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30 Day Book Challenge–Day 4 | A Guilty Pleasure Read

To answer this question, I’m reposting a post I’d made on one of my old blogs. (It can never be just a simple answer with you, can it, Sindhu? Nope. It can’t. :P)

It’s titled The Absurdity of Having Guilty Pleasures.

“I recently became active on Goodreads. Those of you who don’t know what it is, check it out. It’s addictive. Just remember that I warned you.

I used the Barcode Scan option in the Goodreads app on my smartphone like a baws (I LOVE that little beep it makes! Do you love the beep? And I get excited every time it finds the correct book. It’s…it’s like magic!) and scanned one of my favourite books and gave it four stars even if it is –shudder- “chick-lit”. I then stared at my phone for a few minutes and added in the comments box: “A guilty pleasure.  :)”

I’m not very sure why I felt the need to clarify this to the world. Why did I feel the need to be guilty about enjoying this book?Yes, it’s extremely girly. Yes, it has a corny, happy ending of the kind that “serious” readers abhor. It’s just comforting, entertaining and enjoyable.

It’s true that I generally don’t enjoy this “chick-lit” genre of books, also known as popcorn fiction or beach-reads. I find the very name  derogatory to the “chicks” who may enjoy them, and I find that the stories themselves are  stereotypical and I think they degrade women despite the fact that their target audience is women. I also agree that they give people unrealistic expectations about romantic love. (Trust me ladies, being with a man who gives you butterflies in your stomach each time he looks at you will be very disconcerting and uncomfortable in the long run!)

The thing about me is, I’m constantly on the lookout with books with female protagonists who live normal, relatable lives, to read when I’m down or when I am not in the mood to read something new. Needless to say, this is an uphill task because most female characters in adult fiction are side-lined or entirely generic. And the ones in girly books are, well, way too girly. Or way too helpless. Or worse, way too focused on finding her “soul-mate”. I understand that finding romantic love has never been more important that now, with familial bonds weakening and friends being entirely too absorbed in their own careers, and I am in fact, a believer in romantic love. But what about your life? The one outside of your significant other? It infuriates me, especially when women themselves are the ones producing such tripe.

This task was a lot easier when I was a teenager, it seems, and I could comfortably read and reread Jacqueline Wilson books till the books got tattered and the covers came off. I still give them a go sometimes when I’m down, though of course, the age difference is too great for the characters to be relatable now. It’s sad but I now find it easier to relate to a thirty-something protagonist than a teenage protagonist, despite only being in my early twenties. (Except Katniss Everdeen. She’s awesome.)

I must stop digressing.

After looking long and hard, I feel like people imagine that clever, unique teenagers will evolve into dull-man-obsessed young adults and therefore won’t enjoy books about clever, unique girls their age anymore.

Anyway, this book is an exception of sorts. The book was more sensibly written than most chick-lit and I’ve read it more times than I can count. And it’s made me feel fuzzy and happy each time. And this yet again begs the question: Why am I guilty about owning it and reading it and enjoying it? Does it make me less of a feminist to read a book that targets women exclusively? Does it reduce my intelligence in any way to have a comforting book that doesn’t hodge-podge-jelly-brainify me, when I’m having a bad day?  Does it make me a fraud of some sort if I own a book that doesn’t make me think or add value to my life in some way, except to make me happy? I think about all these questions and the answer to all of them seems to be no. Doesn’t it?

Yet, this book will only ever be a guilty pleasure in my bookshelves, the one I won’t list as a favourite, even though it probably is. I feel like this makes me a fraud more than anything else. I’m afraid of being judged, as someone shallow, as someone silly, just like I judge people who read “chick-lit”, despite knowing a number of exceptions. I just start off by having this assumption and this makes me kind of snobbish and shallow.

Is there something wrong with reading “chick-lit” books or is there something wrong with the classification itself? Why aren’t there any dude-lit books?  Or is any book that isn’t chick-lit automatically dude-lit? (Excepting feminist literature, I mean) All of these questions confuse me greatly. I feel sad that some sort of patriarchy seems to have seeped into one’s choice of literature as well. When did I become so judgmental? I miss being a child where I devoured every book, including wildly age-inappropriate books without any thought as to whom it may be targeted at.

What is your opinion on so-called Chick-lit and the way people perceive it?

Why do people have guilty pleasure books, movies and shows?  It’s not like crisps, or nutella or alcohol, or something remotely addictive or unhealthy for one to feel guilty about it!

Do you judge people based on their choices in literature, movies or music? Do you subscribe to the theory, “It’s not what you’re like; it’s what you like”? (High Fidelity reference. Read it.)

Do you have any recommendations of books with strong female protagonists?

Do you know of any good books with bookworm protagonists? I miss those.

Tell me in the comments.

Note: the author enjoys nothing more than a good, well-reasoned debate.


Oh, if anyone is wondering, the book I’m speaking of is Bad Behaviour by Sheila O’ Flannagan. I’m cringing as I write this title. I need to do some more thinking about what can only be described as this bad attitude, of mine…”

I hope you liked this little rant of mine from last year. 🙂



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Bye Reading Slump aka Lessons from Romance? -cringes-

Well, there went my reading slump! I finished the book in two hours even though I washed my hair and talked on the phone in between. I…feel like I’ve gobbled it whole. It was a very cute book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And since I have it on my Kindle (Instant gratification ftw), I predict many many rereads.

The book in question is Isla and the Happily Ever After. I admit it, I’m a bit prejudiced against romance novels and young adult ones, especially (I apologise to the people who enjoy this genre, but I do admit it’s a prejudice, and I’m sure it’s an unfair one at least some of the time.)

I just don’t like the idea that some of the books in this genre project; that a person’s life can be based entirely around someone else and their interactions with that someone else. It just seems like a gross oversimplification, especially in this age where women are ambitious and passionate and independent. I want to read books about women like that, about women who value themselves, or who try to learn to value themselves, and who love somebody not out of necessity but entirely because they want to. I want to read about women who know what they’re getting into when they say they love someone. I understand that we’re all looking for someone to love us, whether platonically or romantically, but our lives aren’t just about that. And I want to read books that acknowledge that.

Also, reading a romance novel never leaves me dumbstruck or mindfucked. They aren’t usually thought-provoking, so I always felt like I could be reading something else when I was reading them. But I’ve now realised that not every book I read has to be mind-boggling. It can just be that it makes me happy because it was well-written and charming and insightful. After all, romance and love are important to a lot of people. romance novels just choose to deal with that theme, that aspect of our lives. I will never be a person who reads romance novels exclusively, or even all that often, but sometimes, after a bad couple of weeks, and annoying readers’ block, a romance novel is good for you.

Sometimes you read a book only for the story. Sometimes, you don’t read ‘literature’, and you acknowledge that you still enjoyed it. Sometimes, instead of laying up all night thinking about the messages and ideas in a book, you curl up in a blanket and dream nice dreams thanks to the fuzzy aftermath of reading.  Sometimes. And that’s okay. Books exist to teach and challenge, but they exist to comfort too. 🙂

Remember that the next time you feel embarrassed about reading a romance novel. Or judge someone for reading one. 😛

Also, read Stephanie Perkins. She’s good.

I’m happy now.^_^