The Levels of Genre-Snobbery

Since becoming a book blogger it has been impossible for me to ignore the concept of genre-snobbery. It is everywhere. People (including me!) are always talking about it, blogging about it, yada yada yada.

But what is genre-snobbery, really? How does one know if they are a genre snob?

You have come to the right place for questions! Through a series of extremely scientific studies (a.k.a I sat around and thought about it for approximately five minutes) I have determined that everyone fits into one of four levels of genre snobbery. While there may be some variations out there (people who are cool with fantasy but hate on Dan Brown), I think you’ll find that this holds near UNIVERSAL truth.

I have spoken.

Level 1: Non-snob

“I’ll read anything.”

The Non-Snob is much like myself prior to book blogging and exists in a happy bubble where they don’t know even know genre-snobbery is a thing. While they may have preferred genres and genres they don’t read, it’s purely a preference thing. Likewise, they throw judgement on nobody for their reading habits. The Non-Snob is open to new reading experiences and is always ready to try something different.

Level 2: Romance-hater

“Genre fiction is fine, but I draw the line at Harlequin romance novels. That’s trash!”

The Romance-Hater enjoys “respectable” genres, especially science fiction and fantasy, and is probably very invested in the Hugo awards. They love classic genre fiction like Philip K. Dick and Agatha Christie. But they can’t understand why anyone would waste their time on smut like romance novels. Those are barely even real books! The romance-hater is excited to talk to you about their favorite genre fiction, but as soon as they find out you read romance suddenly finds that your opinion isn’t worth their time. They may also have a similar disdain for Dan Brown, pulp westerns, and magazines.

Level 3: The Ageist

“As long as it isn’t young adult…”

The Ageist enjoys genre fiction, but has determined that young-adult books aren’t acceptable reading for adults. The Ageist often wonders when people will “grow out” of their YA phase and join them reading chick-lit, which for some reason is such an improvement. The Ageist also likely has a disdain for Harlequin and other pulp romance, but if female may secretly enjoy a good contemporary romance. They just would never admit it out loud. The Ageist is probably either a man or a woman of 50+ years. The ageist likely especially enjoys Space Opera, Grimdark, and/or Crime if male, Chick-Lit and Mysteries if female.

Level 4: The True-Snob

“Genre fiction just can’t compare to real literature.”

The True-Snob reads almost exclusively literary fiction, though they may also enjoy obscure classics and Jane Eyre. The true-snob can often be heard discussing the importance of consuming high-quality literature in order to be a cultured member of society, and follows awards lists closely. The say the words “Chick-lit” absolutely dripping with disdain. They have likely read some genre fiction (like, three books), and will happily wax poetic to you about all the ways it is sub-par. Most importantly, the True-Snob will always emphasize that they are not a genre snob, but that they just have “excellent taste”.

So where do you fall? It’s okay, you can be honest! Let me know in the comments (which are a judgement-free zone!).


58 thoughts on “The Levels of Genre-Snobbery

  1. There is no accounting for taste.

    I don’t care what folks read, so long as they read. I was tempted to be snobby when the Twilight books were big, but then I thought, thank Goodness they are drawing people to reading.

    I am a ‘the movie was okay, but the book was better’ sort of snob.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am still an anti-romance snob. BUT BUT BUT! At least I’m willing to let other people have their guilty pleasure, except I know that guilty pleasure isn’t a thing and nobody should feel guilty about what they read. Ah!! Anyway, I’m improving.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I actually asked what’s genre snobbery when I read this title. I’m happy to know I’m non-snob. I read almost everything. I don’t read non-fictions as I feel i don’t how to generate an opinion on something that is real for somebody. Who am I to judge! I don’t like erotica. i read one or two book but I just don’t extreme sexuality and plus I don’t enjoy it as well. I need something in book other than just sex. i also don’t read poetry because I’m no literary person and if there’s too complex structure, you’ve lost me. I wouldn’t read something that is hard to understand for me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am so not enjoying of sexuality that I don’t even enjoy romance novels, so I feel you on the erotica. Ick. I also don’t read poetry, mostly because I don’t get it. Even simple poetry goes over my head. I have started reading more non-fiction, though, and when I find something interesting I always REALLY enjoy the book.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ll read almost anything and have really expanded my horizons the past few years (I was mainly mystery, up to that point). There are certainly genres that aren’t my first choices, but I won’t say never. Because of a few books I had picked up at the library book sale before the pandemic hit, I’ve gotten into “foodie books” (is that a genre???). I just finished and loved “Save Me the Plums,” by Ruth Reichl, and now I’ve started “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” by Richard C. Morais. So good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, foodie books is definitely its own genre. But I’m with you, there are some genres that just aren’t for me, but I won’t judge you for reading it. Like food books. I just … don’t care about food. But if you do yay I’m glad you found something to love! You know?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For me, it’s not so much the food, especially since I’m now a vegetarian (note so self, look for a food book about a vegetarian restaurant!). I’m intrigued with stories of food writers/critics, chefs, restaurant owners, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, you forgot the Realist! You know that I-only-read-non-fiction-because-fantasy?-why-would-you-read-something-that-could-never-happen-snob. I guess it’s a sub-snob of the True-snob. πŸ˜‰
    I think I’m still a non-snob although there are probably still genres I’d rather not read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I decided to leave non-fiction out because I know a lot of people who only like non-fiction, but not in a snobby way. I feel like that’s a whole other thing, because there’s also fiction snobs who think people reading non-fiction are doing it wrong. Fiction v. non-fiction might need its own post.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I consider myself a Level One, lol. I try and read many different genres, and am actually branching out recently. For a long time, I didn’t like to read contemporary novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! I tend toward lit fic these days, but I have nothing against romance or YA and still read both when the mood strikes. It definitely bothers me when anyone is shamed (however lightly) for their reading choice! It’s all good. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great post. Here are two more subtypes of true-snob:

    Vintage Genre – will read and praise ‘genre fiction’ if it was published long enough ago to call it a classic instead – Frankenstein, Dracula, War of the Worlds.

    I’ll Do It Right – the sci-fi writer who somehow thinks that most sci-fi is just explosions and robots, whereas *they* will use it to look askance at the human condition, something nobody else has ever done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahahaha, so true! I think classics snobs are a whole other thing, and it’s such an interesting phenomenon. I used to be a *terrible* classics snob. But I find people who think that sci-fi is just robots and aliens to be terribly funny, because like, sci-fi has ALWAYS been about the human condition. A la Frankenstein, right? Whatever, they’re fun to laugh at. πŸ˜›

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m pretty much a non-snob. I usually don’t like YA, but I don’t think I’m a YA snob, because I don’t look down on people who do like YA, and if the premise really grabs me, I’ll read a YA every once in awhile.

    The snobs for classics are the most annoying people. Most of today’s classics were mass market “trash” back in their day. Jane Austen was a bit of a snob. She thought Jane Eyre was trash, and actually most people would have agreed with her. Gothic novels were the Romantic Era’s Soap Operas.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know, classic snobs are the worst! I feel like I can say that as a reformed classic snob. It’s so funny, because our opinion about literature changes so drastically over time and out of context, but you’re right, the gothic novels were the equivalent of Harlequin romance novels in Austen’s day. And now we’re like, it’s LITERATURE. But I think classic snobbery is a direct result of how difficult it is to find a book you like in a market with SO MANY CHOICES. Like, you know a classic is going to be good, because people are still reading it for a reason. I don’t know if random-book-z is going to be amazing or lackluster. *shrug*


  9. Lol I am still a non-slob to be honest simply because I will respect anyone who reads (and seriously judge those who think reading is boring). I love YA books as much as I love Classics, though it’s rare for me to pick up a Chick Lit or Romance, especially NA Romance–they all seem to have the same plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel the same way about Chick-Lit, but have recently come to appreciate it. You could say the same about YA romances, so I think it’s just what appeals to you at what time in your life.


  10. I’m not a snob at all, though I have preferences and phases. I like romances, mysteries, family dramas, some paranormal, some young adult, books with or about animals, some nonfiction (usually about health or humor or writing or animals). I haven’t read many westerns or dystopian lit.


    1. I haven’t read many westerns either, but I’ve got Lonesome Dove on my list for this summer! I think everybody has preferences, but the difference between a snob and preferences is (I think) whether you place value judgement on the genres you don’t care for. For example, I don’t really like thrillers, but if other people do that’s good for them!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I am a pretty eclectic reader with lots of genres on my shelf. There are some genres that I don’t read because I just don’t enjoy them, but I would never shun or shame anyone else for reading them. Being a retired teacher librarian, if they are reading, that is good. I guess that makes me a non-snob.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post and WOW to the comments – I’ve enjoyed following the conversation. I would probably class my self as a non-snob. I read more or less most genres and I don’t really care what others read – I do like quality thou! A well-edited book is SO important.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh I think I’m a non-snob! I’ll read most things if they grab me within the first chapter, but I do struggle at the moment to find something that grabs me at all. I think I’m just out of the habit of reading. I’m trying to get back into it.

    Liked by 1 person

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