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Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Discussion: Guilty Pleasures

People are always asking me what my "guilty pleasure" reads are. I dislike the term "guilty pleasure," because it implies that some books are more worthy than others. See for yourself:
A guilty pleasure is something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. Often, the "guilt" involved is simply fear of others discovering one's lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes, rather than actual moral guilt. Fashion, music, and food (especially unhealthier foods high in sugar and/or fat) can be examples of guilty pleasures
A true Readers' Advisor must resist this notion of some books being "better" than others because our entire profession revolves around the fact that reading anything has intrinsic value. RAs are non-judgmental. We need to treat the reader who only wants James Patterson titles the same as the one who only reads Tolstoy. They are equal patrons simply because they want to read something that they will enjoy. Our goal is to match readers with THEIR next good read, not OUR next good read. I have an entire lecture prepared on just this topic, but I will stop here for now.

However, all this being said, even the most serious reader needs an escape. So how do WE define "guilty pleasure." They key here is that it is a completely subjective definition. What I find a guilty pleasure may be a regular read, or even work, for someone else. We need to understand this distinction before even beginning the "guilty pleasure" discussion.

For example, I read a lot of horror books, but I would not call them "guilty pleasures" because this is part of my work. I am paid to read and write about horror books. Although I enjoy them immensely, there is nothing "guilty" about my reading them-- it is my job. On the other hand, I watch True Blood, each and every week on HBO for the pure guilty pleasure of it. For me, the show is pure fun, no brain cells needed, and that has a lot to do with why I like it so much.

For books, I will read a funny, cozy mystery or a best-selling suspense title as my guilty pleasure. But sometimes, you get a surprise with these books. Last year I read the first two Stieg Larsson titles in his Millennium trilogy. I thought they would be a guilty pleasure, and they were, but they were also two of my favorite books I read last year.

In music, I just love Justin Timberlake as my guilty pleasure. Yes, my favorite bands are more complex (Wilco and Richard Thompson) but I will stop and listen to anything by Justin Timberlake and I am not ashamed to admit it.

NPR has authors own up to what they read as a guilty pleasure and why in this regular series.

Everyone, no matter how high brow they think they are, needs a guilty pleasure. We all need to escape the seriousness of real life once in awhile and let go. So, today's Monday Discussion question is: What are your guilty pleasures? You can give me books, movies, music, tv...anything.

Remember, you can follow past Monday Discussions with comments, here.


John BPL RA said...

Yeah sure, I'll embarrass myself publicly. Why not? Feel free to laugh.

In terms of books, I've always liked books about fashion. I think it is mainly the photography. The photos in fashion books are of a much higher quality and artistry than you normally see. I particularly like books about the history of fashion since they have lots of black and white shots. When I've exhausted the library's collection I admit that I will resort to reading fashion magazines. I cannot do so in front of my male friends lest I be made fun of. I also feel like a bit of a twit reading a book that is 95% pictures except for two paragraphs that go on about how great Coco Chanel was.

In terms of music I sometimes, on rare occasions, listen to really generic techno dance music from Europe. I listen to it because it reminds me of Europe and some of the nightclubs I went to when I was there. I pretty much only play it when I'm depressed and want to remember a good memory or two. I never listen to it if people are over. If I did I would be ridiculed mercilessly and my sanity would likely be questioned. The names of some of the artists and songs are enough to make you laugh. The lyrics in French and Spanish could be from a comedy skit. Late at night they play a show called "999 Dance Party" on 99.9 FM that has some of the european stuff and I stay up for it sometimes. In Europe they use 999 instead of 911 for dialing emergencies and I guess it's alluding to that. The DJs are rejects from B96 circa 1991. Enjoy

Kathy BPL RA said...

Sometimes I feel that my life is just one big guilty pleasure - hah! When it comes to books, I love funny essays - think David Sedaris. Michael Ian Black's book of essays was a perfect guilty pleasure. It was funny, nonsensical at times and included toilet humor. Just look at the title "My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays that Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face." That still makes me laugh. Come to think of it, potty humor pretty much covers it for me in both movies and books.
Music is a totally different story. My guilty pleasure is music that has an edge of cheese that I can sing along with - The Carpenters, Neil Diamond and the Bee Gees are probably my top three.
Finally, I need to mention that Jonathan Ames is my favorite guilty pleasure. His essays are hilarious, heartbreaking, sweet and perverted. What more could a girl ask for?
So there is my heart and mind exposed bare, and yes, they are in the gutter.

Madeline said...

I just found a new guilty pleasure this weekend. I was convinced to read Pretty Little Liars and I devoured it...just typing that causes me to not quite be able to make eye contact with my computer screen.

On the other hand, I will PROUDLY sing to Cher, Lionel Richie, and The Judds.

Take that!

Jackie, BPL Youth Services said...

Guilty Pleasures?! Ahhh...there are many. I've lived way too many years to be 'embarrassed' by them. And, as you say, Becky, no one should be embarrassed to read what they like! All librarians know this much is true.

But, if I had to pick a guilty pleasure, it would be anything with magic, dragons, witchcraft, or spells in it (I am a children's librarian after all!). So, my most favorite guilty pleasure is reading (and re-reading) Harry Potter. I LOVE Harry! All my co-workers know this and just shake their heads. I love revisiting these books again and again.

Music? My guilty pleasure is listening to anything classical. I love the soothing tones and don't mind admitting it. Classical music, books, a cup of tea, and an easy chair. A picture of guilt all wrapped up in happiness.

But, my most favorite guilty pleasure is browsing....browsing in the library stacks, browsing in Barnes and Noble/Border's Bookstore/Anderson's Bookshop or even browsing on my NOOK. I love getting acquainted with new offerings by favorite authors. I love discovering a new author who has taken the reading world by storm. I love, love, love finding a new kids' book that I can recommend to young people.

Yes! I agree with Kathy...my life, too, is one big guilty (reading) pleasure and I am not ashamed to admit it!