I’ve never seen that book before in my life, honest! The guilty secrets of a bookaholic.

We shouldn’t care about what other people think of what we read but in the past I’ll admit that I would feel embarrassed going into a bookshop and buying a young adult book.Or feel judged if I admitted to reading a chick-lit story. But then I read The Happiness Project  by Gretchen Rubin who spent a year trying out different resolutions which would help her, as the name suggests, to be happier and to better appreciate the things that made her happy. The beauty of it was that the things she did weren’t epic tasks that required packing up her things and travelling the world to parts unknown but were simple, everyday things that any of us could do. Things like being honest about what you enjoy reading – for her this was admitting that she was a huge Harry Potter fan and not worrying about more highbrow friends judging her for it.

After reading that I really thought ‘F*** it! I’m going to read these books and I don’t care what anyone thinks!’ I like to think I grew as a person and as a reader as a result. I was able to buy young adult books without blinking and when reading chick-lit on the train to work I no longer felt the need to loudly point out to the people around me that I had a complete Shakespeare collection at home, or had just finished the latest Man Booker Prizewinner.

And yet despite all that, yesterday I found myself at the self-scanner checkouts in the supermarket furtively shoving a Christmas chick-lit book so saccharine it made my teeth hurt to even look at the cover, into my bag while casting glances all around me in case someone I knew happened to be there and saw me buying it. I drove home with it completely hidden under a pile of groceries and me buried under a cloud of shame, and for the rest of the day it lay on my coffee table judging me for buying it. Why? Why do I apparently care so much about what other people would think if they saw me reading it because let’s face it, a lot of the people we’ve seen reading in public this year have been reading the likes of 50 Shades of Grey so they’re hardly in a position to judge! The answer is, I don’t have the faintest idea why.

I have absolutely no qualms, for example, saying that I read books like The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan or The Time of My Life by Cecilia Ahern and both of those would unquestionably fall into the cheesy chick-lit category. I will also freely admit to the fact that whenever the predictable dark, mysterious and brooding hero appears in a story, whether he’s of the paranormal variety or dystopian, it makes me very happy. I would have no problem at all reading any of these books in public and wouldn’t care in the slightest what people thought of them. There does however appear to be a line, a very arbitrary and fine line, that I’m not willing to cross. At least in public. There may be a secret stash of books hidden somewhere that I will only read in the privacy of my own home with the blinds closed and will deny to my dying breath that I’ve ever even heard of them.

Those are the sort of books which are perhaps a bit too close to the Mills and Boon type genre than a more general romantic comedy or they may feature half-naked werewolf/vampire/angel types smoldering out from the front cover in their very best Fabio impersonation with scantily clad women hanging off them. They may even feature lines so unbelievably cheesy that I couldn’t reproduce them here or I would never be able hold my head up in the blogging world again. Although I may have already confessed too much to be able to do that!

Doesn’t matter how much time passes or how old I get, I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I wouldn’t care if people saw me reading one of those. Even now, I’m having to try and resist pointing out to you all that I very, very, very rarely read these types of books, that I only bought this latest one after an extremely  bad week when I was in a lot of pain and was drugged up to the eyeballs on painkillers, and that I am now about to start re-reading the magical and beautifully written Night Circus before moving on to A Christmas Carol.

What about you? Do you have any embarrassing reading secrets or is it just me and you all now think I’m incredibly sad?

Do you care what people think of your reading tastes?

Any guilty pleasures?

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36 thoughts on “I’ve never seen that book before in my life, honest! The guilty secrets of a bookaholic.

  1. I love this post! I used to read a LOT of Nora Roberts and while I wasn’t quite ashamed of it at the time, looking back I cringe a little at how many I read. Same goes for the few Jackie Collins books I’ve read. The great thing about embarrassing books now is that I can just buy them online and no one has to know 🙂

    • It’s definitely the ones with the trashy covers that are most embarassing and if your experience is anything like mine no one ever asks what you’re reading when it’s something good, only something trashy! 😦

  2. This is a great post! I don’t think anyone should ever be embarrassed about what they read, be it kid lit or erotica, but sometimes it is easier said than done. I’m comfortable with admitting things online, to other bloggers etc., but it’s often a different story in reality. I do think humiliating covers play a large part in it. As much as I might love the story, there’s no way I’ll take a book with half-naked models on the front onto the morning bus. I’m far too paranoid and would be convinced that everyone was looking at me and judging, even though I know that’s ridiculous. I guess that’s part of the reason why I love reading at home alone. 🙂

    • Thanks, glad you liked it! 🙂 Yes, I’m the same and don’t mind admitting (for the most part!) what I’m reading to other bloggers but if the cover is embarassing I’ll either not read it outside the house or will try to obscure it with a bookmark or something in public! I’m sure no one is caring what I read but you never know…lol

  3. I’ve never enjoyed chicklit fantasy. You know I really don’t think I have a deep dark reading secret that I’m ashamed of. For a time I went through a cowboy romance splurge but that only lasted a few months and I’ve never felt compelled to pick up another. I’d have to say that YA is probably what I’m judged on because I read and review a lot of books in the speculative and SFF fantasy genres and go to those conventions. There is a big stigma in that genre and publishing/author communities about reading and writing YA SFF. For some reason its just looked down upon. So in a way I think I’m taken a little less seriously because half of what I read and review is YA. But quite frankly I’ve learned it doesn’t matter – I read what I want to read and what makes me happy. After reading a heavy SF or Fantasy book I NEED a YA book to scrub my brain clean because its so much lighter and easier to read usually. It helps refresh me.

    I’ve actually noticed that I’ve still kept my adult SFF bloggy friends and luckily I don’t think I’ve lost their respect but made them wonder just a tiny bit perhaps, that maybe it’s not so bad. If they think about it those YA books are what help get the YA readers into reading and set them up for their lifelong love of reading and a step into adult SFF.

    • It’s interesting that there’s this stigma towards YA books in the SFF genre. I didn’t know about that. I’m a huge fan of YA as well and I used to get judged for it but then more and more of my friends (and my mum!) started reading them as well so it’s not so much of an issue now. I’d definitely agree that after something heavy – like when I read the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones – you definitely need something light like a YA book. Plus the writing in the YA genre can be really good as well with some cracking characters. And you’re right they can help encourage a love of reading in younger readers which can only be a good thing!

  4. I admit to being embarrassed sometimes too. My blog and goodreads updates post to Facebook and I sometimes hesitate to add certain books or make all the comments I want to make because I’m a little afraid of being judged. Many of my friends and family are fairly religious and I guess I’m the black sheep. I’m not sure they understand what I enjoy reading and why. It should get very interesting early next year when I read and review The Original Sinners books by Tiffany Reisz.

    It annoys me when someone feels that reading YA or sci-fi makes me less of a reader than them. I think the phrase ‘literary fiction’ has become condescending in many ways. We should support reading in all forms as it makes us better as a people. Just my opinion.

    • I agree that reading, whatever form it takes, is a good thing and if it makes someone happy then what does it matter whether its YA, cheesy trash or whatever. Those people are just literary snobs.

  5. Sometimes… I get a little embarrassed too. I read a lot of YA and so many people stick their nose up to it. I have also had people though get all put off because I read Stephen King “I don’t like him” they said. Umm… have you actually ever read him? Or do you judge him by the movies and those saying his books are horror. I didn’t even try to explain myself to that person. I knew it was useless. Sigh… well I’ll be fine reading what I am reading… and try to not hide it from other people.

    • There does seem to be this thing about YA books sometimes and I don’t know why. Some of them are even better than adult books! I’ve never read any Stephen King but I know a lot of people who do and who love his books. I would never judge an author or those who read them without having read the books so I don’t see why others feel the need to. Have you read his latest yet?

  6. LOL- this is part of the reason I love my kindle. Nobody knows if I’m reading a bodice-ripper! I feel the same way when reading romance and YA, but I’m working toward being louder and prouder of it!

    • Yes, definitely have to give it to the kindle for that! I am getting better reading certain books in public and not caring but I do wish occasionally that people would ask me what I’m reading when it’s a classic and not something like Friday Night Bites! lol

  7. You are definitely not alone in this! When I finished my English degree, the first book I read was ‘Game of Thrones’, which isn’t necessarily down there with Mills & Boon, but it’s not exactly Virginia Woolf! I was just so sick of having read high-brow stuff that I had to analyse and dissect, I just wanted a really good read and I loved it!! xx

    • Nice to know I’m not the only one! After a lot of high-brow reading you definitely need something a bit lighter where you can just relax and enjoy, rather than having to analyse everything! And Game of Thrones is a great one to escape with! 🙂

  8. Great post! When I was a teenager, I read the “Sweet Valley High” series… and I recently found out there is a sequel with the two main characters as adults.It’s clearly chicklit but I’m so tempted… 🙂

  9. I definitely know where you are coming from.I typically determine whether or not I need to hide a book depending on the cover. If it’s even slightly embarrassing, I am discrete. I wish I didn’t care though. I shouldn’t care. Anyone who would judge me for my reading habits is not someone whose opinion I want anyway. But sadly, I still find myself hiding it.

    Great post!
    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

    • Thanks! Yes, the cover is usually what swings it for me too! Most of the people who’d see me reading aren’t people I’d ever see again but I still seem to care. Maybe someday we’ll read what we want, when we want and not give a damn!

  10. I remember very distinctly being on a public bus in Honolulu, headed out to visit the Pearl Harbor memorial, when I sheepishly pulled out the first Harry Potter novel and positioned the book so no one would see what I was reading. I was probably 30 at the time. A couple minutes later, a young boy saw what I was engrossed in and proudly announced to me that he had already that not only that one, plus the next two! He told me I would definitely enjoy reading them. I was schooled by a kid a third of my age! From that point on, I thought no one’s gonna make me hide my books. Plus you never know when someone might see something you’ve read and start up a convo.

    • That’s a great story and definitely sounds like something that could happen to me! lol Very true – books can start up a conversation when people see what you’re reading and vice versa. And it is great that Harry Potter appeals to everyone! 🙂

  11. I totally get what you mean! I’m just 17 but already feel a bit embarrassed going to the YA section of a small bookstore, especially if there are younger kids looking at the same books. But usually if it’s a larger bookstore I don’t care since no one else around pays attention. I haven’t bought any ‘guilty pleasure’ books from a bookstore, instead I do that online to avoid embarrassing moments 😛

    • Larger bookshops are definitely best for that! If it’s a smaller one I usually just pretend I’m shopping for my ‘little sister’ or something! 😉 Online shopping can be great for that reason!

  12. I haven’t read Night Circus, but I tried it on audiobook and gave up. I think I should have tried the print version. Glad it cheered you up — I have books like that — ones that I read when I’m in a bad mood and need a lift.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

  13. I can almost guarantee you are judging yourself more harshly than anyone else is. There are certain kinds of books I don’t care for, but if I see someone else buying or reading one? I’m just happy they are reading, period. Especially with all the technology and gadgets and TV and movies, I’m glad people are still making time to read at all. Are there book snobs out there? Sure there are, but that’s their problem, not mine. Life is too short to not read whatever I darn well feel like — sometimes that means a literary classic or adult fiction, other times that means a light and fluffy book I don’t have to think too hard about, and yet other times that means YA/MG/kids books. I read Harry Potter on the plane and then on the beach on my honeymoon. I’ve also read HP in the lunchroom at my previous job. I say read whatever you want and don’t waste a second of your time or energy feeling guilty or ashamed about it!

  14. Haha. Yesterday I was cleaning my little library and I came across my old Nicholas Sparks collection and I was like: “If someone asks me about these books, I’m just going to say that I used to have feelings back when I was an innocent kid”. The truth is there are other books that I bought that are more embarassing, but let’s just stay with Nicholas Sparks.

    However, it is more depressing when you’re ashamed of a read that is actually cool. For example, this year I got Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan and I had to remove the cover because I was afraid people would look at me funny (like I do when I see an old woman reading Fifty Shades).

    • Yes, there are definitely some books that are too embarrassing to admit to in public! 😉 It’s a shame when the covers can make us cringe but the story is actually great. The publishers don’t make it easy for us at times! I really enjoy The Chicagoland Vampire series but ugh, are those covers embarrassing!

  15. I can be very short about this. I DON’T CARE 😀 I buy and read whatever I want. People will always judge you and there are always snobs out there. Well, I don’t give a shit what they think 🙂 Reading makes me happy and if people will look down on those books, they are the ones who are missing out.

    • Book snobs definitely are the ones missing out! I am getting better at not caring what others think but with some of the really cheesy chick lit books with the dodgy covers, I’m still working on that! 🙂

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