Bookish Stereotypes

This post was very much inspired by Sabrina @ Wordy & Whimsical’s post. Last year, when I was reading her post that listed lies about reading and being a reader, I started thinking about the ways in which I defied bookworm stereotypes. And immediately one big thing jumped out at me. I’m majoring in engineering.

Now you probably already knew that and are really confused why I’m making such a big deal about it. Well, let me clue you in. There seems to be a very big divide when it comes to what your major is in college. There are the liberal arts people and there are the STEM people. And some people will take what you’re majoring in and make a whole bunch of assumptions based on that. One such assumption is that if you’re majoring in engineering, or any other STEM related field, you’re just a big geek who loves computers, coding, video games etc. You certainly can’t like art, or literature, or theatre! You’re an engineering major after all. You like math. Well I’m here to prove those people wrong. (Except for the part about being a geek and liking math. That part is true.)

Calculate Adventure Time GIF

Now, I want to make the disclaimer that most of the people creating this big divide aren’t other bloggers. There are plenty of people in the online bookish community that are pursuing scientific fields of various forms. And never once have I felt less than when I mentioned my engineering major on the blog. But regardless of the source of this stereotype, I’ve definitely felt it being applied to me.

For one thing, even my decision to major in engineering came as a surprise to a lot of people. Growing up I was always reading. I’d take trips with my friends to Barnes & Noble on vacation days. I was always asking to go to the library, where the librarians knew me by name. And so when it came time to start considering colleges and majors, almost everyone in my life assumed I wanted to go into publishing! But that had never really crossed my mind, to be honest. I’ve considered several career options, but I’ve always known that while I love reading enough to dedicate time to it as a hobby in the form of blogging, I never wanted to be a writer or become part of the publishing world. I read to relax and to enjoy myself, and I try to keep my reading as stress free as possible because of that.

read suicide squad GIF

Math and science on the other hand, were the natural choices for me to gravitate towards in terms of a career. I enjoyed learning more about those subjects and went out of my way to take classes to learn more about how the world works and rules by which our existence is governed. Even now, several years into my degree, I know I made the right choice my pursuing a scientific field.

On top of choosing a STEM field, I find that a lot of times readers want to become writers. And while I’d be lying if I said I haven’t considered it once or twice, I’ve never had the urge to sit down and write. I enjoy blogging, and writing short discussions and reviews, but coming up with fictional tales isn’t my forte! I always feel like a fraud for some reason when NaNoWriMo comes around and everyone starts discussing their plans and stories, and I have nothing to contribute.

Pretending Gravity Falls GIF

But then again, I’d like to make the case that my lack of writing experience and the fact that I’m majoring in engineering leads to my bringing unique skills to book blogging. After all, I’m being trained to analyze things in every one of my classes, and I feel that I bring that to blogging and writing as well. My skill just doesn’t lie in creating words, but rather in editing and breaking down words. I think that’s part of why reviewing didn’t come naturally to me at first. I was approaching it as a writing assignment instead of an analysis of the story. Once I changed my approach, it became a lot easier for me to write reviews. My discussions have always been analyses, which is probably why I always had so much fun writing them. It played to my strengths.

I think that everyone brings something unique to blogging, and for me I think that my love for engineering helps me bring a unique perspective. School may take over my life during the semester, but in the end I bring back what I learned into this blog that I love. For me there’s no disparity between the fact that I love to read and I love STEM. I combine the two every day in new and interesting ways! So to those of you who are struggling and thinking that you have to choose one or another, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to! People are allowed to enjoy more than one hobby, and there’s no real reason why any two hobbies should ever contradict one another, no matter what other people think!

What are your non-bookish hobbies? What are you majoring in or do you plan on majoring in? In what way do you not fit the reading stereotype?

31 thoughts on “Bookish Stereotypes

  1. I love this post!! I am a math student too and this hit exactly the right points! Reading is a hobby I’ve enjoyed since I was really small. Yeah I love maths and am sometimes an obsessive geek, but that doesn’t make me any less of a reader! Thanks for sharing this💛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I always love finding other people that enjoy STEM fields just as much as they enjoy a good book! I don’t see why so many people think that you have to choose between one or the other! I can easily take an interest in more than one thing!

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  2. Malka, I LOVE this post! As a math major and English minor, I relate to this on so many levels! I’ve always gotten the weird looks from “the other side” whenever I mention that I love both and am good at them, as if they should naturally exclude one another. My English professors are always a little baffled as to why I don’t switch to majoring in literature or linguistics… Funnily enough, though, a lot of my fellow math students are readers, too! The only thing many of them don’t get is my crazy passion for creative writing 🤣 It sounds like that’s not really your thing either – though judging by your blog posts, I’d definitely say you have the talent 😉 – but I am perfectly content writing my master’s thesis about hyperelliptic curves and fictional stories on the side. I just think it’s important to do what you love, and not limit yourself into any boxes of what someone thinks a typical “reader”/”STEM student”/etc. should be doing 💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thank you! I honestly just don’t get the divide. Why can’t a person have multiple interests? Math and reading don’t contradict one another. They just happen to be different fields. I really love how you incorporated both your love for both math and reading into your college experience!

      Creative writing isn’t my thing, but thank you so much for the sweet compliment! I feel like my blog posts fall under the non-fiction category, even if they might be creative, and for some reason that’s a lot easier for me to write about. I can easily discuss facts, but coming up with full scenes and situations is not my forte.

      And I couldn’t agree more! Do what you love, and if you love many things, feel free to spend time on each and every thing that you enjoy! You’re no less of a reader for loving math, and you’re no less of scientist for loving art! The divide between the arts and sciences is ridiculous, since some of the most interesting things occur when the two get combined!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I completed my major in pharmacy in 2012. I agree with your point. But unlike most I discovered I love reading novels after I finished my education. If I have known I loved reading since childhood I would have done my major in English or something else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, wow! Pharmacy is one of those jobs that fascinates me!

      That’s a really interesting point. For me I’ve loved reading since I was a kid and got more interested in math and science once I was older. And I think that even if I hadn’t majored in engineering, I probably wouldn’t choose majoring in literature as my next choice. But then again, each person chooses their major differently! For me, I focused more on what career I’d enjoy rather than which classes I might enjoy, but I totally understand wanting to major in something that you love learning about, even if you don’t end up working in that field!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! It’s really nice to hear about bloggers who have lives that aren’t all about books. Just to know that not everyone has studied English or Creative Writing or whatever because I definitely agree with you that a different background means different kinds of posts, and that’s great! And I very much relate to you saying that you didn’t have an interest in writing books yourself or pursuing a career in publishing. I didn’t either, but it feels like everyone else has those goals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s actually really funny, because at this point most of my life is consumed with school and that means it’s a lot more math and science focused than anything else! But the reason I blog is to have a break from all that and to force myself to spend time on my other passion, reading!

      It’s interesting, because I love books and I love analyzing the written world, but I can’t see myself enjoying it in any form resembling a career. Blogging is as close to being a professional reader that I want to get. But I know that I’m in the minority, and I can understand why. Sometimes you want to be fully immersed in your passion, but for me, having two passions means I got to choose the one I thought I’d enjoy more as a career!

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  5. Great post Malka, and thanks for mentioning my old one – that notification came as a surprise!!
    I totally understand what you mean about the assumptions people make about you as a result of your major. And I relate to what you’ve said about NaNoWriMo and feeling like a fraud, lol.
    I have had a long journey in tertiary education (that has all led to nothing, so far, except a certificate in floristry that turns out will not help me get a job), but at one stage I was doing a double degree in science and art :’) I was majoring in zoology and minoring (is that a word?) in literature. I hated the literature classes so much and dropped them almost immediately. So, I would definitely say that is a way I don’t fit the reading stereotype, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ve had the idea for this post since I read your fantastic post, but being the procrastinator that I am, I only got around to writing out my thoughts a few weeks ago. Oooops!

      I think when it comes to NaNoWriMo, I also just feel left out, since so many readers are also writers, and I’m only a part of one community.

      I’m sorry that your tertiary education didn’t lead you to the job you wanted, but I think a certificate in floristry is so cool! What random facts did you learn about flowers by getting that certificate?

      I think part of why I never took any literature classes in college was because I would hate being forced to read a book and analyze it in a particular way. I love analyzing books on my own, but I just couldn’t see myself writing essays about the books I read from 4 years straight! I have a hard enough time reviewing the occasional book here on the blog!

      But honestly, as much as I don’t fit the reading stereotype, I’m definitely a reader down to my bones!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, better later than never 🙂

        Hmm it’s not that random, but I learnt how to (try) and fix a rose when its head is drooping? (If it has an air embolism, you can trim the stem under warm water and it has the potential to fix it – if you didn’t already know this). Also that the stock flower is no good to keep in the same water as other flowers in the storeroom because it makes everything smell like rotten cabbage.

        Totally understand that reasoning behind not taking literature classes!

        You sure are 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ahhh I love this post so much!! As someone with a zillion different hobbies, I totally agree with you and it’s awesome the way you’re embracing how your engineering background gives you a unique spin on blogging. One of my favourite non-bookish hobbies is basketball and I guess that’s another anti-stereotype? I feel like a lot of people generally assume bookish people aren’t sporty people. I also didn’t major in anything books or writing related (I did anthropology and archaeology and later went on to specialise in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology) and actually…my high school subjects that involved literary analysis were the ones I didn’t do as well in, even though I enjoyed them!

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    1. Thank you! Oh, yes! Just because reading isn’t an active hobby doesn’t mean that readers can’t enjoy other hobbies that involve more movement!

      I think that it’s easiest to put people in categories, so people decide that if you’re a reader you must only like things associated with reading, but that’s just not true. Every person is layered and can have several different seemingly contradictory hobbies!

      I actually enjoyed analyzing the books we read in high school, but I realized that I wouldn’t enjoy it if every class I took required me to do the same sort of analysis! Part of why I chose engineering was because you learn a lot of different skills, so each class is teaching you something new. And I have blogging for when I want to analyze the hell out of a book, which happens from time to time!

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  7. I love this post! I got my CS degree in ’17 and I definitely remember that perception and judgment of the ‘other side’. I’m also involved in music which was a little more acceptable to STEM students, but my enjoyment of reading and writing brought up a ton of confusion. I was pretty unbothered by reading assignments as well as writing essays, labs, and documentation, and I was definitely an outlier in that regard! But I am glad I have multiple hobbies because even though it gets overwhelming, I love bringing them all together like you said. There are definitely really cool ways to cross over all of our hobbies, no matter how different they might be!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s weird that we even have these “sides”. People are complex! They can have multiple interests that aren’t all related to one another!

      I found all the reading and writing I had to do for my liberal arts class to be pretty enjoyable, but I still struggle with the technical reports and labs. The way I write for a lab is very different than how I’d write an essay, and that translates into more work for the more scientific papers.

      I actually don’t have very many hobbies, although my interests are broad. And those interests don’t always seem to fit with one another, but who ever said they had to? All my interests make me who I am, and I get to play around with ways of bringing them together in creative ways that someone who is only interested in one area could never! Basically, I’m a reader and I’m an engineer (to be) and I couldn’t be more proud of either identity!

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  8. This is such an awesome post! I can definitely see how that gets old- like why can’t you like more than one kind of thing? I was a swimmer from the time I was 7 though college, and I always wanted to do something swimming-related, and I think people don’t equate athletics with reading either. Of course, there are like, three swimming-adjacent jobs out there and since I don’t have one of them, that is a moot point heh. Heck, I am beyond impressed that you know what you want to be! I have NO IDEA. Which is, admittedly, terrifying, but a topic for another time. I hate ALL the stereotypes tbh. Like- when people say “all bookish people are introverts” no that isn’t how that works! I also wholly agree that our differences are what makes blogging work- I don’t want to read about a carbon copy of myself, I want to read about others’ lives and experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And yes! It can get super frustrating! Like, I didn’t stop reading once I started majoring in engineering. (Okay, I’m reading less, but that’s just the workload, not lack of interest or desire). In fact, I started blogging only after I had decided to major in something that wasn’t book related!

      Yes! Stereotypes are the worst! And they’re even more annoying when people don’t even understand the stereotypes they’re placing on you! Recently someone who knows me pretty well told me I couldn’t be an introvert because I enjoy talking too much? I mean, we don’t have time to unpack all of that, but I’m pretty sure that I know best if I’m an introvert or not, and how that influences my life. Not all introverts are quiet and readers, just like not all extroverts are party animals. Since I’m getting way off topic, I’m just going to say that people are way more complex than any stereotype can ever do justice.

      And I think that’s why I love discussions most of all! It allows me to see a different facet of people I know through the internet. We may agree on one topic, but have very different opinions about something else! Even reviews are based on how readers connect with the stories they pick up, and two people with very similar tastes can have wildly different reactions to the same book because of that!

      Thank you for allowing me to rant about how much I enjoy complexity and diversity as something to be celebrated instead of feared. It’s just lovely to find other people with similar experience that understand that people are allowed to be multi-faceted.

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    1. It was only through writing this post that I even realized that I use my STEM skills while blogging, but it made me so happy to realize that I learned how to combine the two so well!

      And I definitely love how everyone comes to blogging with such different skills and perspectives! It makes for so many lovely discussions where people bring up topics through lenses I would never have considered on my own, and I think that’s wonderful!

      Like

  9. This rings pretty true for me! I work in STEM but got my BA in English, mostly because I needed a major I was good at (reading, creative writing) when my first choice of Marine Biology failed me. But being a reader when you work in STEM is, I think, a boon- you understand communication, pacing, the effect of language on understanding, continuity, and so on, intrinsically through your hobby.

    (I’m also assuming part of why anyone was surprised you were going into engineering is because you’re female, and STEM is still biased that way, frustratingly). Well done, though- it’s a tough field but a valued one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, there are definitely many benefits to being a reader in a STEM field, just like how being a STEM student as a book blogger gives me a unique perspective! People are so quick to separate the arts from STEM that they can’t see all the many places where the two frequently overlap!

      I think there is some truth to what you’re saying about gender bias, but I think that mostly people were just confused why I didn’t choose publishing. Even if I had chosen a more typically female career path, I believe I would have heard similar responses, but I guess I’ll never know!

      Thank you! I’m enjoying learning new things each day, and I look forward to putting what I learn into practice sometime soon!

      Like

  10. In my blogging journey, most female bloggers I’ve run into are in the STEM fields. I didn’t major in anything because lots of reasons, namely because I’m a dissociative identity disorder (DID) system of 15 — and this is why I don’t fit into the reading stereotype, because I’m a “mood reader”, except…it’s more that I just can’t read like other people because I’m not always me.~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting because now that I think about it, I do know a lot of other female bloggers in the STEM field. I think that may be part of the reason why I mentioned that this way more of a universal issue, than specifically a blogging one.

      I really appreciate the way you described how your DID affects your reading. I hear how it makes reading, and particularly choosing what to read, more difficult, but I hope that it’s still something that you’re able to enjoy!

      Like

  11. I love this post! I am a doctor and people get so confused when they realise that I read more fiction than non-fiction LOL! I also make a conscious effort to connect with people who don’t fit the “bookish stereotype” because I find it a lot more interesting to see how they fit their reading into their routines. Reading has been something I have loved since forever and I used to ace all my English Literature exams, but I still chose Medicine and I am gravitating more towards an academic medical post. Interesting how life turns out sometimes!

    Thanks for this great post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      I honestly don’t understand that train of thought! There are so many doctors out there! You can’t expect them all to enjoy non-fiction more than fiction! Of course there are going to be fiction readers who became doctors!

      And I think that even the biggest readers struggle to find time to read, but it definitely is more interesting when people surprise you by being readers because you had made some sort of judgement about them. People who don’t fit the stereotype of a reader are fantastic though, since they tend to have unique perspectives on the books they pick up!

      Same with me! I love reading and always have, but for my career I decided to stick with the math and science love I have.

      So glad you enjoyed! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a great post! I’m glad you mentioned not only bookish stereotypes, but also stereotypes in general. They may not be a national issuse or have special laws dedicated to them, but they are important too. These stereotypes affect people, don’t they?

    I’m in class 9 and have not decided what I want to major in yet. But I’m leaning towards Astrophysics. I don’t want to finalize just yet, and simply want to enjoy school and extracurriculars.

    One stereotype that I face is Fiction Writing. Most of the book bloggers are writers. ( And it’s emphasised a lot in Monthly Wrap-Ups) When I say I love books and am a book blogger, the first question I’m hit with is “Are you working on a novel?”

    Why does being a book blogger mandate that I also have to be a fiction writer? . I’m simply a blogger and sometimes a non-fiction writer who loves to read books.

    I’m really glad that you put forward this point in your post, Malka

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      Yup! It started off with book related aspects, but then I decided to just discuss stereotypes in a more broad sense for a bit, because all kinds of stereotypes frustrate me. People are so shocked whenever someone doesn’t fit their perception of something and I just don’t get it! Everyone is unique! That’s what makes each person interesting!

      It makes sense that you don’t have your career all figured out yet. You definitely still have time! But astrophysics does sound cool, if that’s what you end up choosing! You definitely should enjoy your time in school though! Even having some idea of what you want to do is a great start!

      I definitely agree with you here. While I don’t mind reading about how everyone’s works in progress are going, it still makes me feel like a bit of a fraud to be a reader but not a writer. Again, I think it just has to do with the way people group things together in their mind. To most people, reading and writing fit the same basic mold, and therefore there’s an expectation that most people enjoy both. And while that may be true, it’s important to respect those that choose not to pursue a writing career!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! It’s so nice to find other people who have felt the same way about this topic! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

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