DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
May 2 2012

Do you have a secret?

by Dea Anne M

Rebecca Joines Schinsky of  The Book Lady’s Blog recently featured an amusing post (found via Atlanta Book Lover’s Blog) in which she reveals some of her own “dirty little reading secrets,” and asks readers to share theirs. Schinsky’s revelations and request certainly generated a lot of lively comment and the responses are a lot of fun to read. Quite a few of the respondents admit to never having liked Jane Eyre or the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One of my favorite comments comes from someone who admits to often judging a book by its cover. As a former bookseller, I can certainly relate to that and I smile to remember a customer rejecting one of my suggestions with the words “I can’t let anyone see me reading that!” Her objection was either to the title or the cover and unfortunately I’ve forgotten the book altogether. Anyway, it was for me another great illustration that our choices in reading are often (maybe mostly) more emotional than rational. Here’s a short list of my own guilty reading secrets:

There was a period in college when I carried Finnegan’s Wake around with me at all times. I couldn’t make any sense of it but I sure wanted people to think of me as the sort of person who would choose to read (and understand!) such a work. “Oh no, it isn’t for a class. I just wanted to read it.” I’d rehearse saying… in answer to the question which never came.

I fell under the spell of J.D. Salinger for awhile (also in college) particularly his novel Franny and Zooey.  I find the title characters nearly unbearable now but at the time I thought their urbane and angst-ridden cleverness well worth imitating. I’m sure my circle of friends found my “witty”  posturing as baffling as it was irritating.

I read two pages of The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen then put it down never to pick it up again. Actually, I don’t really feel guilty about that…it just wasn’t a novel for me.

I really hated The Da Vinci Code. When I made the mistake of bringing up my thoughts at a party one night, I was roundly castigated as a “book snob” and schooled forthwith in all the ways my opinion was objectionable and wrong. I don’t care…I still hate that book.

A fun, related article is this one from The Awl in which writer Nadia Chaudhury asks various authors and publishing professionals about their embarrassing “first book crushes.” From Ayn Rand to Sweet Valley High, the usual suspects are here as well as some surprises. The work of Raymond Carver comes up for more than a few of the respondents and On the Road is a top choice for many of the men. My own cringe-inducing literary period would have to be that double-header year when I was obsessed not only with Robert Graves The White Goddess but also with the entire oeuvre of Anais Nin. Yikes!

What are your guilty little reading secrets? Do you have a first book crush that makes you cringe now?

P.S. Thanks to Robbin P. for steering me to this!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jimmy L May 2, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Great post! The first book (other than children’s books) that I had a crush on was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. It doesn’t make me cringe, but then again, I haven’t gone back to read it again since then.

Barbara K. May 2, 2012 at 10:43 AM

My first book crush was Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, which I read in high school. It was written in 1944, but one of my classmates had the book and it was passed around and we all sighed at the romance (doomed) between Amber and Bruce. I was so in love with that book, I bought a hardback copy, which I still have but can’t bring myself to read again.

Veronica W May 2, 2012 at 10:48 AM

What a wonderful post. I have so many reading secrets, I don’t know where to begin. Secret #1.When I was a teenager, I read every Taylor Caldwell novel I could get my hands on. I even wrote her a letter, thanking her for some enjoyable reading. I still own one or two of her books but now find her writing rather ponderous. Secret #2. I haven’t been interested in one book on Oprah’s list. Secret #3. I read – and thoroughly enjoy – many authors disdained by the self professed literary heavyweights. e.g. Georgetter Heyer, Elizabeth Chadwick, Jan Karon, M.C. Beaton, to name a few. Secret #4 – With a few exceptions, I don’t really enjoy biographies…I have enough drama in my life. Secret #5 I still think Shakespeare is wonderful!

Whew. That felt great. I may comment later with a few more. Thanks, Dea Anne. (smile)

Leigh P. May 2, 2012 at 3:38 PM

#1 – Embarrassingly, my first book crush was V.C. Andrews. I am blushing as I type this. I can’t believe I ever read her. I’m glad I broke up with her and we’ll never get back together.
#2 – I received an English degree and never once took a Shakespeare class. I maneuvered my way around the system until I could manage it because I simply don’t like his works.
#3 – I own all of the novels Jane Urquhart has ever written and have read all but one because I don’t ever want to think there’s never another one out there to read.
#4 – I own and use a Nook.

decaturmamaoftwo May 2, 2012 at 10:04 PM

Hah- I also liked “Forever Amber”. 😉 Secret #1: I gobble up thrillers (Ken Follett et al), Secret #2: On occasion I gobble up historical (romance) fiction (Diana Gabaldon, anyone?); Secret #3: I made it through college without a single English course (long story – I exempted the requirement…) – I now regret this! Secret #4: I have never read Moby Dick (gasp!). What a fun thread!

David May 4, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Here’s one of my reading secrets — I’m an English major who hated everything I ever tried to read by William Faulkner. I struggled through As I Lay Dying and thought it was one of the dullest things I’d ever read in my life.

Amanda L. May 5, 2012 at 12:51 PM

My first book crush.. or should I say the first book I remember reading and loving was Jim Forest and Ranger Don. It was what inspired me to begin my college career in forestry and my love for the outdoors.

Robbin P. May 12, 2012 at 4:01 PM

I never disclosed to anyone that I loved reading Sherlock Holmes & Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days during my high school years. I also read Taylor Caldwell my favorite was “Ceremony of the Innocent”. I intend to read Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead” one day (soon hopefully). Oh! I did read ” Sweet Savage Love” by Rosemary Rogers (anybody remember that little paperback? :-)) I read that one in high school also; we passed it around to all the girls in my homeroom class to read (of course our parents were unaware). My reading materials have gotten much better & more tasteful since then thankfully.

Tosh Norfair May 14, 2012 at 12:29 PM

There comes a point in your life when you can just read whatever you want to read without feeling bad. I realized this when I started imputing my list of books that I have read into GoodReads.com. I was sharing all of my dirty little reading habits to all of my friends. From Jennifer Crusie, to Toni Morrison all my deep secrets have been exposed.

I remember loving the works of Peter Lovesy, reading every book by Douglas Adams, and trying to read Chariots of the Gods. My early fascination with anything urban (Donald Goines, Iceberg Slim) to the Greek Gods. I still enjoy reading just for the pure fun off it I will worry about what everyone thinks about when I am dead (just make sure you bury me with copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Bible).

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