Are You What You Read?

I really wanted to title this post "You Are What You Read," but am making an effort to be a more understanding, open-minded, non-judgmental book blogger. Okay, not really, but I know my definition of shit may not be yours, so I'm trying just a little. There was an interesting article in the New York Times "Sunday Book Review" last week entitled "The Perils of Literary Profiling," discussing the idea of being judged by the books on your shelf. It leaned heavily towards a discussion of the reading habits of criminals, but it does present an interesting question- what do your books say about you?

Some people take note of the cars people drive, the brands they wear, or the cocktails they order- I pay attention to what they are reading (oh, and all these fucking Kindles are making it much harder to do so). A few weekends ago I asked a parking attendant what I had interrupted her from when I paid (A Thousand Splendid Suns, i
n case you were wondering). I then proceeded to make inferences about the person, and how they perceive the act of reading. I do this all the time, with people I see reading in waiting rooms, in airports, at the spa. Are they reading for pure fun? To learn? To challenge themselves? As the article mentions, is it to "understand the enemy?"

Of course I spent some time thinking about how I would be profiled based on my catalog. Someone who likes new authors, some strong classics, dark humor, intellectual fiction, running, sarcastic Brits, and the Man Booker Prize. Someone who stays away from science fiction, plays, poetry, self-help, and mass market paper backs. Also, someone who likes to stay organized, since I definitely have a system.

Time after time, though, I have to remind my self to not be too judgmental. Perhaps the person curled up with the New York Times Crapseller of the Month listens to Mozart, tunes in to NPR, and writes letters to oil companies about their environmental policies. Or, maybe they're obsessed with horrible CBS comedies, laugh hysterically when they see someone get hit in the balls during a movie, and think that global warming is a myth. You just can't know, and while I'd like to say I don't make assumptions, I can't. I don't use it as a way do judge if a person is good, bad, smart or dumb, though. And, rest assured, I don't care if your necklace is Tiffany's or Target, your area code is 909 or 714, or your prefer a Corona to Courvoisier.
Just once in a while slip in something that makes you think.


  1. Hmm... Interesting. So what do you say about someone who reads Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and If you Give a Mouse a Cookie? Not that I know anyone like that...just saying.

    You're so raw, I LIKE IT! Next time I stroll on in to Boarders I'll make sure to put more thought into my next book...and watch out for customers who are judging me for my pick. :) hehe

  2. Hmmmm... I think I'd say you must have kids! Or be an elementary teacher... or teach Read 180 to high school kids (you should read them those), haha.

    Yeah, I have to be careful to keep the "rawness" under control. Sometimes I get rolling and have to be reined in. Yay for rereading!