Confessions of a Recovering Contrarian
Allow me to vent for one second. May I?
For years, I was one of those people who didn’t read a book or watch a movie simply because “everyone else was doing it.” I was, and still am at times, a contrarian.
Yeah, I was a nonfiction snob, too, so I obviously had many issues. Nonetheless, I forged onward in my daily life, content to yell “nay!” to your “yay!” and “black!” to your “white!”
Then Harry Potter came around. Actually, my wife and her love of the Harry Potter books came around. And, one summer evening, either out of blinding love of my future spouse or out of sheer curiousity, I chose to read the first Harry Potter book.
Then, for the next two or three months, I read all six books that had been published at the time. After that, I patiently waited with millions of teenagers, housewives, and other in-the-closet Harry Potter readers for the final book in the series to come out.
I loved the books. J.K. Rowling’s writing is exceptional. The story is unbelievably creative and detailed. Everything about the Harry Potter series is first-class.
At some point while reading the series, probably after the first 50 pages of the first book, I realized how petty and stupid I was for refusing to read any of these books for years. And why? Because everyone else was reading them.
This post at Book Riot reminded me of that whole experience. It reminded me of that time in my life when I was such a pretentious contrarian when it came to stuff like Harry Potter. I was too good for it, I thought.
And you know the truth about it? People who don’t read something just because it’s popular are just as shallow as people who only read something because it’s popular. There’s no difference. Both are motivated by other people’s opinions, not their own likes and dislikes.
This 101 Books project has given me the opportunity to really distinguish between what I like and what I dislike, without worrying about the hype either way. The critics loved The Sound and The Fury? That’s great, but I didn’t. The critics loved Catch 22? That’s great. Me too!
The problem with always taking a contrarian viewpoint is you just wear yourself out. You spend so much time sticking your finger in the air to judge which way popular opinion is blowing that you have no time left to think for yourself.
It’s exhausting. Just as exhausting as the guy who spends all his money trying to wear the right clothes, go to the right movies, drive the right cars, and say all the cool words– like “awesome sauce” and “epic”—just because it’s the cool thing to do.
So when it comes to books, or anything else for that matter, stop caring about what people think. Stop reading The Hunger Games just because everyone else is doing it, and stop NOT reading The Hunger Games because everyone else is doing it. Read what you want to read–even (cough!) if it’s Twilight.
Okay, got that out of the way. Now, have you guys read To Kill A Mockingbird? OMG! You must read To Kill A Mockingbird! How have you not read To Kill A Mockingbird?