In an article posted on Huffingtonpost.com earlier this month, author Gabrielle Zevin questions why we lie about our favorite books. Instead of admitting that we love mysteries, romance, a book from our childhood, or Twilight, most people would rather state that their favorite book is something that makes them sound intelligent and thoughtful—like a New York Times Bestseller that we read about in a review once. There’s a sense of pride when we pick out the book at the bookstore and place it on our coffee table or bookshelf, while there is something embarrassing about revealing our true favorites. Zevin notes, “I have often wondered if a book like Fifty Shades of Grey would have done as well in a world without e-readers. What if all readers had had to go into an actual bookstore to purchase a copy?”
Sometimes we try to get out of answering the question about naming our favorite book by saying something like, “Oh, there’s too many! How could I ever choose just one?” I used to ramble off a bunch of titles or authors when asked the question, but now I feel more confident revealing that The China Garden is my favorite book. I don’t mind that hardly anyone else has ever read it. I don’t mind that it’s a young adult mystery/romance from the 1990s. I’ve read and re-read the book on multiple occasions and no longer feel guilty that it isn’t a classic or a Best Seller.
In all, Zevin states that she doesn’t “mind when people ‘lie’ about what they read. I think the lie itself is revealing and the more I consider the matter, I’m not even sure it’s a lie. On some level, I think we want our reading self to represent our best self…We buy books aspirationally.”
Aspirationally or not, I’m just glad that people are still buying books and talking about them!
How about you? Do you find yourself lying about your favorite books?