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~生まれた町で夢見てきた...~
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Disagreement with my prof. I'm still not convinced. 
31st-Oct-2007 11:56 pm
Winter

Do all books function as status symbols appropriate for "wallpapering" one's home or office? Even, let's say, ratty, well-thumbed Danielle Steel paperbacks?

Yea!
3(15.8%)
Nay!
11(57.9%)
Binaries do not apply here. (Leave a comment below and explain your rationale.)
5(26.3%)
Comments 
1st-Nov-2007 05:52 am (UTC)
I think I have problems with the word "status symbols" because I don't think all books are viewed the same way across class boundaries in terms of how they are viewed. A few romance novels may be perceived by more upper class as you know, a guilty indulgence where as some one more working class, the perception might be "not well read, only reads garbage."

And what do things say about people who store books in the basement, hide them from public view or use book covers to hide them? Is it a status symbol to hide your GLBT books away in the closet?
1st-Nov-2007 11:11 am (UTC)
But do, say, trashy romance novels EVER function as good "wallpaper"? Do people (of any class, generally speaking) buy mass market paperbacks by the boxload expressly to be displayed even if they never intend to read them? See, I don't think so...
1st-Nov-2007 11:30 am (UTC)
I think they can be good to a certain degree, in that they show an interest in reading, define a person as girly and interested in romance. When I was younger, I bought some by the truckload. I mostly bought them to read but not all. I was worse with science fiction. I bought lots of them and read maybe 1/3.
1st-Nov-2007 11:58 am (UTC)
So you think cultural capital (as opposed to mere personal entertainment) are romance novels' primary reason for existence? Somehow, I doubt that.

For a lot of GBLT books, yeah, one of their main purposes is (sub)cultural identification/acculturation. But, again, that's mostly about reading, not display. I don't hear many gays or lesbians talk about lavish, leather-bound editions of their GBLT books. (When you get around to lining the family room with your lesbian romances, get back to me. ^_~ )
1st-Nov-2007 12:05 pm (UTC)
No, just that in some cases, they might be. On a very limited scale.

I sold most of my lesbian romances on EBay a year ago? Before I went to Tinian. (And I recouped the cost pretty well.) Some of mine are in my closest, in my sister's room and on my sehlves. :-D

And I gave the crap ones I won't read to you! FTW!
1st-Nov-2007 03:08 pm (UTC)
No, just that in some cases, they might be.

Find me a case, then. Or explicate one.

I sold most of my lesbian romances on EBay a year ago?

Which proves my point. They were primarily for reading, not display.
1st-Nov-2007 04:15 pm (UTC)
On Tinian, some people had romance novels because there were so few books that those books were considered a symbol of more affluence and literacy. THERE. The same was pretty much true of all books. Concrete example.

But some are for display. ;-) The lesbian sex guide is for display and occasional giggles.
1st-Nov-2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
On Tinian, some people had romance novels because there were so few books that those books were considered a symbol of more affluence and literacy.

Were they purchased to read AND own or solely to display in their homes, though? You seem to be confusing cultural literacy with cultural capital to some degree, and they're not the same things.
1st-Nov-2007 04:32 pm (UTC)
Oh. I probably am confusing them. :( Today is not a happy cheerful Laura day.
1st-Nov-2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry. T_T Makes two of us, actually. I'm commuting into NYC four days this week. At least.

Doesn't mean that books can't be cross-culturally appropriated for different uses, though. But my argument with the prof. was whether or not all books published in the US are intended (from a publisher standpoint) to function more as "wallpaper" than as actual reading material. ^^;;; She thought yes...but I don't see it.
1st-Nov-2007 04:43 pm (UTC)
I'm one month in to two months of floating Europe and today, everything was closed down in Zagreb and I don't feel very social but in hostels, you're generally expected to be social. So I'm working on my wiki. :( And not other stuff I should be doing. Brain just tired and hating on people.

I go back to thinking both ways. It can be both and neither. All depends on context, the culture around it, class issues, etc. I tend to think less yes and more no though.
1st-Nov-2007 05:07 pm (UTC)
Cultural literacy: what you need to belong in your own group. Cultural capital: what you need to belong to the highest group. My question was really if all books (no matter what type they are) have the latter. Though both differ across different cultures, I still think you're thinking more along the lines of the former. ^_^;
1st-Nov-2007 06:02 am (UTC)
definitely not all books. only the intellectual kinds. I hide "junk literature" out of sight exactly for that reason (::is vain::). I nearly died from shame when a colleague discovered my secret stash of books (she was helping me move, lol! makes it hard to keep secrets!) and saw all my Sookie vampire romance novels and all that :(((
1st-Nov-2007 07:49 am (UTC)
I definitely think it depends on the type of book. There's a huge perceived status difference between a leather-bound set of "classic" books and a pile of ratty paperbacks.
1st-Nov-2007 07:55 am (UTC)
They are a symbol of my status as avid reader, and if you have lots of them on the walls no one can recognise that they are ratty any longer (or romance as are the paperbacks on a quarter/a third of my living-room walls (one quarter is manga/anime and the rest is fantasy/scifi, I have my own home office with shelves for work-related books).
1st-Nov-2007 11:09 am (UTC)
You're the only one who thinks all books are status symbols. ^_~

I guess another way of asking the question would be: Are all books objects to be displayed first, objects to be read second? I have trouble imagining most mass market paperbacks as being objects for display, not reading.
1st-Nov-2007 11:32 am (UTC)
Some lesbian romances could be objects for display to reaffirm status as a lesbian and they might be easier to read, then say more deep literature. That's one of the reasons (and a whole slew of other reasons) I kept a lot of GLBT themed books. And they were basically mass market paperbacks of a sort. :)
1st-Nov-2007 04:52 pm (UTC)
Okay, that WOULD have changed my answer. They're to be read first of all, but I also like that my living-room basically is set up as a library now. And since I buy and read lots of books, I tend to buy the mass market paperbacks.
1st-Nov-2007 08:20 am (UTC)
I agree with those who do not consider books "status symbols." If they were, my bookshelf would look decidedly different.

I get the "status symbol" books from the library when I feel like reading, say, Shakespeare or Steinbeck or Hemingway. My bookshelf at home on the other hand contains all the shallow entertainment that I like to read and reread, but the library won't stock (or which are so popular that they're always borrowed out).

Therefore, binaries do not apply here. If you love that ratty, well-thumbed Danielle Steele paperback, put it on the shelf.

If I were reading Steele, she'd end up in the immediate vicinity of my Mickey Spillane, Norman Spinrad and Richard Stark paperbacks.
1st-Nov-2007 10:44 am (UTC)
I said no, personally, since I tend to just buy books that sound interesting without really considering who else would be interested in it or what other people would think (the beauty of online ordering).. But certainly every book could be a status symbol, if you actually wanted to show it off and have people make the connection, or if you wanted it to feel some connection.. I would certainly hide a Danielle Steel paperback if anyone was coming over though ^^;
1st-Nov-2007 11:14 am (UTC)
So you would buy Danielle Steele paperbacks expressly for their value as display--even if you never intend to read them? See, I think you'd be really hard-pressed to find someone who'd admit to buying mass market paperbacks of any sort for "wallpapering" purposes.
1st-Nov-2007 11:28 am (UTC)
No, I mean if I had it to read, I wouldn’t show it off! ^_^;
1st-Nov-2007 12:11 pm (UTC)
Paperback versions of Harry Potter? I could see that happening.
1st-Nov-2007 01:58 pm (UTC)
I said no becuase anyone can turn around a buy any book. Just because you own it, and read it, doesn't mean you comprehend it.

I have Dantes "The Inferno" and have read it, but I didn't really comprehend most of it. But I think that stems from me having trouble getting threw and apprecated epic poetry.
1st-Nov-2007 02:02 pm (UTC)
I will freely admit that I have pride in my library and an occasional twinge at some of the schlock within it. However I don't try to hide said schlock and in my experience very few people give a damn about the size or intellectual depth of my library. It seems a silly way to wallpaper for status, if I was that concerned about it, I'd lean toward art.

Instead, I covet. Oh god how I covet. If you lend me a book and I read it, then it becomes "mine". Taking my books is like taking my children! My library is their home, where they are safe and warm and well loved. If I give you one of my paper-kids, you might abuse or neglect or (godforbid) throw it away. No, my library is like an oasis of safety for books, even the crappy ones.
6th-Nov-2007 06:18 pm (UTC)
I give most of my books away. The only ones that I keep are the one's that I know that I'll be referring back to, reading again, or haven't given away yet.

In my experience, if people are more impressed with your bookshelf than they are with you, then you may want to consider that you haven't gained what there is to be gained from the books - or the books are overrated.
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