Reading a “high quality” book, perhaps one favorably reviewed by the New York Times, can make you feel challenged, confused, sad, not up to snuff. Maybe you will have to face the fact that you really don’t understand what the heck is going on. I say why spend money and time to feel inadequate? You can do all this by simply getting up in the morning, reading the paper, trying to raise children, going to work or just by being aware. Delving into a “high quality” book is entering into someone else’s difficult-to-comprehend reality. We all have difficult realities. Wouldn’t it be better to delve into your own difficult reality? If not your own, what about your husband’s or your child’s? I’m difficult and you don’t have to wait for me to come out in paperback.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to “high quality” books. My bookstore-owning-schoolboard-member sister calls those alternatives “junk books.” A better term could be “entertaining books,” or “fun books.” A fun book makes you feel better, not worse; stronger/not weaker; smarter, not dumber. They’re fun for pete’s sake. They might even have inappropriately used semicolons but who cares?
What are some examples of fun books? Just about any book with vampires or dragons. Yes, vampires and dragons make good characters for a fun book. Laurel K Hamilton wrote a series of vampire books where the hero is a vampire executioner named Anita Blake. She’s got a great attitude and when she doesn’t like something evil, she kills it, usually with great style. When there are complications, such as Anita’s torrid love affair with the city’s chief vampire, they are fun complications and do not mirror Laurel K Hamilton’s complex personal issues which I don’t care to know. The first book in this series is entitled, Guilty Pleasures.
Check it out. No… don’t check it out, buy it at your local independently owned bookstore.
If vampires don’t tickle your fancy, how about old wooden sailing ships that come alive and have distinct strong personalities emeshed in complex plots with hundreds of characters (including dragons)? I am of course referring to Robin Hobb’s three books, Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny.
My brother-in-law (husband and Karl Rove to my politician-sister), gave what I thought was a pretty pithy review of this thousands of pages series, “Oh my God!” I couldn’t agree with him more.
My other brother-in-law never reads any of the incredibly well-thought-out-loving gift books that I send to him. But he just loved this series… just kidding, he didn’t read these either. Once I sent him a “high quality” book on biblical archeology. He didn’t read that. Oh, and what about Consilience, the Unity of Knowledge by E.O. Wilson? Nope, not that one either. It’s my experience that you would be wasting your time ordering a book for a friend or family member from a megacorporate online bookseller named, for some reason, after a big river in South America. Instead, send your loved ones to your local independent bookstore where they can pick out their own books that will either confirm their inadequacies or give them a really good time.