The 7 Types of Readers

Standard reader: Before I explore the different kinds of readers and explain their nuances, I’d like to put forth a staple reader. What I believe to be a quite standard reader. A person who reads books. They enjoy these books. When they especially enjoy a book, they may say, “You should definitely read this” to their friends. They approach books with an open mind, always eager to find a good book to read.

Now that you know what a normal reader acts like, here are some variations on the original:

Classics Snobs: These are the sorts of people who constantly look down upon people who read contemporary fiction. They will spit on Harry Potter, turn their nose up to Jennifer Egan. That anything written now is of any value is incredulous. They worship the greats: Dickens, Dickinson, Jane Austen, Milton, Hawthorne, and Shakespeare. The problem with these people is that they believe the older the piece of work, the better it is. Examine a list of random books from 1860, and you could in fact name very few. the books that have lasted have lasted because they are very good, but they’re not the only books a person can enjoy. Classics snobs like to make-pretend that they’re much smarter than you because they read old books.

Fantasy Freaks: Teenage boys who play Dungeons and Dragons. Typically with long hair, owners of every game console imaginable. They are dedicated to several fantasy book series. They judge books by their relative thickness and if the book does not contain a goblin or knight or wizard or ork, they won’t touch it. These very committed fan boys are also readers of Magna and the classic comic books. And if you think reading so much fantasy is unhealthy or “uncool,” keep in mind it is these young men (and middle-aged men) who brought to world Lord of the Rings.

Twi-hards: Female equivalent of fantasy freaks, except probably not as adventurous. Not that all fantasy freaks are guys, but the majority of them are. Like, the fantasy freaks, they rarely deviate from a very set pattern. But while fantasy offers infinite options, their books do not. These girls usually range from 11-14 and 42-46. After reading Twilight, they latch onto anything supernatural and establish the ridiculous market still booming for “vampire books.” More specifically, vampires who seduce humans. But they will also settle for werewolves, mummies, angels, sea creatures, big foot, demons, unicorns or Frankenstein- as long as these creatures are carrying on relationships with humans. The old ladies who used to tear through chick lit and summer romance novels (the type with shirtless men on the cover) now read Twilight-inspired books. Heads up: if the tagline reads “NOT ANOTHER TWILIGHT!!!!” then that’s exactly what it is.

Philosophy Sponge: I fall into this category. The reader who reads something, absorbs it… but absorbs too much of it. Whatever way the main character acts, suddenly the reader wishes he/she were the same. Why could you have not been born a boy wizard? Why are your parents still alive when they could have died in a “car crash” leaving you with a wickedly awesome scar? Oh, why? And when we read, we suddenly find ourselves aligning ourselves with the author. Suddenly, we start writing like the author. This is sponging taken to an unhealthy stratosphere. It’s like reading every religious book possible, changing religions after each one. After finishing a book, the reader walks dazed in his new found enlightenment. But whatever epiphany he has had from reading the book, it will fade once he picks up another.
Hipsters: They read obscure books, “literary” books. Books that haven’t been released on the market yet. They buy their books at secretive underground bookstores only located in Brooklyn. They’re fine as readers until they ask, “Have you read THIS book?” or “THAT article from THAT (totally obscure) lit magazine?” And then you say, no, and feel stupid. They’re on top of new books all the time, constantly researching them when they’re not studying for their final exam for their art history degrees. (So, that’s basically all of the time).

English majors: :Like hipsters, but slightly more or less didactic depending on the way you look at it. You see, these people know books. They like to analyze books too. And sometimes they can act like classics snobs and sometimes like hipsters, but something sets them apart. They don’t simply say they “enjoy” a book. Instead, they dissect it. When you ask them about the book they’re reading, they rarely say “It’s a book about a boy who discovers he’s a wizard!” Instead, the book is a satire of disparaging social classes and the effect of religion on philosophy. Also, it totally has a talking snake and this dude with a face on the back of his head.

Those were all the different sort of readers I could think of. If you know of any more fun ones, comment below and tell me about them!

Also, I feel compelled to tell you that now that summer is officially here, I promise to actually work on that novel. You know? The one I wrote? Yeah, I should probably actually talk to agents and pursue publication on that. Well…

Quote of the day: “You get that odd cough medicine feeling—that odd tiredness that is constituted by nothing, when your throat feels ragged from not shouting, but from saying nothing. Like a familiar hallucination. A habitual nightmare.”

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About Derek Berry

Derek Berry is a novelist and spoken word poet. Derek is the author of Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County (PRA Publishing, 2016). He co-founded and organizes The Unspoken Word, a literary non-profit based out of Charleston, SC, which provides an intendent home for the poetic arts through regular readings, workshops, and community fundraisers. He is on the Executive Board of the Charleston Poetry Festival, the inaugural production of which will be Fall 2017. His work has appeared in The Southern Tablet, Cattywampus, Charleston Currents, Illuminations, RiverSedge, and other journals.He has performed in venues across the United States and Germany. He has worked as a photographer’s assistant, busboy, and bookseller. He currently works at a curation facility for Cold War History.

Posted on June 2, 2011, in Writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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