In Defense of Unpopular Books

I was in a conversation the other day about some incongruous detail in a novel someone else had read. It was rather nit-picky, but we were discussing suspension of disbelief and the effect inaccuracies in fiction have on the reader. One of the guys were talking with dismissed the discrepancy as unimportant because the novel was a fluff piece and “just a vampire romance Twilight knock-off.”

Now, it’s one thing to make fun of a book, or even a whole genre. But goodness help ye who should dismiss a book or a genre. Because, here’s the thing: you may think it’s childish and poorly written. You may think it’s immature and two-dimensional. But chances are, if it’s published, someone, somewhere has been affected by it. This is someone’s curl-up-under-the-covers book. This is someone’s maybe-I’m-not-alone book. Just because it’s a category romance or a YA fantasy doesn’t invalidate the time that it allowed someone, just for a little while, to be someplace else.

A book is a book is a book. Not to say they’re all the same, but to say they’re all valid. If it has been published, someone, and probably many someones, have poured their hearts and souls and lives into it. Just because it’s not important to you doesn’t mean it’s not important to anybody.

So be careful the next time you dismiss a book because of what it’s called or where it’s shelved. Be careful when you judge someone based on reading material you think is “unintelligent.” Who knows? You could be the next person cradling a disreputable novel and being inexplicably enchanted by the words on the page. It may be riddled with grammatical errors, it may have a far-fetched plot, it may rely on unrealistic characters and wooden dialogue, but all it takes is that one unexplainable moment of resonance. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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