You know the days of endlessly re-reading Jacqueline Wilson novels and Twilight, gushing about the things you loved to your BFF’s and writing ‘I heart Cedric Diggory’ on your pencil case/maths book/arms? Those days are so over.
Books have gone from an effortless pastime to an intellectual, status seeking bore; reading now seems more like a job than a pleasure.
I have read a lot of popular fiction. From The Hunger Games to Fifty Shades of Grey to A Game of Thrones, I churn through beautiful pages, clichéd sentences, and incredibly idealistic sex scenes.
And I loved them all. I loved The Hunger Games for it’s thrilling plot, interesting characters and thoughtful, unique dystopia. I found A Game of Thrones so historically fascinating, and the Fifty Shades series, well, fun. And, they all have the remarkable ability to make you forget that you have spent the last 8 hours on a train or that you haven’t showered in 3 days.
But, at times, I felt as though I needed to hide the covers, to read them on my iPad, to conceal the fact that I wasn’t reading Dostoyevsky or Jorge freakin’ Borges. I felt as though people were judging me for enjoying piece of shit literature, that I was suddenly less of a person.
Don’t get me wrong, I love classics. I love Margaret Atwood and F. Scott Fitzgerald and I adore Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Grey is up there with my favorite books of all time.
But I also like reading books that are fun. Chick-lit. Vampire novels. They are easy, light and entertaining, a guilty pleasure.
But why do classify it guilty?
Yes, Lolita is a fabulous book. Vladimir Nabokov is a genius. It’s stimulating, provocative, and stunningly put together. But reading it is a hard slog. You have to focus on every word, deconstruct every intricate metaphor. It’s the kind of book you find yourself reading a chapter and then realizing that you don’t have a clue what happened.
Yes, when you finally finish it you feel this sense of intellectual gratification, like you are a literary genius. But you didn’t enjoy it. Well, maybe you did. But I didn’t. THAT’s what I find guilty…
Yes, Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey are so badly written you can barely call them novels.
But who cares? They are entertaining and fun. They take you out of this world, transporting you to a place where the super sexy, rich, perfect gentleman is just around the corner, waiting to tie you up and give you earth shattering orgasms.
So to the people who don’t want to plough through Catch-22 and 1984 (you should, by the way), I say that’s fine. Read crap books. Enjoy them.
Just make sure you see them for what they really are; light, fun, badly written, unrealistic pleasure.