“Dirty” books. “Trashy” novels. “Fluffy” ways to spend your time. The more I get into this crazy world of being an author (and an author with a loudly-announced love of classic books), the more book shame I see all around me.
There seems to be a barely-articulated expectation that as a published author I decry all books that can’t be classified as Serious Novels (notwithstanding the fact that lots of women’s fiction is not seen as “serious” in their eyes). Even worse, there seems to be an expectation from both genders that women should be ashamed of their reading. Add a drop of 50 Shades of Gray and a dose of secretive Kindle reading, and I think we’ve got an epidemic on our hands!
Lest you think I’m above knocking my own reading habits, consider this: The other day, I was looking for a piece of light reading while waiting for an appointment and decided on a popular, made-into-a-movie-perhaps-starring-Meryl-Streep-as-an-Anna-Wintour-esque-harpy-boss bestseller…and found myself shielding the Kindle from passers-by. What, I ask, is up with that?
I’m sure it would be best if we all spent all of our precious reading hours elevating ourselves with amazing prose and brilliant erudition, but sometimes a girl just wants to read…whatever she feels like reading. To me, the choice of a book is as personal as any other choice (and mine alone to make). When we decry our reading in front of others, we teach them to question their own impulses and choices and plant the seeds of shame in our daughters and friends.
I’m bringing this up because it’s coming up in various parts of my reading and writing life. I’m doing some work right now that reminds me how dramatic and incredible the opportunity to freely read truly is (how’s that for grammar?!). Women’s reading and writing were nothing short of revolutionary for a long time, given constraints on subjects considered appropriate for ladies. It makes me feel ornery and a bit mad at myself. And so I ask you to talk to me about shame and reading.
Are you ashamed of your reading habits? If so, why? Help me figure this out.