Lately, I came across a post that made me stop for a solid ten minutes, contemplating something Albert Einstein once said: “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the universe.”

Einstein got it right.

The post was about the traits of a “true” bookworm, which ranged from owning immaculate shelves, never dog-earring your books (apparently it’s what monsters do), not reading certain genres, despising certain writers, having a wealth of knowledge when it comes to classical novels or books, not liking the movies that are based on the books, and numerous other traits .

You should now know why Einstein’s quote was necessary; it described the situation perfectly, because, to me, the post embodied infinite stupidity. Why, I hear you ask? If you’re a fellow reader, you might agree with my answer:

Shaming people for their choices when it comes to their own books is simply absurd, because it doesn’t matter how you treat your books as long as you feel good about them. You could have them stacked on the floor or kept in a safe, you could fold and mark their pages, or you might underline sentences and make notes in the margins. The point is: It shouldn’t matter.

Don’t we have enough problems with shaming already? Now we shame others for their reading habits instead of supporting them for picking up a book? After all, individuals who read are becoming much too rare. It is not your place to judge what someone likes to do with their property, let alone their mind. In fact I found myself smiling when a friend once said: “When a book is all battered up, that means it has been loved.”

In addition, there is the phenomenon of hating a book or a writer and spreading the pessimism. Just like what happened with the Twilight saga, or with some books that were highly popular and overrated. Even if the critics didn’t like them, someone out there did, and it’s unacceptable to make them feel bad about it.

The fun in reading a book is forgetting where you are, drifting away from reality where the sounds in the background become distant. It is also in hearing those imaginary footsteps, having your heart skip a beat when something unexpected happens, when fear seeps into you the same way it seeps into the characters’ hearts, and when you simply can’t let the creased pages leave your hands.

Reading a book is never about the cover, nor how many reviews it got; it’s about being trapped in a character’s mind. The more it captivates you, the more important the book should be to you. The more you relate to the character, the more it helps you when you feel down. You shouldn’t care about how many people liked or disliked the author, the novel or the plot. They don’t respond to the book the way you do and they definitely don’t know you the way you know yourself.

Finally, we should stop arguing for a second and contemplate this: who would have thought that, in the twenty-first century, we would create new things to fight over? One might think that at this point in time, many of our little problems would be gone by now, long forgotten, especially once we have pushed some of our differences aside.

Don’t we have more important matters to attend to instead of making fun of other readers? It’s important to stand together and put those thoughts aside. We all have our ways of dealing with our books, we have our own preferences regarding certain genres of books, and no one should be shaming or ashamed when it comes to this particular subject.

In the end, we know that reading is a universal pleasure (if not, then I don’t know what is). Yet, we are responsible for every word we put on the internet, because it affects others greatly, even if we don’t realize it. But that’s a subject that needs to be discussed on its own. We should support readers, read more, and teach others to read more. So, let’s get rid of all the obstacles we have willingly made and embrace a book in one hand and each other in the other.

By Yumna Husseini