Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Guilty pleasures...

This topic Molly raised made me think, especially because it was in the context of reading. (Now, if we were talking about food and guilty pleasures, or TV, I could blog for days...)

My reading tastes over the years have varied, wildly, but probably for the past 20 years, most of my pleasure reading has been literary fiction, and the biased world being what it is, those books generally aren't thought of as guilty pleasures, per se. Isn't it crazy that any reading should make us feel guilty? I know since I've been writing commercial fiction, I find myself defending the choice--to write books I hope lots of people will read--all the time. Crazy. Great stories simply told with a wide appeal. What could possibly be wrong with that?

I've been thinking back to when I was reading a lot of mainstream fiction, and it was during high school and university. Then, I had lots of school reading to do and therefore really wanted my pleasure reading to be a serious break. I also hadn't discovered movies in a big way yet then, or more accurately didn't have access to them like I do now both because of the cost and the ability to get to them. (Lived in a small town during high school.)

So, books were my main source of entertainment. It's possible that if I were a decade younger, I would have been a voracious romance reader (like Molly and Sinead) but from what I understand, romance publishing didn't take off in a huge way until the 1980's and while I was in University in the 80's... I was in high school in the late 70's and feel like I missed that wave. So, what did I read? Sidney Sheldon, Judith Krantz, Andrew Greely... and countless other authors whose names I've forgotten. Basically, anything that read quickly and had some good sex scenes... Given those reading preferences, why didn't I discover romance? Don't know. I expect the covers would have turned me off... but I don't remember making that judgement. I also think some of the heroines in those 1980's romances would have turned me off. But I realize it's not fair to say that, having read none of them. (Actually, I recently read an old Janet Daly I found via a bookcrossings drop and HATED the heroine...)

After I graduated University, I started reading mostly literary fiction and was reading that (with a few exceptions like John Grisham and Anne Rice and a lot of "cross-over" authors like John Irving and Ann Tyler) pretty exclusively until I started writing. Now that I've discovered the romance genre and rediscovered mainstream fiction... I feel like I read mostly for "work" and the books that sweep me up and become "pleasure" instead of work... Well, I don't feel any guilt about those. Recent mainstream authors who've done that for me include Emily Giffen, Sophie Kinsella, Robyn Harding, Gemma Halliday, Diana Peterfreund and of course Molly O'Keefe.

I think what it boils down to, is that for me, reading is not a guilty pleasure at all.

7 comments:

Sinead M said...

Loved Sydney Sheldon back in the day.. If tomorrow comes is a classic.

And we all know how Maureen and I feel about Emily Giffin, who's too good to be a guilty pleasure.

so much reading to do over the holidays.. and movies to see and the second season of Battlestar Galactica to watch..

Amy Ruttan said...

1980 heroines were wishy washy pushovers. 'Oh I love him, but I hate him', I think the term used then was corset rippers. Innocent virgins and men taking what they want ... and then realizing they love the heroine. I only started reading romance in the mid nineties. By then I think the bodice ripping was over. So came the age of the strong feminine.

I too have much Battlestar Galactica to watch ... I haven't seen a season yet. EEP!

Anonymous said...

My first 'grown-up book' was a Sydney Sheldon(I was about 13). Rage of Angels, I believe. It was true love after that. Read every one he wrote for the next 5 years and after that, he seemed to contrived, to hurried. Lots of plot holes, etc. Or maybe my taste matured?!

And btw, you DRUNK WRITERS you.... I have stayed up past midnight for the past three nights watching DEXTER. Just finished episode 8 and I'm blaming you all for the bags under my eyes, but giving you full credit for turning me on to a brilliant show. Man, it's just not right that I should be so completely captivated by a freaking serial killer!! Just watched the ep when he confesses to his therapist right before he offs him. HILARIOUS!

~ Paula

Anonymous said...

I obviously don't have my 'to's' and 'too's' down yet. Please ignore my grammatical oopsies...

But it is 1:00am and I've usually been asleep for at least 1 1/2 hours, but I've been watching DEXTER!!!

Maureen McGowan said...

Wylie!!! Glad to have another convert. Welcome to baggy eye world.

Sinead M said...

Excellent!!! another convert to an amazing show. Michael C. Hall is brilliant, my new favourite actor.

Amy, hope you love Battlestar Galactica. I think I'm going to blog about it next week. I'm seriously addicted to that show.

Wylie, I agree, loved, loved, loved Sydney, and this his books took a serious downturn. Really terribly plotted and written.

Too bad. He was such a great guilty pleasure in his heydey.

Anonymous said...

*eyelids drooping*
Just watched final 3 episodes of Dexter... that's 11 eps in 3 nights...
3 very late nights not getting to bed til past one am... 3 days of baggy eyes... finale was brilliant but glad it's ov.... zzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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