I have been on such a low ebb of creativity that I just cannot do anything except lie around staring up at the ceiling. Oh and read. I have not been able to write a word for ages. I hope that at the end of this ebb lies a huge burst of inspiration, but until then I’m just going to keep reading, and hoping.

But all of this reading has brought a problem to my attention, I problem that I am trying to keep a deep secret from people around me.

I am a disgusting book snob. And a film snob too.

This is not a nice thing to be. And I wasn’t always this way!

When I was growing up in Durban suburbia, my summer holidays consisted of very little. My family did not go anywhere. We did not do anything. And so I read. I used to attack my local library, and pick up 6 books at a time, any books, whichever books had a nice cover, and read a few a day.

I read everything.

But these last few years I did a few writing courses. The kind of writing courses that absolutely anyone, without a shred of experience, could rock up to, and have fun at. And while I cannot say that I improved my writing skills much, those courses definitely honed my critical reading skills.

I remember clearly, after my third year of these courses, suddenly reading a friend’s story and seeing the components, the structure, and what was wrong with it, and what was right. And since then I have never been able to read anything without analysing the bones of the thing. And I am willing to excuse a shaky skeleton if the story is beautiful and special.

But very few books seem to have that X-factor for me. VERY VERY FEW. I am the fussiest reader you will probably ever know. If you join me on Good Reads you will see the kind of thing I read. (Please join me! I love connecting with other book readers, whatever it is you like to read).

I guess, at a glance, my favourite books would be things like:

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates

The Road – Cormac McCarthy

The catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

The Lacuna  – Barbara Kingsolver

The Member of the Wedding – Carson McCullers

Yup, all of those writers are American, but I do like other types of writing.  Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy rocked my world. But that is my genre, so to speak.

The problem is, when I run out of things to read, which is often, I ask other people for suggestions. This has been to my detriment at work, because a lovely lady keeps bringing me dramatic period history romances set in England, which I could never, ever bring myself to read, even if I was paid like actual squids.

The plots usually go something like (according to Google):

  • baby is washed up on shore and adopted by well meaning couple – who both die quite soon after.
  • Girl grows up loved but then abused when orphaned.
  • Girl somehow ends up marrying her real father
  • Of course they divorce when embarrassing family connection (at least he is wealthy) is discovered.
  • Then she falls pregnant and marries some other dashing guy who is rich and brave (but not honourable?!).
  • Who dies right in the beginning of the sequel, which leads me to believe that this woman is baaaaaaad news.
  • l0ts of rape and scandal happens
  • By the end of part two she is married again
  • and we all go hurrah

But I keep taking these books from her. And pretending to read them.

And when I ask people on Facebook for suggestions of what to read, I pretend to take those suggestions seriously, and thank them, although I have little intention of reading anything other than the kind of thing I mention above.

So why am I living a lie? Why don’t I just tell people, oh that’s not really my thing?

Because being a blatant snob is an ugly thing. Nobody likes a snob. I can criticise most books, and criticism doesn’t necessarily mean negative criticism. I have just been taught to look at technique. To dissect. I actually enjoy it.

Who could suffer such a pompous pain in the butt who insults their beloved books? Not me! I’m pretty sure it would sound like I think my tastes are superior, and that I am looking down on their beloved books. It really doesn’t work that way. I like what I like. You like what you like. That is fine and dandy.  Secretly I may harbour criticism about the writing style of some books that you like. And that comes across as superiority, no matter how I try to disguise it.

I am such a naturally shy, reclusive type person, that when I meet a book lover, a rare and spendid thing, what I want more than anything, is a connection with another human. I want to hear them talking about the books they love, and I want to be nice to them, and hopefully further that connection. They don’t want to dissect the book they love, they just enjoyed the story. And so I pretend, and listen. And live the lie. And frantically google these books so I at least have a rough idea of what they are about before I hand them back.

The shame.

It’s not my fault I’m a pompous book snob. My writing teachers made me into a monster. The same goes for the screenwriting course I did. I cannot tolerate 90% of Hollywood movies.

Some of my favourite movies have been:

Innocence – a French film about schoolgirls.

I’m a cyborg but that’s ok – Korean film about – I think you just have to see it.

Although probably the most mindblowing thing I have seen is There Will Be Blood, which is as American as they come.

Of course, if I had a friend (hypothetically ok), and that friend wanted to go and see Bridesmaids, I would go and see it. And bite my tongue. Because it’s all about the Human Connection, people.  I just want to be nice. While secretly wishing to tear everything apart with enthusiasm. Luckily the BFG tolerates my dissection practices, but then he is pretty good at it himself.

Do you think I should come out and be honest? And stop taking suggestions that I will never read, and pretending they sound good?

I think I just can’t do it.

And finally, I draw most of my creativity from music, and so here is some Death Cab, who I currently love so much that the lead singer is almost, almost looking hot to me right now.  If anything can dig out my hibernating creativity, this would be it.

Happy reading, watching, and listening,

love a pompous book snob xxx


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tamara
    Jul 21, 2011 @ 12:17:18

    I get you. I am a book snob and a movie snob. But about random books and movies, not the ones you’re “allowed” to be snobby about. My problem is that I studied film and writing, but don’t like what most people like or what most film and literary critics like. I’m a difficult and unjustified snob.

    For example, I hate, hate HATE “Pulp Fiction” and “Blue Velvet” (supposed classic) but love the first “Transformers” movie (no comment about the second two). I get why Black Swan is excellent, but didn’t enjoy it. I can also understand that JM Coetzee’s books are brilliant and I can appreciate them, but sometimes I’d rather pick up a Clive Cussler (although that might just be for the fun of laughing at the really bad writing).

    The trouble is, I can’t shut up about my opinions. The other night we were at supper club and the other people were talking about how much they loved some romcom (I think it was Made of Honor, which I loathed) and how terrible Wall-E was (which I loved). And instead of being polite, I had to express how revolting I thought the first movie was and give a 10min defence of the latter, citing the “making of” footage and instructing them all to rent the dvd and see what went into making the movie.


    Of course, they will not change their tastes and I will not change mine. I need to learn to be more tolerant; to keep my opinions to myself; to be less vehement about what is “good” and what is “bad”.

    That said; you will still not find me meekly trekking to the cinema with a friend to suffer through the latest Adam Sandler flick ;-)


  2. Helen
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 10:50:31

    I have learned to turn that part of my brain off (mostly) unless I’m watching with someone who feels the same as me. I think it’s based on growing up with a critical family – I would be desperate to show them something I had enjoyed and they would tear it to pieces and I would never enjoy it again. I would rather appreciate a book or a movie for the joy it brings them.

    That and I have a total addiction to bad zombie movies.

    The only exception are the chick flicks because I find that most of them really upset me. I hate that people are basically being trained to run away from functional relationships for something more exciting. Take Sweet Home Alabama, she has left a failed marriage met an amazing guy who adores her, gets engaged and goes home, only to dump the fiancee to get get back together with the guy who it hadn’t worked out with. Seriously? I would LOVE to see a sequel where they are screaming at each other and the old fiancee is not available because someone else actually appreciated him.

    Oh and I’m not a book snob at all. I used to be but then I never had anything to read.


  3. Helen
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 10:51:41

    oh, and I HATED Made of Honour too.


  4. Nes
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 12:38:06

    I wish I could say I was a book or movie snob. Really I do. There is something very smart about book snobs. But sigh, I love reading ANYTHING and I will enjoy pretty much any movie. I think I am easy to please. Like I like Twilight saga books although I know they are crappy and badly written but I don’t know…its cute. She never understands why he loves her. I get that and so therefore I identify. I think if I can identify with any person or part of a movie or book then I like it. See? Really easy to please.

    p.s. I love Wall-e and I have not watched Made of Honour but it looks awful. ;)


  5. seamonkeypo
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 14:22:12

    Made of Honor, hahah is that what it is called? Is there not a movie called bridesmaids? Is that a UK thing or am I just so out of the loop? Whatever I don’t plan to watch any of them.


  6. Helen
    Jul 27, 2011 @ 09:58:02

    Made of honour is a few years old, it’s with the guy from Grey’s Anatomy who is the best fried of the bride but also in love with her. I don’t feel the need to summarise any more because I’m sure you can guess the ending. There is a movie called Bridesmaids that I’m already booked to go and see with the girls, here’s hoping it’s not too bad. I did manage to avert drive-in plans when I saw that ‘Something Borrowed’ was showing…


    Jul 29, 2011 @ 08:17:52

    I’m a rap music snob and I’m not ashamed of it, hell, I make snarky comments about the type of rap music my friends listen to all the time. They used to hate it but now they come to me for suggestions. Maybe if you come out of the closet and be a proud book snob, you might be the designated book expert amongst your peeps.


  8. Po
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 20:20:38

    Helen: ahaaaaaaa thanks for clearing up the general marriage-oriented films for me!

    Aquilogy: maybe! And get respect! I dunno though, reading is not much of a popular hobby anyway, so nobody really cares what is good and bad. I am trying desperately to persuade my Chinese colleague not to use Twilight as a measure of the quality of literature in the English language. It is impossible. He read a few words and thinks that is all that we have to offer!


  9. Paula
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 10:30:45

    Crumbs. I’m one of those “suspend disbelief” types. Although I can’t watch American Pie-esque movies without feeling sick to my stomach.

    Its only now that I’m getting a little book snobbery. But I occasionally enjoy books that are thoroughly bad. Simply because they revel in their badness with pride. Like Mills and Boon romances. OMW they are horrible and corny and badly structured. they are an atrocity to spend R10 on. But I would still do it. For the pink cover. lol.

    But the one that doesn’t make sense to me is Twilight. I used to like it. But upon reading it for the third time- I got sick of Bella’s effin character. Like bitch get somebackbone and stop being a twat for Edward. Who is equally corny. But I am in love with Jacob so I can’t be a bitch about the book too much. Not Team Jacob – because I wouldn’t want Jacob to land up with Bella. Because I strongly dislike Bella.

    I’m gonna watch my blog structure because you and Tamara LOL :P


  10. Paula
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 10:47:56

    and live music does that. Make one hotter. Don’t know what it is. I had a crush on the drummer of Fuzigish for that once. I don’t like punk music- so you have to understand. But its always good to be in love with music. Yeehaaw


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