Book-Shaming and Why It’s Not Okay

Last Sunday night, I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline until I saw someone tweeting that people who read YA books has no taste. Few days before that, I saw a Tweet about book-shaming. And months ago, a so-called ‘quirky’ person tweeted something that said, young people only read from young authors, other than ‘real’ literary works.

Maybe, indeed, Twitter is getting toxic nowadays.

And hello! Welcome back to Readlogy! In today’s post, I’d like to talk about book­­-shaming and why it’s not okay. Reading this maybe you think, is a book-shaming a thing? Apparently, yes, it is. You may or may not realize it, but it’s a thing. So without further ado, let’s rant talk!

“People who read [insert particular genre] has no taste in books. Stan [insert particular classic authors] instead”

“Wait, you only read romance? That’s bad”

“You’re 20 stop reading middle grade books!”

“You’re not a reader enough if you haven’t read this book. No matter how many books you’ve read, you won’t be a reader if you never read this.”

“Comic books are for children, grow up and read other genres.”

…and any other negative comments we received from people. Have you ever received one like this?

Book-shaming is condition where a person invalidates someone’s favorite books or preferred genres. It makes them feel bad about what they read. It makes them feel guilty for enjoying books they love. Often, people book-shame readers who enjoy particular genres (such as young adult, new adult, erotica and romance) though it can happens to everyone, regardless what they read.

In the country where I live, most English lit students get book-shamed because they prefer to read young adult/new adult books to classic literature. It makes me sad that we still get judged for things we love, even when all we do is reading and not picking a fight with people.

One of my friends on Twitter pointed out that a host of an event said that you are not a reader if you haven’t read a particular book, no matter how many books you read in your lifetime.

Other Twitter friend of mine also told me that she was book-shamed because she didn’t read a ‘real’ book. What even is a real book? I mean, a book is a book right?

A lot of new adult readers get book-shamed because they read a book with shirtless guy in the cover.

People say comic and graphic novel readers are not a ‘book reader’ which I think is ridiculous.

I personally have received many book-shamed myself, one of people in real life told me that what I read is useless—that I should read non-fictions more.

The reasons why people book-shame other readers is because their own opinion about particular genres or they think what they read is way cooler than everyone. For example, someone may dislike a book and they think other people who read it has no taste. Other example, someone only enjoy classic literature works and think everyone who doesn’t appreciate it as much as they do is people who don’t know literature, at all.

Honestly, at this point, I’m just tired.

Many people may have book-shamed someone else, whether they realize it or not (me included). So it’s better to acknowledge these things so we won’t offend people in the future. Here’s a sign that we might book-shame people in the past:


  1. Thinking you’re cooler or smarter than other people after reading certain books

THIS! NEEDS! TO STOP! IMMEDIATELY! It’s one thing to recommend a good book to everyone and tell them to read it. But it’s another thing to feel like you’re better than anyone because we read it first. It’s never okay to feel like we’re smarter than everyone because they don’t read the same book as we do. This superiority behavior needs to stop.

  1. Your judgement toward certain authors

Yes, we all have our favorite authors and authors whose books are not our cup of tea. That’s totally okay, we have our own preference, right? But sometimes, we can be biased. We begin to see our favorite authors as the best of the best and the rests are just… meh. From this judgement alone, sometimes we consciously or unconsciously thinking everyone who read certain authors simply don’t know any better. We think they’re tasteless—or worse, shame them for reading their work.

  1. Thinking certain genres are above everything

Again, this is all about preference and superiority. Sure, we have that one genre we dislike and it has nothing to do with everything but our preference, but thinking that our favorite genres are the best and shame everyone who read other genres—or even, thinking they are not as valid as a reader are just jerk moves. I see this happens a lot when it comes to classic literature. Sure, it’s a masterpiece, I can’t deny. But thinking that people who doesn’t enjoy it as much as other people do and invalidate them as a reader… are you kidding?

  1. Putting people into a box

“You’re 20, why don’t you read more mature books?”

“You’re still in high-school, right? Don’t you think philosophical / historical books are too heavy for you?”

“Read more non-fiction books, stop reading romance. You’re a grown up!”

That’s what I meant with putting people into a box. We think that certain genres are only suitable for certain readers. For example, we think a grown-up people should not read middle grade/comic books, a young adult should not read historical books—those kind of things. It’s not okay to judge people like that. No matter what gender and how old they are, people are allowed to read books they want.

  1. In conclusion, is all about superiority and judgmental attitude

I mean, it’s pretty clear, right? The feeling of superiority makes us easy to judge people based on what they read or enjoy. Is it okay? Absolutely not. Feeling like we’re better than anyone just because we read something different than people doesn’t make us look smarter. It does make us look arrogant and people won’t like us for that.

Now you know the reasons why people book-shame others. Maybe we didn’t realize we’ve shamed people or put people into a box because they read particular genres. Of course, this behavior needs to stop.

However, there are signs that you’ve been received this kind of behavior multiple times.

  1. You feel embarrassed with what you read

Raise your hand if you ever feel embarrassed to read in public or live-tweet your reading activity. Been there, done that. When someone call you out for books you enjoy, you slowly feel like you need to hide your favorite books because you’re afraid of people’s judgement. At least, that’s what I felt with some of my favorite books.

There are some books I don’t want to publicly tell people in my real life that I love them very much. Because I know how they feel about this books. For example, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Yep, a lot of Indonesians apparently are against The Song of Achilles kind of book, go figure why.

  1. You follow the trend

There’s nothing wrong with following the trend or reading every best seller / hype books. No, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But when we feel like we have to follow the trend because we want to be accepted in book community or seen as ‘real reader’, then it’s one of the signs we’ve been shamed before. Sometimes we read books we don’t enjoy because people will judge us for not reading it, even though book is totally one’s preference and of course it’s different for everyone.

  1. Un-honest review

Have you ever pretended to like a book because you’re either afraid people will call you out for not liking particular book or you’re embarrassed with what you read? Have you ever written an un-honest review because you care so much about what people think? Well, welcome to People Shame our Book Preference Club.

  1. You feel ashamed to share your reading goal publicly

Well, you know, sometimes people can be like, “Oh, you read only 5 books a year? How uncool.” and that’s what makes some of us feel like we don’t want to tell people how many books we’ve read in a month or a year. Some people can be annoying for reading way more books than other people.

A reminder for us all

People may prefer tea to coffee, and no judgement in that, right? Well, that’s the same thing with books. People have their own favorite books and preferences, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a ‘taste’ because they don’t like the same books as we do.

It’s okay if you read romance with shirtless guy in the cover, or young adult that revolves around teenage life. It’s okay if you read translated works, or literature works. It’s okay if you like any genres, no one should judge you for that.

Keep it in mind that we should never invalidate someone based on what they read or enjoy. What looks bad to us may be a 5 stars rating to them. Sure, we totally can recommend books to other people, but we shouldn’t tell them to abandon their favorite books/genres. Learn to know the difference between being mean and helpful.

Support each other as a reader, do not ever let them feel bad for reading their favorite books.

You’re welcome to pin this on Pinterest!

I’d like to hear from you!

And we’re reaching the end of today’s post. Have you ever shamed people based on books they read? Or have you ever received one? Let me know your story in the comment section below because I genuinely want to know!

That’s it for today. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss any updates from me. I’ve gotten a lot of ARCs to review so make sure you’re here to see that! See you later!




7 thoughts on “Book-Shaming and Why It’s Not Okay

  1. Oh, book shaming makes my blood boil. It’s bad enough when it comes from non-readers, such as random people who judge your book based on its cover or genre. But it’s especially awful when it comes from within bookish communities, like people saying that you aren’t a real reader unless you read a certain number or type of books. This is a wonderful post and a great reminder not to judge others’ reading!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It makes me sad too. Why do some people in bookish community see reading as competition against each other??? Why don’t we just support and respect each other’s genres???

      Thank you Margaret for your comment!!


  2. Really great post and a good reminder!
    I remember experiencing a kind of book-shame from my teachers in school because all I read was fantasy. That’s a childish genre apparently and so I was meant to grow out of it. They would always try to draw me away from the fantasy shelves at the school library and give me contemporaries to read instead. It really made me think that I had to hide my love for fantasy as I grew older, because it would make me seem immature. However, I got over this when I discovered the online bookish community and found so many other adult fantasy readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my god, I’m sorry you have to experience that 😦

      It always makes me sad to know that people love to judge us for reading certain genres–especially when we received this comment from our fellow readers. I know that we can’t expect people to be nice to us but I don’t think being kind and respectful to someone costs you a college tuition, am I right?

      Thank you so much for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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