As readers we all have them — those books that would never win a Pulitzer Prize, an Oprah Book Club selection, or any prestigious award, for that matter. Those books that we wouldn’t be caught dead with in public, or maybe we’re secure enough in ourselves to carry them with us no matter what. But regardless, those books don’t define our reading tastes. They’re the books we read when we don’t feel like taxing our brains with meatier fare: our guilty pleasures.
I’ll admit it. I have guilty pleasures just like anyone else. I even go to the library looking for them, and they’re easy to spot. Just scan any shelf and you’ll see the covers that are stock. They look pretty, but airbrushed. And they don’t have to be romance novels, either, although the one about the time traveling cowboy is interesting enough. They could be mysteries, fantasies, science fiction, or even non-fiction.
My biggest guilty pleasure is Jackie Collins. I found her when I was very young, and I probably shouldn’t have even been reading her books back then, but the covers intrigued me. They were almost always of a well-dressed woman (or women), some kind of large hat on her head, and either leaning on a fancy car, driving a fancy car, or with a fancy car in the background. I just knew those kinds of books wouldn’t take too much of my time and energy, so I checked every single one of them out over a period of a year.
I took her latest novel, The Power Trip, to work while I was reading it a couple of months back. The reactions were funny, but then again I knew they would be. People are always surprised — particularly other readers — that I would be caught reading such vapid material, but there was always something about Jackie Collins’ characters that I identified with. They were always large examples of stereotypes, they were always over-sexed, and they always had one-liners that made me smile. They still do. I read that latest book in three days, and it was refreshing.
Another recent guilty pleasure is Eric Jerome Dickey. He wrote a series of books about a contract killer who is being hunted by other contract killers, and while the writing didn’t set the world on fire, his plots move quickly, and they never require me to think, to figure out who did it, or who’s after the protagonist. That’s because it’s all so obvious, but it keeps my interest due to the pace. I’ve grown into a fan, but I would never pick up one of his books with the express purpose of learning something, or when I need something to tax my brainpower.
Other favorite guilty pleasures are Sophie Kinsella, Danielle Steel, Christopher Pike, and Jane Green. Any time they come out with a new book I put it in my queue because I know I will need a hiatus from those deep, intense books that I thrive on so much. Everyone needs a break sometime, and those authors and books are for those times. And oddly enough, I don’t feel all that guilty when I’m reading them.