The Romance of Reading a New Genre


Let’s take the guilt out of guilty pleasures

I’ve recently been partaking in some guilty pleasures. Well, it’s not so much a guilty pleasure since I don’t actually feel guilty about it; more a fun surprise direction that my book reading has taken over the last year. These rom-com novels are like the book equivalent of eating ice cream and junk food to cheer myself up.

In the second half of last year and into this year I’ve been having fun bouts of insomnia so instead of dragging myself out of bed to watch mindless T.V. repeats at 2am I looked to my kindle to find something un-demanding that would distract me enough for my brain to switch off and let me sleep.

Enter the cheap and colourful romance books (they rarely cost more than £1.99) that I can devour in a day or less.

The characters are fun and silly but still engaging enough for me to follow and care about through the story. The story too is so often so detached from my real life that every book is the perfect level of escapism for a mind and body racked by exhaustion and insomnia.

Yes, I have on occasion cried while reading them because, well it’s me, and so would you really expect anything else? They are silly, fun, and maybe at times completely un-relatable for me but still satisfying to read.

Fun with Formulae

They are so often formulaic that within the first few pages, as the MCs are introduced I usually know what’s going to happen. But they are also completely unapologetic for this.

Filled with tropes but never problematic (at least the ones I’ve read) I can care about the characters from the first to last pages and I feel comfortable giving them 4 or 5 star ratings on goodreads. Would I compare them to some of my other 5 stars reviews? The books that have taken apart my heart and truly spoken to me? The books that have me sobbing weeks, if not months after I finish? Probably not. But I guess that’s the point in guilty pleasures, in holiday reads with splashy airport friendly covers. I don’t need them to be anything other than what they are.

I’m not looking for multiple levels, for hidden subtext and deeper meaning. If you look at my goodreads challenges you will see that I’ve started reading these ‘trashy’ romances and I enjoy it.

**On a side note, isn’t it cruel to call these books ‘trashy’ novels? Someone has sat and worked at the words in these pages; has crafted plots and characters that mean something to them. Maybe it’s not ultimately what they want to be writing, maybe it just pays their rent or some of their bills and maybe that should be enough. **

So let’s stop with the idea of a “guilty pleasure” and just honestly enjoy the things that bring us pleasure. Does this mean I’m going to stop reading all my YA favourites? Absolutely not. Does reading these books mean I’m going to give away all my favourite Science Fiction and Fantasy novels? Does this mean that China Mieville is no longer one of my favourite authors? I laugh in your general direction. It just means that for now, I am enjoying reading books that are not my usual choices at the same time as the ones that are.

Let’s just all learn to enjoy these things for what they are and what we can gain from them.

(Why do so many of my blog posts devolve into philosophical ramblings? Is that my brand now?)

Until next time,

See you in the future

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