We’ve all done it – I know I have. Someone asks us what we like to read, and even if we’re honest, we might mention certain genres sheepishly or with the caveat, “Yeah, that’s one of my guilty pleasures.” Why do we sometimes feel guilt or shame for reading what we want to read? There are lots of reasons, but I’m going make the case that we should let all that negative baggage go.
Sometimes we don’t want to admit that we enjoy reading something because it might be considered less serious or adult. Many adults today like to read YA (“young adult” or teen), and sometimes even adults without children read children’s books. Some people enjoy genres like romance or science fiction, novels whose plot or characters border on the absurd. Some people read “nerdy” formats like comics or graphic novels that used to be considered for young people. There is depth and quality in all of these books, but sometimes we judge them before we give them a chance.
Personally, I’ve always tried to avoid books labeled “chick lit” out of a sense of embarrassment, not wanting to be seen as a shallow reader. But recently I started reading some “chick lit” books, and even though they did strike me as mostly escapism and fluff, I enjoyed them, and what’s really wrong with that? Readers absolutely use books to unwind, fantasize, and imagine, and that’s wonderful. Also, while “chick lit” gets a bad rap, masculine-coded escapism like westerns and spy novels rarely get equally criticized. Really, no one should feel ashamed for reading what they like!
I challenge you to go out a read something just for fun, something that you might have been avoiding out of embarrassment. Don’t let anyone shame you for it, and interrogate your own guilty feelings. What’s wrong with finding some harmless enjoyment in life?