Readers Hating Other Readers

We live in an era of hate. Instead of praising our favorite singers, we are tearing down one that doesn’t even matter to us. Instead of leaving a 5-star review on one of our favorite books, we are leaving a 1-star review on the recently highlighted one. Instead of looking up neat dance videos, we are watching a series of YouTube flicks of people falling down during their wedding day. For every person who loves something, there are ten people who are trying to tear it down just for fun.

At some point, it became “cool” to “hate” on whatever is out there – generally the latest, most popular-selling item. I could write about all kinds of hate in our culture, but I would rather focus on the “hating” that is happening between readers. I want to clarify that I realize most people do not participate in this hating. It’s often the haters that are simply the loudest, but I still think it’s important to face the issue of readers hating on readers in order to let readers know they are not alone and they can – in fact – be proud of what they love to read, no matter what it is.

So, what is hating between readers?

1. Making fun of someone for their reading choices. Sadly, this shouldn’t need an explanation, because it is wrong, but it is one of the main types of hate that I have personally seen happen, especially in schools. However, it also happens outside of school – mainly on the Internet – and I will explain why this is destructive below.

2. Fans putting down fans of the same novel/author: no one is a “better” fan of the same novel. Everyone is a fan. We should be happy that we enjoyed the same story. Who cares who read the book before the movie deal or after they watched the film? No one needs every edition of every novel in order to say they are a fan, and no one should be put down because they don’t have every fact about the series memorized. 

3. Deliberately spending obnoxious amounts of time tearing down a novel: ex/ creating entire websites that encourage the burning of said novel, especially when one has not even touched said novel.

These are the three main types that I see, and I think it is destructive for many reasons, but this article is one of my favorites: Hating Twilight Does Not Make You Cool. In this bit, Brian D. Buckley writes about how readers look down on one another, even going as far as to call someone “stupid” for not reading something else. Google is a pretty…sad place if you start searching for keywords regarding certain novels. In fact, there are entire websites dedicated to saying horrible things about certain novels AND the readers of those novels.

I know the “hating” generally focuses on the books, but why focus on what someone doesn’t like at all? Why not spend your time praising what you love instead? The reason I think readers should spend more time praising what they love and less time hating what they dislike is simple: the “hating” seems to get more attention today, and the “hating” starts making some of those readers embarrassed to say they are, in fact, a fan of those novels. This can be destructive, because those readers might not branch out to other novels that they would also enjoy. They may stop talking about what they are reading. They might not write reviews or share their thoughts with their friends. They may even stop reading altogether.

We know we are creating a negative reading culture when articles like this are popular: Be seen with a book? It’s just not cool, says 1 in 5 children. There is even something known as “Hate-Reading” which is when people purposely go out of their way to read about everything they dislike instead of enjoy. We should be an encouraging culture that appreciates all readers for whatever they feel connected with. Personally, I am happy if people are reading – no matter what it is. I think everyone has their preferences, and I worry that “reader hating” is preventing people from reading more and/or causing readers to hide instead of discussing their favorite novels.

We could hide in a pile of laundry like Bogart. (Jk)
We could hide in a pile of laundry like Bogart. (Jk)

So, what can we do?

We can encourage readers to love whatever they love. We tell those haters to go spend their time being positive instead of negative. If someone starts talking about something they hate in an inappropriate way (like calling fans stupid) we avert the conversation to something that person likes and/or tell them to try not to judge others’ tastes. We can encourage each other to remain positive, and we can create safe environments on the internet for fans to be positive by asking those internet “trolls” to leave or to be more appropriate. We can read what we love, and we can share it, even if it’s the “uncool” thing to do. (Because nothing should be defined as “cool”) We should be proud of what we love.

On my Facebook Author Page, I actually asked, “Has anyone ever made ‘fun’ of what you were reading? Why do you think people do this, and do you think it is destructive to the reading community? What do you think?” And here were some of those answers:

Charles Yallowitz: Not since high school and it was usually only part of the mocking. Some people simply carry low opinions of certain book types and those who read them. It’s close-minded and cuts a person off from a variety of reading.

Ojan BorotI haven’t personally found that. I am a 36 year old hwy construction worker and have no issue telling everyone that I am currently reading the Twilight series and am enjoying it. (even though I hate the 3 lead characters). I am halfway through Breaking Dawn and I read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.

Lori Remenicky: Reading is reading is reading – doesn’t matter what it is. I’ve always read romance – I hope no one has made fun of me for that.

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!
Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Check out all of the answers, and leave yours below! 

I would love to keep this conversation going in order to encourage readers to be proud of whatever they enjoy reading.


50 thoughts on “Readers Hating Other Readers

  1. It’s true, everyone wants to be a critic. The thing is, it’s okay to not enjoy something and say nothing. I’m not mad about Twilight or Miley, but they’re not really intended for me. I enjoyed True Blood and I know others didn’t, I don’t think they’re stupid for not being like me. The truth is, until you’ve written something, you’ll never know how hard it was, how many hours of love, passion, self-doubt and anguish were poured into a product that may never be read, and will especially not be read with a poor – ill-considered review. I’ve started wondering about whether there’s truth in the statement, “Those that can, create… those that can’t, review” … Great post. Keep writing 🙂

  2. Great post, Shannon. It’s great to see how your positive thinking can encourage and engage other readers. I hated the Harry Potter novels, but all my writing friends (including my best friend) loved them. I don’t hate them or say hurtful things just because they loved them. They didn’t work for me that’s all, move on to another book.

    I do, however, feel it necessary to point out the difference between hate and dislike. When I’m writing book reviews, I always feel it important to be fair and balanced. Even in reviews where I give the book 5*’s I also mention something that let the book down ‘in my own eyes’. There’re my opinions, but I use that to inform others not ‘hate’ on a book.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! My hope is that this post is the beginning of readers speaking out against the constant stream of negativity that is, quite frankly, unnecessary and unwelcome. I like how you worded it, “They didn’t work for me that’s all, move on to another book.” It’s very honest, and I wish I had mentioned another side – when readers gets mad at readers for NOT liking something. It’s okay to like or dislike. And it’s definitely okay to write a 1 star review as long as it doesn’t involve inappropriate text. I find it sad that Goodreads actually had to create rules that stated reviewers could not tell an author to “go die” and reviewers actually got upset that this “right” got taken away from them. Very sad.

      1. I can’t understand why anyone would either want to write “go die” on a review or feel it “cool” to do so. I know I may upset people, but I’m sorry, I find that sort of behaviour very immature.

        I certainly hope that when they get a little older, they can look back and see how idiotic they’ve been, as well as hurtful to others.

        Reading should be enjoyable, relaxing and captivating, never to be frowned upon. I really dislike the erotica genre, but I never throw hurtful abuse at people who do. In fact, the ‘leader’ of the writing group I’m in, loves and writes in that genre and I even read her stuff to help with edits and feedback.

        Keep up the good work, Shannon. We all need ambassadors to promote positive reading.

  3. I agree with you in that readers should not put each other down because of what books are being read. Sure, light jesting is one thing, but when a person is utterly ridiculed in puplic or online, then that’s crossing a line. Why should they care what someone else is reading?

  4. I use to hide what I read in the past because I’d worry about hate. Not so much anymore.
    I had friends that read twilight and liked them but I never had an interest. One friend just kept saying things like, “how do I know you don’t like it if you never read it.” I told her I saw the movie and I’m sure the books are better but I have a stack of to-read I’d rather get to. She never let up until she got to the second or third book and wasn’t liking the direction it was going. Never heard about them again.

      1. Thank you for the great post. It is okay to dislike something and state an opinion but the level of people hating on others is ridiculous. It’s not just with readers. Look at comic con and other fan participation events. Always someone hating and trying to make someone feel less. Wrong.

  5. I had no idea that there were fans of the same thing going after each other. Bizarre and slightly disappointing. I did recently learn about the ‘hate reading’, which I couldn’t understand the point of. I noticed a few people on a forum proudly claiming that they do this. I always thought reading a book I hated would count as a waste of time and effort on my part. Though that excuse never goes over well with high school English teachers.

    1. Yeah. That made me very sad the first time that I saw it. It was actually something I came across via Wattpad. It was a fan website, and there were people claiming to be “better” fans of The Hunger Games, I believe, compared to others. It amazed me that people who love the same thing still separated themselves in some way instead of standing together.

  6. This is something I thought people grew out of after school so it seems sad that someone would expend energy on belittling someone else’s likes. On the other hand I think its good to have a critical eye but use that to find what you enjoy and not to get a sense of superiority over others

  7. Absolutely right, Shannon. If you don’t like something, don’t read it, don’t recommend it and learn from it (if you’re a writer). Pouring time and energy into making statements about why you don’t like it helps no one and doesn’t even benefit you. Use that energy to praise the things you do enjoy or seek out more. You’re not going to like everything, but the sort of person you are will depend on whether you chose to focus your energy on things you do or don’t enjoy.

    And what a waste of energy it is if you chose to pour it into things that displease you.

    1. Thank you for reading, commenting, and spreading the word! Sharing the positive viewpoint will help others see they are not alone and will also encourage people to send those negative people away and/or help them become more positive people.

  8. Reblogged this on The Path – J. S. Collyer's Writing Blog and commented:
    Something really worth thinking about. It’s very easy to try and score points or feel better about things because you don’t like/agree/enjoy something, be it music, literature or lifestyle. It only takes the same mount of effort but is ultimately more rewarding to embrace the things you do enjoy and focus on the positive things that influence and encourage you. Anyone can dislike something, there will be people out there that dislike the things/people/entertainment you love. I’m all for discussion and debate, but tearing things down for the sake of it, who does that benefit? Does it even benefit the one doing the tearing down?
    Life becomes far richer when you express yourself through the things that you love, the things you think are good, the things that make you what they are, rather than what you are not.

    There’s room for manoeuvre, especially as a writer and a reader. You don’t have to love everything, but very rarely do you actually need to hate anything.

  9. Great post! I’m not personally a fan of Twilight but I wouldn’t make fun of someone for liking it and I don’t want people making fun of me for NOT liking it. I know that people get joy from reading and why would I want to take that away from someone? I think it’s shocking that people are putting so much energy into what they don’t like instead of what they do. Life if short and it’s important to focus on what you want and love in life.

    1. Great point! No one should be made fun of for “liking” or “not liking” something. Reading is a personal experience, and readers should spend more time spreading what they love instead of focusing on the latest bad book they read.

  10. You’ve put your finger on something, for sure. I guess it reflects that old saying, “Your true character is what you do when no one is looking.” On the Internet, it sure seems that no one is looking. Hence, bullies and trolls are everywhere.

    And, hence, it’s the responsibility of whatever adult is in charge of the venue (be it a blog, news forum, web site) to be firm and consistent in telling people to stop, taking down offensive posts, etc. Because your site, though open to the public or you won’t be attracting many readers, is private property and must be defended as such.

    1. You brought up a really great question that I was watching on a documentary the other day: it was talking about how on the internet, everyone in the commentary section is unusually cruel, but when you step outside no one is saying these horrible things. So, where do they go? Why don’t we see them in “real” life? Because they are in real life – they’re just different (or tough guys) on the Internet.
      I think – like you were saying – the person who is responsible for the venue should really start putting a stop to this sort of behavior. Yes, it might take a few minutes out of your day, but I think it’s important to start telling these bullies to go somewhere else.
      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  11. I feel the same way that you do. People shouldn’t be made to feel embarrassed about what they read. It always makes me sad to see people trashing other people. The world would be so boring if we all had the same taste in things.

  12. Thanks for this post. I really like that you are speaking out against reading bullying. I rebloged this, kind of. I did a blog of my own and linked this one. The reblog option seemed so limited. Anyway, cheers!

  13. It is such a sad indication of today’s society that so many people expend their energy on being so negative to others. Isn’t there already too much hate in this world? Do we really have to argue over who is the biggest fan or which book it is ‘uncool’ to read?

    Seriously, there is so much hate and jealousy out there. Whatever happened to live and let live? My mother always taught me that if you didn’t have something nice to say then you should say nothing at all.

    Perhaps it is the anonymity of the internet that makes haters think they can get away with spreading their negative comments far and wide. Either way, it is a sad state of affairs.

    Heather xxx

  14. you know it’s very rare for me to give a 1 star review… mainly because if a book is that bad I probably don’t manage to finish it and I’m not going to review something I haven’t read completely… but what makes me mad is people who put down things they know nothing about except that others are putting it down… like when Twilight got big and everyone was making fun of it… people would talk so much crap about it but they haven’t read it… all they knew was that the vampires sparkled and apparently that’s good enough reason to hate something… or with 50 shades of Grey people trashing it talking about how evil it was… but they only knew it was about S&M and didn’t read it to know that the girl was enjoying the naughtiness as much as the man… but it’s when something gets famous suddenly people want to hate it even when they don’t know why they hate it… that just makes me mad… I don’t expect people to go and like these books… if they did read them they might still hate them… but at least then they would know why… they could give specific reasons and have an actual argument for their side… but to blindly hate something is just pure ignorance and shows how low our society has become… it’s the blind leading the blind and it’s just sad…

  15. What a good post. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Shannon. The same goes for films, music and TV programs. I decided long ago not to worry about what others said, and to admit that I watch a certain Australian soap almost every night, love disco music and that The Sound of Music is one of my all-time favourite movies. (I read the entire Twilight series, too). Arts snobs are everywhere and need to be discouraged.

  16. I agree completely. I use Hemingway as a inspiration, but anyone can learn by reading him, that he was an egomaniac. Read whatever you want, just read! Go to library or book store, browse, and find something you like.

  17. Great article. You are absolutely correct; there is enough negative vibe out there in the world without deliberately increasing it. Focus on the good things, try and make others’ dislike an informed one instead of a herd-mentality uninformed one, and just be encouraging of others.

    Keep up the good work =)

  18. I’ve seen a lot of haters, especially on GoodReads. What you say is true – just look at the comments written about Twilight and its readers on GoodReads. I think it is so easy for people to be haters on the Internet- they can write nasty things with impunity since they don’t have to use their real names. It is also a problem on Amazon – you don’t even have to have a verified purchase to spew hate in a review.

  19. I totally agree with this post, and I’m glad you wrote it. I can’t stand it when people judge other’s reading choices just because of what people say is ‘cool’ or not. To pile hate on an author just because it’s apparently popular is an awful thing to do. That writer will have put their heart and soul into that work, and it is unfair to be so harsh about it just because of what culture says. Great post!

  20. When my husband was an American child living in Ecuador, they carried many of their personal books to and from school with them. The children used to follow he and his brother after school begging for their books. Reading is a a privilege.

  21. I have an MFA, and some people find out I like genre fiction (ho, ho, ho) and ask me “*HOW* can you like reading that stuff?”. So I always say to them you can’t live on salad alone. Variety is the spice of the reading life!

  22. This is a really good post. I don’t mind if someone hates a movie or book but it’s wrong to attack someone that does. I will joke around and say people are dumb for liking something I hate, but I will never flat out say that they are stupid. I agree that it’s great to have people read in the first place even if it’s something I may not agree with.

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