Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Pretentious? Moi?

Want to look more intelligent than you really are? Quick, grab a book!

Says John Ezard in the Guardian:
Books are the new snobbery, according to a survey today. Social competitiveness about which titles we read has become one of the new mass forces of the era and only middle-aged people are relatively free of it.

Driven partly by pressure from incessant literary prize shortlists, more than one in three consumers in London and the south-east admit having bought a book "solely to look intelligent", the YouGov survey says.

It finds one in every eight young people confessing to choosing a book "simply to be seen with the latest shortlisted title". This herd instinct dwindles to affect only one in 20 over-50 year-olds.

"The latest literary pressure is keeping up with the rest of your fellow travellers and commuters. Bookshelf contents are fast becoming as studied and planned as outfits as a way to impress others. Books shortlisted for prestigious literary panel awards are becoming 'de rigueur' reading for many."
Okay ...but it might not work here in Malaysia. Who is going to be impressed to see you posing around with the latest prize-winning title as you strap hang on the LRT? I get strange looks all the time when I read in public ...

10 comments:

__earth said...

Malaysians hate books, especially books written in foreign language. It's traitorous to not read in Malay!

Do you read Martian?

soowm said...

I confess that I bought Anais Nin Early Diaries and Charles Dickens to look "intellectual". Can't seem to get any headway with those books.

Totally Depleted said...

Yes... I know the 'strange looks' you spoke of. But I keep reading anyway. This is how I figure it; I have as much right to read as they have to pick their noses...

Anonymous said...

What about not being seen reading something you really want to read for fear of looking stupid, overly romantic, immoral or populist?

Behind my intelligent books on my bookshelf are the trashy novels which of course aren't mine but were inherited from previous housemates or were lent to me completely against my will, and I have not got around to returning them.

I exercise an amazing self restraint when I see the kind of
books on my mother's bedside table.

She thinks I'm an intellectual snob and waits to pounce when I mispronounce words or make a spelling mistake (frequent occurence as you can tell by my postings - I can't spell!!). Of course mothers know their children inside out.

Animah

The Great Swifty said...

Yeah. I almost FELT ashamed whenever I bring a novel to high school and college back then. With people walking past and 'WAISEH! SMALL WORDS LEH! CAN READ AR? I OSO CANNOT READ LEH! SO THICK LOOK LIKE DICTIONARY!!'

And then prefects confiscating a perfectly harmless Dragonlance book (harmless in content, harmful because of its shitness). Gee, thanks a lot for making me feel ashamed of reading and writing. I love my high school and their condemnation of fictional writings.

__earth said...

I might digressing but taught at Kuala Kangsar previously?

When? in the 80s?

bibliobibuli said...

_earth - I don't speak Martian very well. Failed my O Level. And I taught in kuala Kangsar 85-88 at MCKK.

soowm - well done for confessing!

totally depleted - that comment of yours really made me smile. I thought - how true!

animah - that's a kind of reverse snobbery, I think. Hmmm now I know something else about you.

swifty - the experience you describe clearly left very deep scars - ridiculous way to treat a reader ...

Anonymous said...

Well there are rules. Speaking of strange looks, you never want to be caught reading Terry P at a bus stop. It might be hazardous to people who're not used to it. Was doing that once, and this nice lady was sitting next to me. The bus was late, so I guess she must have gotten bored or something because she looked over and started reading the book. For about ten seconds. Took a look, started reading, and suddenly recoiled, like the book just turned into a snake :) I never knew why that was :) maybe next time I should read Nabokov's Lolita :)

Dickens isn't intellectual.. they cracking good yarns, but it's not like they deal with any heavy issues. If you don't want them I'll trade with you :)

lishun said...

reading books to LOOK intellectual? err. ok. and i've never gotten strange looks, though i always lug a novel with me when i travel. hmm? O.o

lainieyeoh said...

strange, I never knew it looked intellectual - it's not like we're carrying an encyclopedia around with us, is it?. More...bookish-nerdy, and it's entirely possible to read a lot and have a healthy amount of herd mentality and ignorance.