In today’s New York Times, there’s an article about new words that were coined in 2006.Â One word was “Sanctimommies”: mothers who think they’re better mothers than everyone else.Â They like to criticize otherÂ women as inferior parents who commit such sins as — horrors! — letting their kids eat Cheerios.
I’m oftenÂ reminded of such sanctimoniousÂ snobs when I cruise throughÂ reader websites.Â More than once, I’ve seenÂ someone write: “I’ve never read one of his/her books, and I never will.”Â Their basis for this decision?Â They’d “heard” that those books were trash.Â Most recently I’ve seen it in reference to a certain bestselling female crime writer whose early booksÂ set theÂ standard for forensic thrillers.Â But I’ve also heard it said about Stephen King.
Now, let me tell you a story about Stephen King’s books.Â Some years ago, in honor of “Banned Books Week,” a nearby library invited authors to read aloud from their favorite banned book.Â I chose King’s first novel, CARRIE, which has been repeatedly banned from school libraries across the country.Â The audience was mostly literary folks, people who pride themselves on their reading taste.Â Â IÂ read the famous shower scene, a piece that pulses with raw energy and passion.
The audience was absolutely riveted.Â “That sceneÂ was from a Stephen King novel?” someone asked in disbelief.
It turned out that many of the listeners had never read King.Â They thought he was beneath them.Â They had heard that his books were mere horror novels.Â They had heard that they weren’t worth reading.Â SoÂ they never even gave him aÂ try.Â
I think about all the movies and books I would have missed had I relied entirely on someone else’s opinion.Â Some years ago, I was told by friends to skip seeing The Mummy remake starring Brendan Fraser because it was mere schlock.Â But I’m a nut about Egypt, so I went to see it anyway.
It is now one of my favorite all-time films.Â I own the DVD and I’ve probably watched it about half a dozen times.Â But I never would have known how much I’d love it had I not seen it for myself.
People who say they’ll never read King or Grisham orÂ CornwellÂ aren’t making a decision based on anything other than hearsay.Â Someone else has told them how to think, so they’re obeying like dumb sheep.Â They aren’t well-informed; they’reÂ lazy.Â Or, as Tabitha KingÂ once told me, “they’re basing their decisions on a pretty powerful force: ignorance.”Â And some of theseÂ peopleÂ willÂ blithely malign an author they’ve never read, because they think it makes them look smart and literary and intelligent.
I call these people “Igno-ranters.”Â Â And they seem to be rampant onÂ reader sites.
Next time you hear people say proudly, “I’ve never read one of his/her books and I never will,” Â challenge them.Â Â Ask them if they always let other people think for them.Â Ask them what other sheep-like characteristics they have.Â Â Because they aren’t independent thinkers.Â Â
No matter how smart they think they are.Â