I decided a couple of years back to stop referring to books I enjoy as guilty pleasures. I refuse to feel guilty about enjoying a book. No matter the genre. I’ve also noticed that this idea of feeling bad about a book that you’ve read seems mostly to refer to ‘chick-lit’ and ultimately romance. This actually really bothers me. First of all because I hate the term ‘chick-lit’ and secondly there is absolutely not one thing wrong with romance and I think that anyone who looks down their nose at it is a snob.
I’m not saying that people have to like romance or else they are a snob. There are hundreds of genres out there and not everyone is going to like everything. I totally get that. What I’m saying is that it’s possible to not like a genre and also be respectful about it. Contemporary romance is probably the type of romance I like the least (even though there are some I love) but I don’t look down my nose at people who only read contemporary romance. Instead I made a decision to not completely discount it and refer to people who love it when I’m in the mood to read one and want a recommendation.
Fiction is ultimately about escapism. That escapism comes in many forms. I love fantasy because I adore exploring whole new worlds, I love all manner of historical fiction because I get to step back into the past and I love romance because it makes me feel happy. Is that not the point of reading? To encourage us to experience new things but ultimately make us happy?
I think it is really unfortunate that there are books we enjoy, books that make us feel good, but when we talk about them we must add the caveat that we only read them when we feel like indulging in our guilty pleasure or offer up some other kind of justification to why we enjoy them. I have made a conscious effort to stop doing this and even I sometimes find myself almost apologising for loving a ‘certain kind of book’. It feels almost ingrained in my psyche somehow, but I am determined to stop thinking this way.
I will tell you what is a guilty pleasure though. Buying all the hardbacks with pretty covers. That’s something I certainly feel a lot of guilt about but the pleasure makes it worth it. That’s another blog post for another day though.