I’ve been made fun of for what I read. A lot. In college, I read the Illiad on a road trip to a rowing regatta in Madison, WI — not because it was assigned, but because there was a new translation that promised to be the first since Lattimore’s that was worthy of Homer. Once I was reading War and Peace on a beach on Cape Cod. They had a lot of fun with that one. I shrugged and mumbled something to the effect of, “Sorry. It’s just too good to put down.” I don’t really know what to say when this happens. They expect me to bring literature that is merely a diversion, like a James Bond novel. A low-brow, unsophisticated page-turner. I love James Bond novels, the original ones by Ian Flemming. Funny thing: Nobody’s ever made fun of me for reading one of those.
I also read comic books. Alan Moore’s The Watchmen, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spiderman and Powers. I could go on and on. I don’t just like them — I love them. I read them in public, which invariably means that I must confront openly expressed condescension, sometimes even scorn and contempt, at my reading choices.
...The bottom line is this: When you hear someone give the impression that certain personal aesthetic choices are beneath him, or when you hear anyone say anything about art that makes it sound lofty or buys into the notion of “artistic integrity,” you’re listening to an idiotic misconception about aesthetics and taste.