Previously published on Words are My Weapons
Be honest. Have you ever read a book just because your friends were or because the internet buzz was too great to resist? I have and even if you won’t admit it, I know some of you out there have too.
Admittedly, the pressure to read a popular book is self-inflicted and largely in my head. But there have been times when I’ve felt like the girl in junior high who just wants to sit at the cool table. When everyone around you is chatting about a hot book, fangirling over characters and sharing inside jokes and references, when the whole of the internet is posting memes that make no sense to you and you have less than zero percent of a clue about any of it, well…it’s hard not to feel left out. Then OH MY GOD THEY ARE MAKING A MOVIE OF THE BOOK and everyone is squealing with delight and you get swept up in the excitement and you just want to be a part of it all. That’s when it happens. That’s the moment you find yourself reading things you aren’t truly interested in and that in your secret heart of hearts, you don’t even really like.
This is the story of one such moment.
It’s the story of how I came to read ALL of the Twilight books and watched every…single…movie. It’s the story of how I betrayed my literary soul just to belong.
Let me start by saying that I’m not here to knock the Twilight books, Stephenie Meyer, or most importantly the fans of the book and movies. Taste in all things is subjective and I respect the right of everyone to enjoy things whether or not I enjoy them too. So just go ahead and unruffle your Twilight-loving feathers…right now…I’ll wait… are we good?
A few years ago, I made some new friends who were big Twilight fans, a book I previously had zero interest in reading. A few months before the final Twilight movie was being released, they began to make plans to attend the premier showing. Up until that moment, I had somehow magically managed to tune-out the Twilight frenzy. Then quite literally overnight, I realized that the world around me was talking and obsessing about Twilight. Tumblr, Facebook and Pinterest overflowed with memes and I began to notice the references everywhere. I noticed other friends talking about the books and choosing “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”, words that meant absolutely nothing to me. People were shocked, I mean open-mouthed SHOCKED when I admitted that I’d never read any of the books and that I didn’t even know who Robert Pattison or Kristen Stewart was.
I began to think that maybe I was missing out on something here. I wanted to understand the fervor and more importantly, I wanted to be a part of it. So when I was invited to join my friends for the movie premier, I eagerly accepted. I am one of those people who likes to read the book before the movie, so I did. Except of course, this was the final movie, which meant I had a lot of reading and watching to do in order to catch up. I honestly didn’t hate the books, but they were not at all my taste. If I read about vampires and werewolves, I expect some death. I expect a lot of death actually. I expect suffering and darkness and bloodshed. I do not expect romance. Did I mention I hate romance and happy endings? Like most books though, the books were better than the movies. I suffered through those movies, I mean suffered. There should have been an award for getting through those.
I should have given up after the first book or at least by the second, definitely by the third. I mean, the fourth and last book was a massive time commitment at 768 pages long! Somewhere in there, I should have just simply said, “This is just not for me guys.” But I didn’t. I wanted to be included in the fun, so I pushed aside that little part of me that was screaming at me to PUT THE PRETTY VAMPIRE ROMANCE BOOK DOWN! I stuffed that part of me down really deep, covered it up with cupcakes and kept on reading and watching, every last page and every last minute.
Since the days of the Twilight incident, I’ve been tempted to read other books just because everyone else I knew was reading them or because THE INTERNET TOLD ME SO. I’ve resisted jumping on that book bandwagon “just because”. I’ve even cautiously countered a few book recommendations with a suspicious “is this at all Twilight-y?” just to be sure.
Does this mean I won’t read anymore books that are popular with friends or the entire internet? Not at all. But I am spending more time seeking out books I like regardless of what anyone else I know thinks of them. This means that I may miss out on being a part of conversations with friends. It means not getting some jokes and references on social media. It means not reading every book that has a movie coming out in the theater just because I want to ride that wave. Ultimately, it means thinking my tastes are important and worthy too and that it’s ok if I don’t like everything the people I know like.
I’m good with that.