Hmm, I’ve just checked my 26-Week Book Challenge list and discovered that I have nearly as many interludes left as ‘proper’ posts, so I think I’ll alternate them for a few weeks. I’m now on week 24, so this week I will tell you why I will not be giving you a guilty pleasure or a book that I’m embarrassed about.
In today’s society with its masses of e-readers it’s become ridiculously easy to read a book that you wouldn’t normally be seen dead reading. Just stick it on your Kindle and no one will know whether you’re reading Great Expectations or Fifty Shades of Grey. Unless they’re reading over your shoulder, of course, but even then all they’ll see is the words, not the title of the book. No more hiding your trashy romance novel inside a copy of Time magazine just to show how high-brow you really are.
Not that that doesn’t happen anymore, of course. There was a tiny article in the Metro newspaper a few weeks ago on this very subject, and I tore it out because I knew I would be doing this post in the near future. The article’s title is Shelves of style over substance, and it reads as follows:
“We are a nation of literary frauds, it seems – more than half of the books we own will never be read. The average home contains 138 titles but 75 remain untouched, with one in four of us admitting we did not intend to read them in the first place. Instead, people bought them because they ‘looked nice on the shelf’ or so visitors would think they were intelligent, a survey by Shurgard found.”
Do I buy into that kind of shit? Hell no. I won’t say that I don’t have books on my shelves that I haven’t read, but I have every intention to remedy that at some point. Unless they’re my husband’s Xanth books, which I have never yet managed to muster interest for. Basically, I cannot think of a single book I’ve been embarrassed about reading. I may have regretted reading some (hello again, Fifty Shades), but no judgmental dickhead on the planet can ever make me embarrassed about what books I read.
(I was going to put in some pithy meme about how I read whatever I like, but apparently the internet hasn’t invented one yet. At least not one that I can find inside five minutes of searching, which is about all my lazy arse can cope with. So just imagine some really profound statement along those lines, probably as one of those sarcastic pseudo-e-cards.)
At work I have a reputation for being serious, reliable, knowledgeable, direct (it’s the Dutch thing), maybe a little inscrutable and often a lot sarcastic. When people see me reading a romance novel they often go ‘oh, I wouldn’t have pegged you as reading something like that’. I’ve never actually asked them why they think that (I assume it’s because of all the aforementioned qualities), but I also never come back with an embarrassed cough and a reply like ‘oh, this? It was the only thing I had lying around, my copy of War and Peace is in the wash!’
Instead I explain to them that romance novels are fantastic fun because you know they’ll have a happy ending, and sometimes that’s exactly what I need. In the same vein I love Fantasy and Science Fiction because it does stuff that you could never do in real life, and I love Erotica because I just like reading about sex. I could maybe see why people might be embarrassed about the latter, but it’s not something that bothers me. Men watch porn, which appears to be a fairly generally accepted fact, so why can’t I read porn directed at women?
As far as I’m concerned, people who disapprove of my preferred reading genres can keep their bigoted opinion to themselves. Just because I like romance doesn’t mean I’m stupid, and just because I read fantasy doesn’t mean that I’m out of touch with reality. Okay, if you read drivel like Twilight I might think you have really poor taste in reading (and if I know you well enough I’ll relentlessly take the piss out of you), but I’m the first to say that you cannot say a book is crap until you’ve tried to read it, and I have done exactly that with Twilight. For the results, see this post.
So to sum it all up: show off your reads with pride, and don’t be embarrassed about what other people might think of it. If they’re strangers, why the fuck would you care? If they’re friends, ask them what their reasons are. If they cannot give you a good one, and they continue to judge you for it, maybe they’re not very good friends after all. I do have a friend who has managed to make it through the entire Twilight series but one, but she has never pretended they’re any good. I keep asking her why she’s continued, and it appears to be some weird form of masochism.
Either that or she actually does like them, but is too embarrassed to admit that to me…
So, what do you think? Am I the only one who flaunts her erotica with pride? Do you have books on your shelves because they make you look high-brow? Let me know in the comments please!