The superiority that resides with people who read non-fiction while belittling fiction has become a status quo in itself. Read ahead to see through the transparency of this choice if it’s just another preference or diluted snobbery.
I sometimes like to marvel at the lengths to which people go to attempt to establish their superiority. Every manifestation of it is amusing, pop music vs indie music, serious art films vs flying superheroes and of course, books. Modern books vs classics, fiction vs non-fiction, anything mainstream vs anything not.
All this debate stems from the belief that being accessible and easily consumable by a large number of people takes something away from art’s merit. While the poetry industry thrives on it (good for them), this is not true in the slightest. For the majority, well liked things are well liked for a reason, whether it’s Taylor Swift or Taylor Jenkins Reid, they deserve the success.
“People can be very quick to dismiss a book the second they hear it’s something from teen fiction, but those books talk about a lot of the concepts the “adult” books about, and have mature elements. Be it politics, mental health, racism. And it being in the form of fiction, a story just makes it more relatable and still teaches the teenagers a lot of what they really need to know.”
-Giana Ranjan, a student of Shri Ram College of Commerce
People who choose to identify as self-proclaimed ‘intellectuals’, usually look down upon fiction because “it doesn’t add value” and because reading, an activity most turn to for escapism and enjoyment, has to be about productivity and facts, fiction is made up non sense and hence, a waste of time. Funnily enough, this reminds of something I read in a book once, fiction of course-
“Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them.”
― Charles Dickens, Hard Times
Even people who don’t think fiction beneath them quite often tend to dismiss it’s a large part of its sub sections as food for the lesser for mortals. Teen young adult perhaps gets the worst of it. Now, stay with me here. Yes, it’s for a younger audience but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s childish in a bad way. A younger audience is also an audience less corrupted by bias and prejudice, an audience that hasn’t even explored all schools of thought yet, let alone have formed a rigid opinion on it. And this, right here, gives the author writing for these people more freedom, in every sense of the word. A YA fantasy novel will mesmerize you with the most intricate and somewhat bizarre magic system and surprise with more representation and diversity than five woke Netflix shows put together and not one bit of it will feel forced. And people who grow up on these books, these stories do not struggle with open-mindedness.
If we take The Hunger Games, as an example, anyone who has read the books will be able to attest to the fact they are a lot more complex than they might appear on the back cover synopsis. The events, the relationships, the outrage, THAT ending, it’s an amazingly well-crafted tale and it’s gets even better when you read between the lines. But, it is ultimately teen fiction and that one guy who read one Oscar Wilde book and first 20 pages of Crime and Punishment will judge it as such.
All these books are ridiculed and dismissed solely because of the demographic they’re aimed at and it’s a shame because, you know what, there is beautifully written fan fiction out there waiting and someone who can appreciate good things in all its forms will have one heck a time reading it. To conclude this on a somewhat corny note,
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
(J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Naina Priyadarshi Mishra