This is a guest post from Patty Anton. Patty Anton’s love of reading can be traced back to the historical days of Gossip Girl, when she just couldn’t wait for her high school classes to be over to find out what Serena van der Woodsen was up to. She then went through the obligatory Twilight phase, and would like to think her reading tastes have matured since then (however she did just binge watch The Vampire Diaries on Netflix last week, oops). Patty has her masters degree in Human Resources & Labor Relations from Michigan State University and currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her black lab Maisie. She can often be found en route to Starbucks or unashamedly avoiding the human race so she can read another chapter of her current YA/Fantasy obsession.
Whether you work in an office environment or have just watched episodes of The Office, you’re probably familiar with the term “Water Cooler Talk.” Typically, you’re not actually at a water cooler when having these talks (because only about 5% of the total office population still has one of those things), but they involve asking your coworker what their plans for the weekend are, how their day is going, etc. Now, we can delve into all the deep dark horrors of Office Small Talk later (which, there are A LOT let me tell you), but typically my conversations go something like this:
Me: Hey, Happy Friday!
Coworker: How’s it going?
Me: Good, you?
Coworker: Great, really looking forward to going to the big game this weekend. Do you have any plans?
Me: Nope, nothing crazy at the moment. I’ll probably just run errands and meet up with some friends.
Is there anything wrong with this interaction? Aside from the fact that it’s dull as doornails, not really. Except, when you add in the fact that I’m lying through my teeth, it becomes a smidge more problematic. Because what I really want to say is this:
Coworker: Do you have any plans?
Me: Oh my gosh, YES. The new Throne of Glass novel by Sarah J. Maas just came out this week and I’ve been DYING to start reading it. I’ve been waiting a year for this—this one’s only in Chaol’s perspective though, which is a bit of a bummer, but I’ll take all the Sarah J. Maas I can get, you know? So I’ll probably swing by Target and grab a bottle of $5 red wine and Chips Ahoy before I go back home on Friday, sit on my couch, and dive into it. If all goes well, I won’t have to head back out into the real world until Monday. It’s going to be SO great!
Now, I realize that response is a bit much for the unspoken rules of Water Cooler Talk, but you get the point. I mean, even if I just responded with, “Oh, there’s this book I’ve really been wanting to read that just came out, so I’m planning on starting that this weekend,” I still have to deal with the inevitable, “Oh really, what book? I hear Cheryl Sandberg just released a new one” reply. And then I have to try to explain an epic fantasy series plot line in one sentence, which is practically impossible: “No it’s not by her, it’s actually by this author named Sarah J. Maas—she’s a really popular YA Fantasy author. It’s her newest book in a series about an assassin and these Fae warriors that fight…” And then I usually get an, “oooookay” look from my coworker before they swiftly change the subject.
Is this is an overgeneralization of the conversations about books in Corporate America? Yes, but my point’s still valid: it’s a tough world out there for an adult who likes YA in the business world. By talking about the books you like to read, you risk the chance of being looked at like you’re crazy, being written off as being immature or unprofessional, or being just plain ignored by your peers. Regardless, my advice is this: talk about the books you want to talk about! Does you liking to read young adult books hurt anyone else? Nope. Does reading YA books hurt you? Nope again. You’re allowed to read whatever books you want to read and spend your weekends how you want to spend them! If you want to fangirl about the latest Throne of Glass novel, then you can and you should. If someone’s going to judge you or think less of you because you’re reading “book candy” or “kids books” or “who really reads books for fun nowadays anyway?” then let them and forget about them. And be sad for them because they’re never going to experience the epicness of (Throne of Glass Series spoiler!) an orphaned assassin turned Fae warrior queen partnering with badass witch clans to defeat Valg kings. And that’s very, very sad.
Read what you want. If you want to read Lean In, then read Lean In. But, if you want to read Tower of Dawn, then read Tower of Dawn and don’t you dare be ashamed about it. And then, hopefully, one day you’ll meet another corporate-america-working-young-adult-book-loving coworker who will respond with, “Oh my gosh, please tell me you read The Assassin’s Blade first, because you NEED to read that before Tower of Dawn” and have the best Water Cooler conversation ever. And if not, that’s what the internet is for, right?