In defense of guilty pleasure reading

11:09 AM


For the longest time I was against guilty pleasure reading. But it wasn't always like this. I used to be an avid detective novel reader. One day a guy asked me what I was reading and I answered “A detective novel”. He rolled his eyes and said: “No, seriously. That’s not reading.”

It’s sad to say but that was when I stopped reading detective novels. Then I got to college and my intolerance towards guilty pleasure books became worse. Books were supposed to be serious, challenging and well... difficult. No detective stories, no best sellers, no “but this is Madonna's favorite author right now!”.

I still think this “Literature major” way of thinking is ok, as long as you don’t substitute guilty pleasure reading for other, worse, cultural guilty pleasures.

And that’s exactly what I did. 

I was so scared while reading Macbeth I couldn’t read it at night. I also couldn’t read the other books on my list because  they are too demanding to be read half an hour before bed.

So, I watched Tv. But I realized a little guilty pleasure reading was better than hours of The Office.

Sure, I wouldn’t be learning as much from my detective stories as I would from Dostoyevsky or an Art history book but I’d definitely be learning more than from sitcoms.

Now, I’m not saying let’s all indulge in our guilty pleasures for life. There are some pretty bad books out there, books that are incredibly popular, mind you.

It’s all a matter of choosing the better of two evils. We need some entertainment and it’s better getting it from a good book than from Tv shows.

However, not every book we read must be entertaining. Even though pleasurable books are exciting and page turners, we must remember we’ll miss out on a lot if we stick only to books that are fun and easy to read.

I now read my Nero Wolfe novels before bed, but you can also alternate between one serious reading and a guilty pleasure one.

I’ve learned that even guilty pleasure books can help you increase your vocabulary and improve your grammar. Plus if you choose well they can also expand your horizons and stimulate your imagination. Why shouldn't books also serve as fun and intelligent entertainment?

What do you think of guilty pleasure reading? What are your favorite guilty pleasure books?

Image via FYReading

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14 comments

  1. My guilty pleasure book EVAH is The Count of Monte Cristo. Then there's Montalbano & Jessica Fletcher. Once I read something like this: One can read "The King Solomon's Mines" seriously, and then read "War & Peace" laughing out loud. One must be tunned on a wrong wave ... Yes, detective books are not great literature, but they are good companions. But I won't read James Patterson before sleep.

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    1. I loved what you said about detective books being good companions. I'm so quoting that from now on!

      And The Count of Monte Cristo is a pretty high brow guilty pleasure, good for you! xx

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    2. That's what I thought! Any time Count of Monte Cristo is guilty pleasure, you're doing well! ;)

      Love this post, Paula...I've been missing guilty reading as I've done none of it since starting college. I love (and miss) Agatha Christie's mysteries, the Shopaholic series (the main character made me laugh so much), Harry Potter/Chronicles of Narnia, and food blogs. Not quite books, but I love them so. :)xo

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    3. It's funny how serious (and busy) we become when we get to college! We have so many mandatory books to read that we neglect the ones we really like.

      I love Narnia but I didn't consider it such a guilty pleasure though! I finished all the stories this year and can't wait to re-read them.

      Glad to hear from you! xx

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    4. Persnackly...all this Plato and Confucius is making my head spin. Hence why I now consider Narnia one of my guilty pleasures!

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    5. You're studying philosophy? That's so exciting!

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  2. So many people don't read books these days that I don't consider any type of reading a guilty pleasure anymore. More like an escape from reality or a form of entertainment (which I agree is much better than TV!). You should never feel that reading is a guilty pleasure, you should read anything you want without fear of being judged : ) I'd say my 'guilty pleasure' reading list includes books about food where the descriptions are vivid, re-reading my fave classics from childhood, and Marian Keys. Serious Reading on my list: art history, psychology and historical biographies.

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    1. "So many people don't read books these days..." - you nailed it. With Tv and internet, reading is being left aside and maybe it's better reading a guilty pleasure book than no book at all.

      I also love re-reading books from my childhood and discovering new kids' books as well.

      (Welcome!)

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  3. yeah, i've notice just by reading your latest posts, that you were kinda of addicted on the office. There were too many inside jokes...
    Hope you drop the office and start to read some agatha christie books :D Those are the bomb! Go for Tommy and Tuppence, i'm enjoying them more them Poirot!

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    1. "Too many"? Two you mean, right? Well, maybe that is too much ;) I thought I would be safe once Steve Carell left the show, but then there are always the reruns...

      I used to read Agatha Christie a lot, but then I discovered Rex Stout and liked the characters more.

      Tommy and Tuppence? I'll look into that. xx

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  4. I love your site and am ecstatic to honor your hard work with the One Lovely Blog Award. My post with the details here: http://ajarndtbooks.blogspot.com/2012/10/winner-of-one-lovely-blog-award.html

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  5. Oh my, thank you so much! I really appreciate it :) xx

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  6. Hi Paula, I enjoyed this post. Although I like meaty books, I sometimes need a book that doesn't require too much brain power. That's when I turn to Elizabeth Goudge, Kathleen Norris and Gene Stratton Porter, all authors of light fiction from another era. It's funny that I don't like to read detective novels, but I enjoy listening to old-time radio shows based on them.

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    1. Hi! I don't know any detective radio shows but now that you mentioned I'll look them up, they seem interesting. My aunt gave me a Cd of books that were turned into radio shows and I loved it. xx

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