If you are not murdering baby seals by reading the book of your preference, then not.
With the increased popularity of Young Adult, celebrity biographies and erotica books, many readers have raised their fists in defiance arguing that people should not read the so-called ‘guilty pleasures’, but instead choose a more rewarding and refined classic masterpiece.
What bothers me is the fact that we call some of our pleasures guilty.
As if there was something reproachable about being entertained by entertaining books. Should you be ashamed that you have had a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird on your to-be-read shelf since two years ago, but are re-reading The Hunger Games? Not really. Both books can be equally enjoyable. And if you are reading for the sake of being distracted, I don’t see why any book should be better than other.
I know there’s a reason why classic books have reached their mighty status. They have prevailed for decades, maybe a hundred years, and can still be found in any bookstore. Most of them were best-sellers in their time, can enrich us with the ways and traditions from past generations, and are generally filled with the author’s opinions on society. Classic books can be fascinating and I thoroughly recommend the ones I’ve liked.
But I’ve also read some classics that I found to be extremely boring (-cough- Wuthering Heights), and that certainly didn’t make me any wiser. And you know what I gained from finishing books I did not enjoy? The great satisfaction of bragging about how well-read I am.
Just kidding- I gained nothing. I just got bored during my valuable leisure time.
If you feel like reading a certain classic, one you found on those lists of ‘Books Everyone Should Read Before They Die’, go for it. But don’t do it because you feel pressured to read something more intelligent. Do it because the plot calls you. Because you liked William Shakespeare in that one episode of Dr. Who. Because you want to learn more about the 18th century or you want to know Huxley’s opinions on democracy.
Just don’t let reading feel like a burden.
And if you want to read 50 Shades of Grey, go for it, too. There should be no shame in enjoying one’s favorite genre. Maybe someone likes fantasizing about dysfunctional relationships but wouldn’t like to be in one themselves, that’s why there are books in all genres. Maybe someone dreams about being the chosen heroine who will lead the country in a war against the dystopian government, that’s why there are books in all genres. Maybe someone wishes there would be robo-werewolf-vampires capable of falling in love, and I’m happy they could someday live their dreams through books.
Do not let anyone shame you about your reading habits. And do not shame yourself. You can read Divergent without making excuses because it doesn’t have the best writing, or the most sensible plot. Read Divergent and submerge yourself in the triteness of a YA dystopia. Who cares? (And if someone DO cares – be Dauntless!).
Reading to gain knowledge, reading to feel less alone, reading to have fun… they are all valid reasons to pick up a novel. Gone is the age when books were a privilege of sages and scholars.
Go have some fun!
Have you read something that you consider a guilty pleasure? Let’s take away the guilt! Tell me about that pleasure in the comments 🙂