can choose what they’ll like to read, right?
    I’ve been genre shamed some times, and let me tell you I’ve come to the conclusion that most of those people aren’t well informed. Some of them do it so they feel cooler than you, and others simply because they don’t read at all and don’t really know anything about books, just the label.
    I love reading easy reads, sometimes my brain needs a rest! And other times I love a very complex book!
    But yeah, people should mind their own business and let others enjoy what they like😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes mixing up easy and complex books is essential for me, because if I only read one or the other I wouldn’t enjoy either.
      That’s THE WORST when people genre shame and they don’t even read. Like who do you think you are!?!?!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I do it too sometimes, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Honestly I feel the need to mix in some “better” reads once in a while because I think it makes the lighter ones even better!! I think a lot of people do what you do, there just needs to be less thinking “it’s less so it’s BAD” and more taking each book for it’s own thing, not necessarily bad or good

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ::starts a slow clap from across the room::
    Thank you. This post is perfect. So tired of getting 🙄 when I tell people I read YA. Yes, I started to see what my students would be reading and make an effort to bring it into the classroom (more contemporary reads vs the old standby reading list), but I love it myself now. So no more hating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YAY!! We need more teachers who are willing to find GOOD YA books rather than forcing kids to read books that they won’t actually enjoy. YA is an amazing genre and I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. We talked a lot about genre shaming in one of my lit courses last semester, especially in terms of YA and what’s considered “popular” fiction. I hate when people talk about the YA genre as though it’s inherently inferior to adult fiction… some of my all-time favorite books are considered YA!! ❤ Love this post so much!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes that’s one of the worst types of discrimination, when people assume that just because it’s for a younger audience it’s worse!!! That course sounds really cool. Glad you liked the post!

      Liked by 1 person

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