Blogging Buddy Jen Robinson directed my attention to A Little Stone: The Rippling Repercussions of Bookshaming by Priscilla Thomas at Nerdy Book Club. Thomas makes clear that bookshaming is not related to literary discourse. Instead, it is the "dismissive response to another’s opinion." To cross a t, here, we're talking about dismissing another's reading tastes.
Disparaging and humiliating others for any reason is not acceptable. It shouldn't be necessary to discuss it. Thomas makes some logical points apart from that. Bookshaming discourages reading, particularly in young readers or those who are struggling to read. There's nothing to be gained by it.
And yet I do it. To myself.
My comfort book/guilty pleasure reading often involves serial mysteries involving a female detective with a male counterpart with whom she develops a relationship. These series usually start out strong but become more and more about the relationship with all kinds of contrived roadblocks to true love. Usually the last few books are embarrassing. But by that point, I am too invested and have to read them all.
The first time I read one of these things, a vampire was involved. I ended up buying most of them in paperback. (Cannot recall how I stumbled upon them in the first place.) These books definitely had an erotic element, and I was worried that years later my middle-aged children would find these books among my possessions after I'd moved on to the great reading room in the sky and be absolutely horrified. So I handed them to one of my sons while he was a teenager and couldn't be bothered paying attention to anything his mother was interested in and told him to sell them on eBay.
Owning a Kindle has helped get my bookshaming under control. By that I don't mean that I'm reading things that don't cause me shame. I mean that I can do it without others knowing about it. No one sees a cover. I don't even have to buys these things from a live bookseller.
Now I'm into mysteries set in the nineteenth century. There appear to be a lot of them, and the eBook editions are not just reasonably priced, they often go on sale. So owning a Kindle has not only allowed me to indulge my shameful reading habits in privacy but also at a cost I can afford.
I foresee Kindles and other e-readers one day being inherited by their owners' offspring. A son can hold his mother's reading life in his hand. Wouldn't that be touching? Not if Mom read stuff she was afraid her kids would bookshame her for.