“Generally, I Hate All Books.”

There’s nothing particularly unusual about this quote from Nell Zink, an author. ‘Generally I hate all books, but I love Purity.’ And technically I don’t even have a problem with it- well, I think it’s snobby and bigoted, but I don’t know enough about the lady to judge. What I do have a problem with is the fact that that quote was being used in my local bookshop to market the novel Purity.

This post is really nothing to do with Nell Zink or Purity. I’m just pretty disgusted at the fact that apparently, ‘hating all books’ is seen as a badge of good judgement. There seems to be a star-struck attitude, these days, towards extreme cynicism- people shrivel in the face of it, particularly if it comes from someone with credentials. They assume that because someone criticises, that that person sees things that they don’t- that the critic is somehow more intelligent or knowledgeable or reliable than them.

And of course it’s important to be able to criticise. But blanket criticism of the ‘I hate all books’ type is really just as dumb as blanket praise, if not more so. At least loving something wholeheartedly takes bravery and self-possession. Would the quote have been used to market Purity if it had been ‘Generally I love all books, and I love Purity even more’? No, it would not. It’s fashionable to be ‘done’ with everything at the moment, you see. Enthusiasm makes people nervous. Perhaps they’re scared of being caught up in it- of revealing that, actually, there are things that excite and interest and inspire them.

As for the quote itself- really, lady? You really hate ‘all’ books? Sounds to me like you need to read a little more, huh? Then you might find a book that you actually like, unless you’re one of those perpetually ‘over it’ people who are terrified of enjoying anything.

Unless of course I’m mistaken, and the quote was somehow wrongly contextualised. Because hey, perhaps the bookshop in question simply misunderstood, and went on to use it as advertising anyway. But even so, wouldn’t that say something about us? It’s impressive, suddenly, to hate all books. (I’m bewildered. She hates Jane Eyre? Catch-22? Are you kidding me?) We’re supposed to buy into the idea that this woman is so proficient that she sees awful dreadful gaping flaws in everything she reads, and sees them so clearly that she is forced to hate the material. Yet somehow this book, Purity, has come along that, oh gosh, transcends even the clarity of her world-weary gaze.

Yeah. No.

Perhaps I’ll read Purity one day. Perhaps I won’t. But if I do, it’ll be on the strength of the first page, and not by way of buying into all the cynical crap that’s flying around. If I want to see my favourite things shat on, I’ll go to YouTube comment threads, thanks. What the hell kind of bookshop endorses the hating of books anyway?

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62 thoughts on ““Generally, I Hate All Books.”

  1. Ok, I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure if this makes sense, but the first time I read the quote – and I didn’t know that Purity was a book – I thought that Purity referred to something like story telling. That that person enjoys the purity of a story and not the way it is compressed into the confines of a book or something like that…

    Anyway, marketing loves to take things out of context if that fits them better, but it’s weird that they turn to that kind of statement when advertising a new book, as their first approach is usually “for fans of” or “the next so-and-so” or “better than all the rest”…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oops- I wondered if I’d made it entirely clear what Purity was…
      And yes, most marketing techniques are pretty silly. I’m not sure why this one got up my nose so much, but there you go.

      Like

      • May becasue as a Geekgirl you’re sensitive to the idea of “The Cool Kids Club”. See one of the hallmarks of being a geek, or bookworm or fan is ones enthusiastic love of something despite certain elements of society trying to spit on you for it and that’s exactly what she sounds like. You analyzed it correctly but you didn’t add that this new cynicism,and dislike of all, is just the newest way that people who want others to think they’re “cool” like to behave.
        I think other people’s enthusiasm for something can be mildly upsetting for those who don’t know enough about themselves to ge enthused by anything. It’s not that they’ll be roped into your happiness. I’ve found that they don’t have anything they enthusiastically endorse and your sheer happiness at whatever you’re espousing, seems threatening to them. They have to try to kill your joy. They don’t have anything like it.
        At least that’s been my experience.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ikeke- I hadn’t really thought of that, but you know what, I think you’re right. I think of myself as very self-possessed but there’s a certain amount of defensiveness there too- I think a lot of geeks feel that way.
          And you’re totally right about people feeling disturbed by our enthusiasm. After all, people are afraid of what they don’t know, right? Haha, I love how you always show up and NAIL it πŸ˜›

          Like

  2. “As for the quote itself- really, lady? You really hate β€˜all’ books? Sounds to me like you need to read a little more, huh? Then you might find a book that you actually like, unless you’re one of those perpetually β€˜over it’ people who are terrified of enjoying anything.”

    I feel bad for her! I love all books-I can tolerate bad grammar etc as long as the story being told is good!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: “Generally, I Hate All Books.” | clarehands

  4. With you 100% on this. Would you want your books marketed to an audience that hates books? When you think about it even for a second, past the marketing grab, it shows a mind my mother would have called “pig ignorant” If Nell Zink (whoever she is) read more books she might have something interesting to say.

    Liked by 1 person

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