Over at Uneasy Rhetoric there’s a post about an NPR story “The Shelf of Constant Reproach” , and the author’s misgiving’s about the books on his shelf that sit mocking him…because he’s not read them.
I too have books that I’ve bought and just sit there waiting to be read. And there are books that, I’ll admit it, I keep because they make me look more intelligent than I really am (Bonjour Alexis De Tocqueville) Those don’t bother me. My secret is much darker and more twisted than that.
I have books I don’t put on my shelves because I’m embarrassed to own them.
Usually I’ll try to just get them from the library…that way I don’t have to worry about cost and storage. But lately, the really trashy novels I’ve been wanting to read have a wait-list a mile long (as in, 50 holds on 3 copies?), and damn it, I don’t want to wait that long. So I head to the Avid Reader or Borders and buy them. I’d buy them all at Avid Reader, but I’m too embarrassed even to special order the ones they don’t have. When I went to the Borders near where I work I silently prayed, “Please don’t come into my store and recognize me and say, ‘Hey, you’re the woman with the appalling taste in books!’”
Last year, about this time actually, on a week-long break from school, I picked up Twilight. I’d not read anything non-school related for a while. Library school had done that to me. Forest for the trees, or vice versa. I’d pretty much lost all enthusiasm for reading, because everytime I even looked at a book all I could see were the details of the book itself. But a friend at work, N, had read it and loved it, and I’d read a few librarian blogs that were talking about it, some hating it and some loving it, and I thought, what the heck, and jumped in. I loved it. As I was reading it I was realizing that it’s not terribly well written, but I DON’T CARE. The important thing is: I got completely wrapped up in the story, and managed, for a few hours, to forget everything else. And geez, that’s why I read. Quality, schmality.
I think there’s something to be said for trash literature. (And yes, the one’s man’s trash is another’s treasure could be inserted it, but that would be trite) Just because it’s not Shakespeare doesn’t mean it can’t take you someplace, or teach you something, or even, god forbid, afford you a moment of peace. I’m currently reading a series so impossibly trashy I hide the books from my husband so I don’t have to see him smirk, and because, well, I don’t want him to think less of me for liking this garbage. But “this garbage” has made me happy, and made me laugh, and in general made me all around more pleasant person to be around the past couple of weeks so it definitely has its uses.
I just won’t be putting it on the bookshelf.