I recently joined a new book club. The group had already been established by several of my co-workers and I managed to get invited. Which was no easy feat, let me tell you. Apparently there was serious discussion about whether or not I should be let in! How exclusive.
The reason I was asked to join the club is because the group had decided to have, what they called, a 'bodice ripper' month. Of course, when I think 'bodice ripper', I think Melissa Sarno, don't you? Considering that I've only read 2 romance novels in my entire life and I didn't read the first one until a few months ago when the lovely and talented Sarah MacLean became my friend...I find this ironic. But somehow, false word had gotten out that I read romance and, so, I was asked for my opinion about what the group should read, which led to an invitation to join.
So, I became a member and I was put in charge of selecting a juicy 'bodice ripper' to read. And of course, I suggested the lovely and talented Sarah MacLean's "Nine Rules To Break When Romancing a Rake" because, as I've said, it's one of the only romance novels I've ever read. Another girl suggested a novel by Christy Reece, which became the third romance novel I'd ever read and I enjoyed it very much.
We had our first meeting and we all had a grand old time discussing the romance genre and all the ways you can refer to the male member and the female 'sex' and very mature topics like that. :-P
In any case, after saying the word vajayjay far too many times, we artfully transitioned into other topics, such as chick lit. I was surprised to hear that so many people were ashamed to read chick lit. It also came out that they were embarrassed to read romance on the subway. It wasn't that they had a low opinion of these genres (in fact, just the opposite). It was just that they didn't consider it real 'literature'.
I felt pretty proud, because I'm not ashamed to read anything. I'll read Tolstoy one day and "The Devil Wears Prada" the next. I proudly display bodice rippers on the subway, opening up the jacket covers, on purpose, to reveal the long legs and wanton chests and see my fellow passengers reactions. By the way, I noticed the word 'wanton' is a widely used term in the 3 romances I read. I like it.
But this wasn't always the case. In fact, I thought pretty highly of myself back in high school and college. I could not be found reading Grisham or Patterson. No, no, no. Dostoevsky for me. James Joyce, pretty please. And, I certainly could not admit that I enjoyed "The DaVinci Code". What self respecting English academic type would? In fact, I'm a little embarrassed to admit it now.
Of course, I want to know, why? Why are people embarrassed to admit liking certain books that aren't considered great works of literature? Or, just the opposite, why are we ashamed to say that maybe Moby Dick didn't quite turn us on? Maybe our reading tastes reflect something about us we don't want to reveal. What does it say to the world when we crack open the latest Danielle Steele? What does it say when we sit on a park bench reading Hemmingway?
So, it's time to have a little fun and bare all (bodice rip, if you will).
I offer you the chance to get rid of the shame! Because, I believe there is no shame in reading a book, no matter what it is.
1. Name a book you are ashamed you like.
2. Name a book you are ashamed you don't like.
I'll go first.
1. The Da Vinci Code
2. Pride and Prejudice