Respect If Ye Would Be Respected

For the entirety of the 20th century, we pushed to enlarge the canon. To seek out hidden gems and add them to the ever-growing list of essential written works. This wasn’t a political project, but a creative one, encouraging people to read more widely and more deeply in search of treasure.

Yet some people now push to destroy the canon rather than to enlarge it. To pretend as if all books are equally interesting, illuminating, and enjoyable—and yet also that their books should be prioritized. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This idea is poison to ambitious authors, voracious readers, and our beloved, small-world industry.

Thankfully, there’s a way out. It’s easy. Just believe in quality. Believe in merit. Believe in hard work and self-improvement. Keep reading widely and deeply and voraciously. Never forget that there are true gems out there, and fools’ gold alike. Respect the great works that have come before you, and aspire to add one or two to the collection. Believe in your ability to master your trade—and master it, whoever you are!