Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm Not Guilty About My Pleasures

The idea for this post started from a discussion I had with Christina, Meg, and Ellis. We were discussing a certain very popular series and whether or not I should read them. Christina said I should because she liked them even though she knows they are probably not what she would normally consider good.

This post isn't exactly about the concept of "guilty pleasures", which is a term I generally have a lot of issues with for reasons that boil down to: if you like it, you shouldn't feel guilty about it, because no form of entertainment is lesser than any other, but that's a post for a different day.

This post is mostly about books that we shouldn't like for personal, subjective reasons... but do for personal, subjective reasons. You know the feeling. You're reading something that, logically, you should hate, something that, by your own unique personal standards, should be considered genuinely terrible. And yet. You just kind of love it. It's like me and Slim Jims. I know that shit is nasty, but man, do I love them. These are pleasures your own brain will make you try to feel guilty about, but that you shouldn't. The outliers of your own personal taste, if you will. Books you love in spite of yourself.

Basically all of these books were books I read before I started blogging and I truly figured out what is was I liked and, more importantly, why. And also I grew up and Learned Things about the world, like sparkly blood-drinking stalkers or ragey wolf boys that frequently explode out of their clothes are probably not the ideal male specimens.
Now, this isn't meant as a "these are REALLY BAD BOOKS" post. Some of the books I say I should hate may be considered a wonderful book by someone else, and that's okay. As Meg says, "It's not that these are terrible, but that large portions of them trouble me, but I love them anyway." These "love them in spite of all reason" books are books that aren't terrible, but to that one individual, they SHOULD be... but aren't.

Sometimes you just really need a crack read.

Books I love or have loved even though I know I don't think they're good:

 The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

I'm not going to list all the numerous things wrong with Twilight. We know what we are, and we've read those posts before. Trust me; I know what they are, too. I could probably write a thesis paper on Twilight, but that's also sort of my point--I have read these books multiple times. I enjoy reading these books for reasons I can hardly articulate. Back before my readerly brain really developed, aka when I was sixteen and emotionally fetal, I read the first three Twilight books in four days and MY LIFE WAS CHANGED FOREVER. Before that, I read very little YA besides Meg Cabot and maybe one or two others.

Besides Harry Potter, to which no other series can ever be compared for me, I'd never experienced that kind of captial-O-Obsession before, and it was the beginning of my descent into fangirl madness. I didn't know there was such a think as fanfiction or the interwebs or even fandom at all, and while i was never part of the online Twilight fandom, it was the gateway "personal brand of heroin", if you will, to the big wide world of bookish passions and YA as a whole.

Plus, the summer I discovered Twilight, aka juuuust before it got SUPER mainstream (HIPSTER ALERT), I went on a community service program in India. I was scared I wouldn't make friends, and then I found out that two of the girls had also just read Twilight and didn't have anyone else to talk to them about. INSTANT FRIENDSHIPS BORN.

All of Eva Ibbotson's romance novels

 These books are my CRACK. I own every single one of her books, and while I genuinely enjoy her glorious children's novel and consider them excellent books, her romance novels? Love. And yet they're completely absurd, the writing is overly flowery and over-the-top, every whimsical heroine is exactly the same, every (slightly infantilizing) love interest is exactly the same,  but who cares I am enjoying myself so much. These books are guaranteed to cheer me up whenever I'm down, or whenever I want to turn off my inner book critic. They are romantic and oh so much fun.

Spanish Holiday by Kate Cann


THIS BOOK. I read it so often as a teen that the cover fell off.

The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold


 LMB is considered a giant in the world of genre fiction, and I know tons of people love these series (ME INCLUDED), but I shouldn't like this for a lot of personal-taste reasons. Like, I'm not sure I'd recommend these, but oh my God, do I have the fondest feelings for this high fantasy series. I read these books when I was seventeen, aka the greatest summer of reading of my life in which I read a book a day by the pool for two weeks straight. My glorious binge ended only when I got the worst sunburn of my life, but every time I see a book that I read during that period of reading nirvana, I smile at it knowingly, like I had a particularly torrid and passionate affair with it once upon a time.

Meg, Christina, and Ellis have some not-so-guilty-pleasures of their own, too!

Christina: My romance authors were Judith McNaught and Jude Deveraux. It really felt like eating all of your Halloween candy in one sitting. I was alllll about The A-List, Jodi Picoult, and Fearless.

Meg: Nora Roberts, the Fever series, Gossip Girl, LJ Smith

Ellis: The It Girl books, aka the Gossip Girl spinoff that was all about big-boobed Jenny.

So, what books do you like in spite of your own tastes and judgment, aka a book you should dislike but actually love? (Like me with 99% of the TV I watch. America's Next Top Model, I just can't quit you.)


  1. Love this post! I have a lot of the same feelings as you about this...and I try not to be embarrassed about my guilty pleasures, but sometimes it's hard. Twilight was my gateway series into YA as well, and I LOVED those books. I haven't re-read them since. I'm actually kind of intrigued to see if they'll still have the same hold over me as they did back then.

    I feel weird about the Vampire Academy series. On one hand, I absolutely LOVE those books and actually think that they're pretty well written...but on the other hand, it's hard to objectively justify to myself that I'm a serious fan of a YA vampire series. I'm trying to be okay with it, and usually I am when it's the blogosphere in question, but I would never just come out and say that to people in real life. I mean, I can barely even admit that I'm a mostly YA reader to people...ugh. I wish I wasn't so embarrassed about stuff like that, because it's so stupid.

  2. This post made me fist pump so hard. Also, I love the way you talk about these pleasures. Why should we feel guilty? So much to think about.

    In short, this post rules.

  3. You just helped me to feel not-so-guilty about my guilty pleasures! Great post!

  4. The Sookie Stackhouse series (much like the True Blood, that can be a whole lot of crazy) was addicting, and fun because there was some issues with continuity (like a character named changed without explanation from one book to the next) yet I enjoyed the heck out of them. So easy to get through in an evening. Like eating an entire bowl of popcorn.

  5. Hey gilian, can you ask Christina if she already read Judith MacNaught's Whitney, My Love? :D Please do read it too gilian :D


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