(Completed): A Series of Posts in One

I’ve had a fairly good reading year to date. I haven’t quite managed to get everything read I wanted (especially in anticipated time frames), but I’ve read books I hadn’t planned on as well as some I really wanted to get through. Unfortunately, my blogging activity: not so great. That leaves me with books I don’t remember well enough to write full posts on. (Well, to be fair, I may not have had enough to say on one or two of these in the first place. After all, I’ve managed a full post on Quiet, and I read that one in May.) And a few weeks back (when I actually started writing this) I reached a point when I felt I couldn’t read any more until  So I decided to just clear the deck and write up some brief thoughts here, for my own records if nothing else.  Presented in order of completion:

The Memoirs of Sherlock HolmesThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
1894, Scotland

Alas, I don’t recall much of my thoughts on this Sherlock Holmes collection. I do remember that I enjoyed it more than I did the similar The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but I think that is more likely due to reading mood than any real difference between the two collections. One thing I found: these stories are just the perfect length for reading at lunch at work. In fact, I probably read more of this book on lunch breaks than any other book this year!

There were two stories I did find memorable: the infamous “The Final Problem” (of course) and “The Yellow Face,” which I noted offered a view of the restrictive life of women in the Victorian era: the client comes to Holmes concerned over what his wife is up to because she wasn’t home when he returned. However, it surprised me in the end, for a completely different social reason. I can’t say why without giving away the end (which I am reluctant to do for a mystery). Suffice it to say, not quite what I expected from a story from the 19th century.

Up next in the series, The Hound of the Baskervilles, which will hopefully be read for this year’s edition of R.I.P.

This book qualifies as a Classics Club selection, as one of my 2013 TBR Challenge selections, and as part of my Mysteries & Detective Fiction project.

outsilentplanetOut of the Silent Planet
C. S. Lewis
1938, Britain

I find myself forced to admit that I find it rather easy to forget that I read Out of the Silent Planet this summer. And that I needed to post on it. So, yes, not really my favorite Lewis. For one thing, it was far more work than I had really expected–trying to picture the environment, keep up with the made-up words. I don’t know if that’s a failing of the book or the reader (I don’t often read books with extensive world-building). That said, I will likely finish out the trilogy at some point.

“Yes,” said Oyarsa, ” but one thing we left behind us on the harandra: fear. And with fear, murder and rebellion. The weakest of my people does not fear death. It is the Bent One, the lord of your world, who wastes your lives and befouls them with flying from what you know will overtake you in the end. If you were subjects of Maleldil you would have peace.” (Ch. 20)

This is Lewis’s science fiction. Of course, it is also Lewis, so there is underpinning theology which shapes things, and which, I suspect, is what ultimately causes it to deviate from the expected. On the one hand, it is science fiction in the most expected sense, I think: space flight, alien planet, extraterrestrial beings. But what else we expect–that other is dangerous to man, that man is at the top of the totem pole–that is not necessarily so. Lewis really seems to flip some of the science fiction tropes around*–as well as act as a sort of commentary on British colonialism. (I think. It seems…) Although mention is made of “white man’s burden” and it is clear that villains Weston and Divine want to take the traditional colonizer’s/explorer’s route of raping and plundering a new world, main-character Ransom’s interactions with the “natives” are so radically different. While there may be some hint at the concept of “noble savage” in the inspiration of the three different groups of Malacandra, I think what Lewis really presents is an alternate Earth, one where the Fall (of man) hasn’t happened: Malacandra shows us what might have been. Thus, the hnau are friendly, open, welcoming. They are not innocent, i.e., they have knowledge that evil and darkness exists (something Ransom seems not to recognize at first, as he attempts to shield them from knowledge that there is evil on his home planet), but they are good. I think Lewis’s theology is more subtle here than in the Narnia novels, but it is still present. Indeed, this reminds me more of Tolkien’s Silmarillion than Narnia. (Also, I thought the last chapter, the one that could almost have been left off, the best part.)

*Legitimate question: would Lewis have been writing this before some of the standard SF tropes existed?
The-Raven-BoysThe Raven Boys
Maggie Stiefvater
2012, U.S.

I believe I mentioned earlier this summer that I’ve been experimenting with listening to audiobooks while driving home from work. I know many people love audiobooks for their commutes, but I seem to have a great difficulty with attention paying when listening to books. Which is odd given that my dad read to my brother and I for many years–if we made it through The Lord of the Rings why can’t I listen to a professionally produced audiobook without frequent rewindings as my attention constantly wanders to other things? I’ve found that “easier” books or rereads work a bit better, so I took advantage of a summer series of free YA offerings through audiobooksync.com. I’ve only listened to a couple so far, but it was Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys which really grabbed my attention–so much so that I stopped listening to the audiobook and picked up a paper copy at the library. You can throw your “but audiobooks are real books” at me all you like; I simply can’t listen well enough to stick with an audio version of something I’m enjoying so much. Of course, this means I was next hit with the unfortunate reality that The Raven Boys is the first of a (length unknown to me) series, and the second book didn’t come put until mid-September. Ah yes. I don’t mind waits, it’s remembering the earlier book(s) in the meantime that’s the problem.

The Raven Boys qualifies, I think, as a contemporary fantasy. Maybe. I’m vague on definitions. It’s set in the U.S. south, Virginia specifically, in the present day. The main characters are all high-school students, most of whom attend an elite private school, and all of whom are on a quest for a mythical ley-line, with a few added psychics thrown in for good measure. There is much mention of a Welsh king, Glendower. I am rather reminded of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, which is perhaps the best comparison I know for the type of fantasy this is. (I am rather under-read in fantasy and definite terminology is beyond me.) Oddly though, while reading I was actually more reminded of Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Both are set in the south, with…unusual…high school students as the main characters, both have important scenes in the woods. And both give the name “Blue” to the main female character. (Is that a southern name then? Or just a “quirky” girl’s name name?) There’s perhaps not really any reason to compare the two, but I couldn’t help making the connection. It did make me think that perhaps I ought read more U.S. southern lit, as I seem to be fond of it… Also, perhaps mythologies and legends from the British Isles.

I actually don’t have much else to say beyond that I really enjoyed it–I think for both the characters and the atmosphere–I kept listening to Loreena McKennitt’s Celtic influenced music while reading, which seemed completely appropriate. (What? Doesn’t everybody match their playlist to their reading?)

In terms of atmosphere, this seems appropriate for seasonal R.I.P. reading, but as I read it this summer, I’m not including it on my list. Also, if audiobooks are your sort of thing, I thought it very well narrated.

Phew. All caught up. Now I can return to reading guilt-free. Let’s just not let this happen again, shall we?

At the Turn of the Year


As I write this, it is already the New Year in most of the globe, while I am still wondering if I shall manage to stay awake to see it in at my time zone. It is incredible to me how quickly this year has sped by, yet at the same time when I look back to the beginning of the year it feels so far away. I didn’t really know at the start of the year what I expected 2012 to be, and I can still say the same at the start of 2013. It may perhaps be more of the same–and if so, at what cost?–or perhaps it may change for the better (and I hope, not the worse). But life so often has a way of popping up upon us unexpectedly, that perhaps I can never anticipate what may be.

I can say with some satisfaction that 2012 reading was more satisfactory–both quantitatively and qualitatively–than 2011. I started the year with many reading goals and plans, most of which weren’t met, but I learned in the process that such plans are only of limited use to me. I may perhaps finally conquer a taunting text, but at the expense of not following my whim and leaving other books aside. So I enter 2013 with few plans beyond the next month, determined to continue to allow one book to lead to the next–and the allow myself the chance to join in on readalongs or short-term challenges as they strike my fancy. It was one such readalong that led me to some of the best books I read last year, so I think I prefer to leave open in my reading time to allow such challenges.

I don’t read enough books to create a “top-ten” list, but I did have some highlights last year (in order finished):

  • The Savage Detectives – Roberto Bolaño – I didn’t exactly like it, but there isn’t another author I read in 2012 whose other works I want to read more than Bolaño’s, and I will probably at some future point read The Savage Detectives again. Probably my second-favorite read this year.
  • The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco – I wouldn’t have read this had it not been for a readalong/readathon, but would have missed out had I not. Not always easy, but surprisingly entertaining considering the amount of theology and theory.
  • The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien – More difficult to work through than his more famous works, but I just might like it better. Easily my favorite this year.
  • Old Testament – For as much hard work as this is, there is something about it that makes me want to start all over again, now, even the boring parts. It’s simply impossible to take it all in on just one pass. I’ll finish the New Testament first, though.

I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions, although if I did, I would resolve to finish posts in a  more timely manner so that I don’t have to cram two month’s worth into December 2013 as I did in 2012. Goals, however, I am fond of, even if I cannot remember what my goals were last year!

  • Read at least one more book in 2013 than I did in 2012–removing only partially read books from my 2012 list, that means I should aim for twenty six books.
  • Although I want to follow my whim, I would like to also try to read at least one book completely in Spanish this year. I have quite a few on my shelf to choose from!
  • Successfully complete a challenge that isn’t my own this year. Or a readalong within the actual timeframe of the readalong rather than a month or two later.
  • Read at least one book from each of my currently-existing project lists (I libri italiani,Mysteries & Detective Fiction,The Original Classics, Siglo de Oro, Realists and Romantics, Sensation!, Shakespeare & Co., Libros españoles)
  • (Non-bookish goal) Finish up all of the projects currently in my knitting basket, less the Lewrick Shawl (which will probably take a year on its own…)
  • Watch and post about at least 12 films for my Cinematic Treasures project.
  • Finish at least 10 books from my Classics Club list.
  • Read the four or five books on my shelf that I want to read once and then get rid of.

It is this last goal that finally decided me in favor of attempting Adam’s TBR Pile Challenge again. I failed miserably last year, but I think this year’s list is perhaps more feasible.

I leave 2012 with three books in progress, Ficciones, The Woman in White, and Little Women, but this year it doesn’t bother me not to be able to place them neatly in one year or another. The first two will be ignored until after January; the third I hope to finish soon.

January, of course, will be the Children’s Classics event, which I am hoping will be much fun. My specific plans are adaptable, outside of the readalong title, The Princess and the Goblin, but there’s also the aforementioned Little Women and I have a copy of Pinocchio sitting on my shelf waiting patiently. I’m probably mad to try to finish it this month, as it is the Italian, not a translation, and I’ve forgotten most of what little Italian I know, but the first sentence I understand, so attempt it I shall.

And with the goals finished, the old year fast fleeing, I wish you a Happy New Year! Welcome 2013!

Why I Read These Books: Part 1

Phew. September was a crazy month. Crazy busy, at least. My feed reader is in a dreadful state and I’m afraid I’m going to have to apply the dreaded “mark all as read.” But I’m otherwise caught up now, and with a backlog of posts I need to write, of course. I hadn’t intended that any of that backlog include the monthly Classics Club question, but that is in part because I’m a month behind, and October’s question, as it happens is one I ponder with some regularity. I’m going to cheat here, and make this a two-part response. I’ll link this post, Part One, as it’s the more emotional response and therefore just more…fun! Tomorrow, or perhaps Monday, I mean to post as Part Two some thoughts on reading that came to me as I was in the early part of Geraldine Brooks’s Year of Wonders, which I initially intended to post a month ago. This is the more intellectual response, and as such probably not the post that will convince reluctant readers to try Old Books by Dead People. So I link this one!

Why do I read the classics?

I’ve touched on why I read “classics” in the past, several times. Why I want to work on  a personal “Great Books” project. Why I Read, at all. Having read many classics in middle school, high school, and college (university), I can say that many I just plain enjoy. No great motivation, no attempt at some sort of intellectual sophistication. Sure, Shakespeare sounds intimidating (looks intimidating–have you tried his plays without any notes?!), but a good live performance of one of his plays and you know how entertaining they can be. I found one of the earliest mysteries, Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone  unputdownable. And Dracula? Dracula I found so purely enjoyable that I’ve read it twice and would gladly read it again. But it’s not just that. To say it’s just surface enjoyment seems inadequate. Earlier this year, I was reminded of how powerful reading great books (many of which we call classics) can be, and I don’t think I can explain it better now than I did then. (Full original post HERE.)

But this year, so far, most of  my reading has been outstanding. And I’m reminded how much I like the “difficult” books.

The truth is, not all books are equal. Some are just plain better than others. These are usually the sorts that make the lists. But how we define what is great, what is good, what is a classic, that is a mystery. We can’t really predict, not truly, what will endure. My own experience leads me to agree that “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” (Italo Calvino) These “great” books, these classics–they’re the ones that don’t let me go, that I can’t escape. Returning to them with gusto this year–and reading one or two that aren’t–I remember why I prefer them. It is a response both emotional and eventually, as I learn, analytical. It is critical. It is visceral.

And this takes me back to the early days of this blog.

Way, way back, before anyone really read this, I proposed for myself a goal of searching out the greats, of trying to learn why they are so classified, what elements make them great or best. It was an analytical goal. But I’m learning that it is an emotional goal as well. It’s one I’ve neglected, but as I find myself returning to the best books, I find I don’t want to abandon it again; these are too good, too powerful to ignore. I want to be abducted by these books, to have my world-view turned upside down, to lose myself to their seductions.

This is why I read, why I read the great books. I’d just forgotten it for a while.

Why We Need Challenges

I don’t usually write posts that are acting as responses to other posts, but I saw a comment recently that suggested that it’s a little silly to have reading challenges for reading outside of our language/country and another that readers should already be naturally exploring translated fiction. Since this seems to crop up from time to time, especially in connection with the concern that we readers, from all countries, tend to focus too much on the English-language dominated “canon,” I thought I’d chirp in, at least so that I can focus my own thoughts.

While some of these points may be valid or well-intentioned, and while I think the whole discussion is ENTIRELY different for those whose first language is not English (see: this article about the reading habits of Europeans, many of whom apparently prefer English-language books), it seems a bit naïve to me to believe that readers—especially US readers—will naturally gravitate to translations or works from outside their country. To illustrate:

In 2007 I created a LibraryThing account and entered all the books I had read at that point. I have kept a list of what I’ve read since mid-1997, so the numbers go back that far: 343 books read since 1997. Of these, 30 were translations. Another one was half-read but not completed (so not in my completed list), and one was read in the original language. Four were written in English by authors originally from outside the US/Canada/UK.

I categorize them as follows:

Books read for school (required, high-school & university)

    1. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes) [half-read—shhh—don’t tell my teacher!]
    2. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez)
    3. Selections from the Decameron (Giovanni Boccacio)
    4. Waiting (Ha Jin)
    5. The Odyssey (Homer)
    6. The Romance of Tristan and Iseult (Joseph Bedier retelling)
    7. La Casa de Bernarda Alba (Frederico García Lorca) [read in Spanish]
    8. Medea (Euripides)
    9. Antigone (Sophocles)
    10. Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)
    11. All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque)
    12. Night (Eli Wiesel)
    13. The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende)

Books read on my own

    1. Bible (Anonymous)
    2. Daughter of Fortune (Isabel Allende)
    3. Portrait in Sepia (Isabel Allende)
    4. Eva Luna (Isabel Allende)
    5. City of Beasts (Isabel Allende)
    6. Zorro (Isabel Allende)
    7. The General in His Labyrinth (Gabriel García Márquez)
    8. The Club Dumas (Arturo Perez-Reverte)
    9. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
    10. The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas)
    11. Arabian Nights (Husain Haddawy translation)
    12. The Alchemist (Paolo Coelho)
    13. The Metamorphosis (Ovid)
    14. Perfume (Patrick Susskind)
    15. Around the World in 80 Days (Jules Verne)

Books read because of online challenges/readalongs

    1. The Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri)
    2. The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco)
    3. The Savage Detectives (Roberto Bolaño)
    4. Santa Evita (Tomás Eloy Martínez)

Books in English

    1. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, for school)
    2. In the Time of the Butterflies (Julia Alvarez, for school)
    3. Ilustrado (Miguel Syjuco)
    4. Saving the World (Julia Alvarez)
    5. Waiting (Ha Jin)

Not counting the last 4, that means 32/344 [includes incomplete book] were translated works, or  9.3%. That’s it. In 15 years. If it hadn’t been for school requirements, I might not yet have read the 13  for school,  and another 6 from my “on my own” list, having discovered their authors through school. That would bring my average down to 4%.

Why do I tell you all this? Because I think it’s fairly reflective of a typical American reader. Go to the library, the bookstore, and the books on the shelves are far and away mostly works in translation. In fact, I’ve had to request several books from outside my library system because they weren’t available (and my library system isn’t small). Or, if you don’t believe me, look at the Classics Club lists—over 150 of them and the vast majority (not all!) are heavily focused on American/British fiction. (I should note, a number of these lists are by readers for whom English is a second or third language, so they are reading outside their tradition.) So when I see a reader saying that they feel it should just be a given that someone spends, say 10% of their time with works from outside their language or country, I feel it is naïve at best. There are all sorts of reasons (excuses?) many readers aren’t doing so, good or bad. Some of those I can think of:

  • An abundance of choice within one’s own region.
  • A lack of readily available choice from outside of one’s region.
  • Marketing successes and/or failures: success at promoting the local market, failure to promote the “outsiders”
  • Those pesky lists: while they can be great—the international edition of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die includes many, many non-US/UK authors I’d never heard of—, many of them are very English-centric. One prominent example: the MLA 100 top books of the 20th century. Among the criteria for books on this list was that they be originally in English. The list is full of great books (and room for debate, of course!), they just happen to be all in English.
  • Fear. Fear that we won’t get it, because the culture is foreign, or the references are meaningless. (This is a good reason for good annotated texts!) Fear that the translation will “feel” like a translation—that it will be rough or bumpy. Fear of names we can’t pronounce. (Actually, for me, this is a major annoyance—I want to say it correctly, darnit!) Fear that it will just be plain hard.
  • Bad experiences with bad translations.
  • Plain ol’ lack of interest. If I as a reader prefer a particular genre/style and I can’t find translated works in that genre/style, I might see no reason to bother.
  • Too many books already on our lists! Even though I’ve lived my entire life in the US, there are still an abundance of books by American authors I’ve never read—I’ve read almost none of the 20th century “great” books.
  • Not knowing how to find them. Finding non-English classics from before 1900 or so can require a lot of research if you want to go beyond to obvious, such as Dumas, Hugo, Dante, etc. (The best suggestion I’ve seen relative to this is to ask a professor of literature of that language.)
  • We’ve not been exposed to other literatures or cultures or are actively biased against them.
  • I’m sure there are others…

So this is why I think it’s naïve—and can come across at times as downright snobbish—to express dismay at other-language/country challenges or to confidently assert that most readers should be reading works in translation without difficulty. Challenges remind us when we’re not doing as well as we might like. They introduce us to books we might not otherwise find—not to mention other readers and points-of-view.

Now there’s another little pickle as part of this: the “serious” reader, which is often part of the conversation. I both agree and disagree with the notion that a “serious” reader should be naturally looking outside their comfort zone.


  • Even if you are focused on just one area of literature, there are usually foundational texts that are commonly referenced within in that tradition. For example, the Bible and the Ancient Greeks are common sources to literatures of many countries. So even if you aren’t “studying” the books you are reading, it can be useful to know these background works so you can follow the story.
  • I think anyone who has spent a lot of time thinking about reading and books will likely realize that there is so much more out there than they now read. (And then panic. How can we get to it all?)
  • I am almost always in favor of expanding our own boundaries and 100% in favor of life-long learning. (Although…have you heard about the guy with 29 degrees? That’s an extreme I can’t imagine going to…maybe if I were independently wealthy…)
  • The most famous works from other countries are often part of the cultural conversation, just as works from our own countries are. It just makes sense to read them.


  • The Definition Problem. What do we mean by “serious reader”? I think a lot of people might say “someone who takes literature seriously” (wow, is that circular logic or what, Amanda?), but to some that might mean nothing more than reads a lot, regardless of the level of their reading. I have a feeling this could be one of those definitions that could result in a lot of contentious debate. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a definition, just that it could be hard to arrive at a consensus. (To be clear, I think a “serious reader” is more about the quality of reading rather than the quantity, but I think it becomes really sticky when we start trying to qualify which those quality reads “should” be.)
  • If someone has already spent a good chunk of time focusing on another country or language or style, and has chosen to move on/return to their comfort zone should we figuratively wrap their knuckles for not pushing the boundaries?
  • If someone is just starting out their explorations, they may not yet realize how interconnected so much of literature is, or the value of exploring other-language predecessors. I certainly never thought about it until a year or two ago. (Thanks, Dante!) I don’t see the need to scare someone away by questioning how “serious” they are if they aren’t pushing the boundaries.
  • The risk of turning someone off a real exploration of reading by telling them they’re not (already) serious enough. This might not bother some people, but I’d rather not do that. Baby steps.

So I’ve probably dipped my foot into a highly charged topic, but I figured if I was running the thoughts through my brain, I might as well type them up. And also depress myself at the thought of how many books I still have to read. Please, ancestors, tell me I have your longevity genes—it looks like I’m gonna need every year I can get and then some!

As for me personally, why do I wish to explore works from other countries/why do I join challenges?

Mostly, the honors Colloquium I as required to take in college: most of the books we covered were from other countries. One Hundred Years of Solitude (plus all that high-school Spanish) really sparked my interest in Latin American fiction. Also, my semester in Italy prompted me to consider I haven’t read much in the way of Italian fiction (one book to date, eek!). One thing just leads to the next. So, the best thing I think we as bloggers can do is promote, promote, promote—and not just among ourselves, but everywhere. Italy had nothing to do with reading for pleasure, but it certainly enriched my life—and hopefully my reading.

Promote, encourage, celebrate!

Some challenges I’m currently aware of:

Edited to add: Tom quite correctly pointed out in the comments that Waiting (Ha Jin) was actually written in English. I’ve relocated it, but not adjusted the math.

Guilty Pleasures?

Thinking about Death Comes to Pemberley and fan fiction, my mind wandered to the idea of “guilty pleasures.” As I understand it, the general consensus definition of “guilty pleasure” is something you enjoy but think you shouldn’t, like say, a really bad pop song: everyone agrees it’s terrible, but you can’t help liking it anyway.

This takes me to a podcast I listened to back in December. I’m a bit of a National Public Radio junkie, and a group of their pop-culture staff (reviewers of  movies, music, books) put out a weekly podcast touching on pop culture topics. They discussed the idea of “guilty pleasures” on their Dec. 9, 2012 edition. If I recall correctly, the group mostly felt that there really isn’t such a thing as a “guilty pleasure”—we enjoy what we enjoy and shouldn’t have to defend it. (Unless of course, we’re talking something that really does involve guilt, say serial murder. Ahem.) So by that rule, it doesn’t matter how bad the tune is, if you love it, so what?

I’m inclined to agree with this second perspective. If you saw my iTunes playlist you’d understand: I have almost every style and era represented, excluding non-Western music, with which I have little familiarity. (Some might say I have no taste, but that’s another discussion… 😀 )  I like what I like, and when the mood strikes me I’ll listen to what I want. But when it comes to books, I’m not so sure. After all, it only takes up a few minutes of time to listen to a typical song, but a book can take a couple hours or more. When I’m seeking to be abducted by these books, to have my world-view turned upside down, to lose myself to their seductions, do I really have time for the throw-away, but terribly fun novel? On the other hand, sometimes all I have brain power for is that fluffy read.

Defending our reading choices, or even just feeling the need to defend them, seems to take a terrible ton of energy, not just in the book blogging world, but beyond. How many of us have ever been asked, disdainfully, “are you really reading that?” Or for that matter, felt the need to justify a reread, when there are “so many other books out there”?

I’d like to say I stand strong and pooh-pooh the whole conversation: we like what we like and what does it matter to others, but I know that I’ve felt the need to defend myself in the past, or more especially, to selectively edit when answering the “so what do you like to listen to/read” question. Certainly, I’d rather not spend my energy tied up in justification of something, that when it comes down to it, is really rather pointless. At the same time, then, I need to remind myself not to judge others for their pop-culture choices. We like what we like, even when we don’t understand someone else’s preferences. And let me tell you, there are some I really don’t understand!

Oh, and for the record: if there is such a thing as a bookish guilty pleasure, my sin is thrillers, poorly-written or otherwise.

So what about you: do you believe in bookish “guilty pleasures?”