Shame, Shame: An Intro to Guilty Pleasure Reads
In this first episode of BBE Shorts, Jennifer spends some time musing over what “guilty pleasure reads” means to her, and even reveals some of her favs to fall back on when she’s feeling down. She also explores what our listeners think of as guilty pleasure reads and hints at future episodes that dig more into why we feel guilty about reading certain things rather than others.
Some of Jennifer’s fav guilty pleasure reads:
Questions Jennifer Asks
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Welcome to the first episode of BBE Shorts My name is Jennifer and I will be your host for today. Paige can't come to the phone right now because she is being overwhelmed by the feral cat population around her house. But don't worry. I'm here to keep serving you the bookish content that you desire. If you are new to Big Book Energy, welcome. If you are returning, you are also welcome. We are two archivists and librarians talking about the thing we love most, which is books, big surprise. We get together every now and again to chat about books based around a theme. Season four's theme is Guilty Pleasures. In addition to BBE Shorts, we drop full episodes once a month for our amazing Patreon supporters. If you're not yet a Patreon supporter, you can always unlock our full library of content for as little as $5. Without further ado, let's get into the episode. This has already been a mess and a half, let me tell you, and I think this is what I get for trying to podcast without Paige. My original plan was that these episodes were going to be in video and audio format. So posted on our YouTube and on our regular podcasting apps. But my technology has failed me. My mic and my camera don't want to play nice anymore. I don't know. I'm going to have to figure that out somehow. So until then, these are just going to be audio. I'm sorry. Or you're welcome. One of the two. At least this way I can continue to just look like a gremlin while I'm recording. Like I don't have to pretty myself up for you guys, which is kinda nice, but ideally, eventually these will also be available on our YouTube. But anyway let's talk about guilty pleasure reads. I honestly can't even remember how the theme guilty pleasures came up. It was in our little bank of themes that we brainstormed up like ages ago, and we decided to throw it into the mix for our poll for this season. Because every season we let our listeners vote from four different theme options. And I think neither of us were expecting this theme to be as popular as it was, because it was really popular. It was pretty much a landslide in favor of the guilty pleasures theme. So what do I think of when I think of guilty pleasure reads? I guess first thing I think of would be like romance books, like books you might actually feel a little guilty or really embarrassed to be caught reading. Usually I think this has to do with like the classic romance covers, you know, it's a woman in a corset, tearing the shirt off of a studly man. I guess that's more period romances. So with contemporary romance, on the cover the man usually isn't wearing shirt at all. I remember one time when I was working at the public library, someone came in and checked out a supernatural romance where the cover was literally a naked man, like full frontal naked man. And he was supposed to have been like a werewolf who had just transformed back into his human form because it was a supernatural werewolf romance. And the only thing preserving the briefest bit of his modesty was this little tendril of mist coming up from the forest floor that just so happened to cover his manhood, you know? So I have to give props to this patron because I don't know if I could have checked that out in a public library. Like they didn't even go through the self-checkout machine. They came to a person and with a straight face, checked out this book with like this ridiculous cover on it. But I don't know, maybe I'm just like less mature than I thought, but I was like really impressed that they were totally comfortable checking out this book. There's also this really funny trend on instagram reels and probably also Tik Toks as well, but I haven't succumbed to the time sink that is Tik Tok yet where people pretend they get caught right in the middle of a spicy scene of a romance book. So yeah, there's this sense of guiltiness, a sense of like forbidden pleasure maybe with romance books? But thinking about it, that's not the only thing that comes to mind when I think of feeling guilty while reading, because in actuality, I almost never feel guilty over reading the content of what I'm reading. Like when I really think about it, I'm like, what am I actually guilty about? If I'm guilty while reading, like I, I'm not ashamed of the content of what I'm reading. So I usually feel guilty because I feel like I should be reading something else. There's some sense in my mind of what I should and should not be reading. So when I was in grad school, that was easy enough to figure out because if I was reading anything that was not my assigned reading for classes, that meant I was procrastinating on my work and I was creating a huge, horrible, stressful mess for future Jennifer. And yes, I did that every week of every semester of my entire four years of grad school experience. Although, to be honest, I was usually watching Netflix instead of reading for fun at the time. But definitely any time I did pick up a book that wasn't like The Making of Europe or Autumn of The Middle Ages or something, I definitely felt the guilt. So I'm not in grad school anymore. I should definitely not have that feeling anymore, right? So wrong. I am great at being hard on myself 1000% of the time, I am a Virgo to my core in that way. Now podcast reading is often the thing I'm procrastinating on, which literally as I record this, I am procrastinating on what I'm supposed to be reading for our next podcast episode. So any reading I do outside of podcast reading brings on that same guilty feeling that I'm supposed to be reading something else. I often feel guilty over reading YA or fantasy as well. If you didn't know already, I've been supposedly working on this read- my- shelf challenge all year. Yeah. That thing that I was supposed to be doing, I haven't finished a single book sitting on my shelf that I didn't read in 2020, like not a single one. And when the YA or fantasy book that has been making the rounds through Bookstagram, and I've been waiting for my hold to come in for months pops up in my Libby app. Yeah, I feel guilty checking that out over the very lonely books on my shelf, which while amazing, tend to also be much denser nonfiction or academic texts. So I'll admit they're not as exciting as Blood and Ash or These Violent Delights or something like that. In fact, I'm still technically on a Libby- Scribd- Libro FM ban, while I try and force myself to break my reading slump and get back into reading regularly, which for some reason has been a struggle for me probably since about January I think. Maybe actually now that I think about it, reading some of my guilty pleasure reads might actually bring back some of that joy for me? I know I often recommend that to people who are in reading slumps, like going back and reading some of your all-time favorite books can be really therapeutic in that way. Kind of breaking that block that you've developed about reading. I should probably take my own advice in that. I guess I just am really wanting to complete this read- my- shelf challenge. At least one book, you know, or maybe like 10 out of the 30 that I have to read would be nice by the end of the year, maybe. So that's been, that's been a struggle. But if you had to pin me down to like specific guilty pleasure reads, like specific books, which really, I just interpret guilty pleasure reads as books that kind of make me like squee with excitement when I get to sit down on a weekend and read them in bed all day. You know, it's just like that really excited feeling you have when you were like, oh my gosh, I just get to sit down and read this amazing book that I love so much. So I guess really guilty pleasure reads for me would kind of translate into like comfort reads. They're usually reads that I have gone through before. So I'm already familiar with them and the stories just make me really happy. And it usually is also associated with having like a full day to dedicate to reading them. So like plenty of time, it feels very luxurious to spend a full day on reading since I typically don't get to do that. But yeah, specific, guilty pleasure reads. This is going to be probably very, very cliche. Any Jane Austen book. Any Jane Austen. 100% guilty pleasure read, love it. Love to read it. It's very comforting for me to read Jane Austen. Also in the same vein any Jane Austen diary by Amanda Grange. She does a lot of Jane Austen interpretations, but the ones that I love the most are she does diaries from the perspective of the leading male roles in each Jane Austen book. So my faves are Mr. Darcy's Diary and Captain Wentworth's Diary because those are my favorite Austen leads, male leads, I should say. Anything by Eva Ibbotson, which is again, more kind of period romance. Although they're not spicy romance there They're not spicy at all, but they're just very like sweet romantic stories. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, which is a really good- I, I love this book and I don't know why people don't talk about this book, but I fucking love Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. I've read this book so many times and I would 100% recommend it. It is, I wouldn't say it's a fantasy, there are a couple of fantastical elements, but the fantasy, the, the magical elements are not really the focus of the story. So I guess kind of it's a fantasy because there's some magical elements, but for the most part, it's kind of almost like a political intrigue type book. It's set in kind of like a generic middle ages or later middle ages, kind of early modern European setting. And it's all about a girl's mission to take down a corrupt and evil king and place herself or her brother on the throne instead. It's just so good. I love the main character. She is amazing. And the romance in this book is probably one of my favorite romance stories ever. So yeah, if you haven't read it Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith yet you 100% should. Next up we have Radiance by Grace Draven and company. I think there's a couple of other authors involved with this one as well. And this is 100% a spicy fantasy romance. Love this story. It's total like friends to lovers type romance story, and it's amazing and the other like fantasy plot surrounding it doesn't actually take away for me. Cause that happens sometimes in romance. I'm just like, I don't need this extraneous plot. But it's not like that in this book for me. I haven't read the sequel to it, but I really, really did enjoy Radiance. Next up we have the Winter Night trilogy we already know from season three that I love this trilogy. I loved The Bear and the Nightingale. We did a whole episode on that, which is the first book in the Winter Night trilogy by Elizabeth Arden. And it's just amazing and I love it and it's a comfort read, which again, guilty pleasure... If you pin me down to specifics to me, seems to translate more into like comfort or nostalgia reads. And lastly, honestly, probably some of my favorite Webtoons that I read and reread over and over again, there are some Webtoons that I'm absolutely obsessed with and I'm actually planning on probably breaking those down a little bit more in a separate BBE Shorts episode. So definitely keep an eye out for that. I'll be giving you my favorite Webtoon recommendations. My favorite guilty pleasure, spicy romance Webtoon recommendations. But these are just my thoughts on guilty pleasure reads. What do other people think about them? I decided to reach out on our social media accounts to see what other people considered to be their guilty pleasure reads and I found myself really surprised with the variety of responses that I got. Some of the responses included: make your own adventure books; books you didn't finish- which I totally get that; psychology of serial killers or true crime books; horror or thriller books, so like anything by Stephen King or Robert B. Parker; fantasy, because it takes time away from keeping up with professional literature- which I also understand; Tamora Pierce because her books are comforting or nostalgic; murder mysteries; pleasure reading that's done solely for yourself; and finally fanfiction. So in my opinion, there's lots of different types of guilt in this list. The guilt of a lonely stack of books that stare at you from your bookshelf, silently waiting for you to pick them up again. I feel this all the time because that's basically all of my physical books, right? I'm failing in my unread shelf challenge. They're all just waiting to be read. There's also similar guilt to what I described before with my own reading: feeling like I should be reading something else, right? There's like other reading that's more important or should be prioritized higher than what I've chosen to read. I think fanfiction also brings up some really interesting questions for me. So is this worthy of guilt because it is building a story within another author's world? Are the stories not canon and that's why you should feel guilty about them? Or is it because they haven't been traditionally published so perhaps they seem less worthy of being read. Another thing that really interested me is that some of the respondents just answered with genres of books. What makes murder mysteries or thrillers a guilty pleasure? Maybe this satisfies a particular obsession on the part of the reader, making the reading itself more pleasurable and decadent feeling. But I wonder too if everyone is making their own unconscious judgments on what books are more or less valuable, like more or less valid to spend their time on. It was refreshing though that several people also commented on how they don't like to view these books as a guilty pleasure, but rather just pleasure reading. In truth, I think they've landed on a very healthy view of reading. Despite our theme title, Paige and I firmly believe that reading is reading is reading and we're actually hoping to dispel some of that guilt you may feel over the course of this season. It's all valid. You shouldn't feel guilty for reading something as opposed to something else. I would love to hear some more of your guilty pleasure reads. So make sure to reach out on Instagram or Twitter and who knows, I may even end up reviewing your guilty pleasure fav in one of my BBE Shorts episodes. Yes. The last question that I had thinking about introducing this theme of guilty pleasures for season four: where does this feeling of guilt come from? Scarlet! Good Lord. Okay, let me let the dog in here. I'll just leave this dog ASMR in the episode. Oh, my God. She's so thirsty. Now that we've gotten past our dog interruption, our weekly dog interruption- not weekly, it's just every time I am recording an episode, Scarlet wants to get in here, which to be fair, her water and her food bowl are in here. But most of the time it's because she just wants to check in and see what I'm doing and then she wants to leave. Anyway where does this feeling of guilt come from and why do we seem to automatically deem some books as being more valid than others? Or at the very least there are books we don't have to feel as guilty about reading. That at least in Western culture, which I'm most familiar with, there's actually a long history of guilt in reading that perhaps we have inherited. Whether it was preferencing religious works over other types of quote, unquote, frivolous literature or deeming the great works of Rome and ancient Greece to be foundational texts of an education in the humanities, these attitudes towards valuing some written words more than others has extended into modern day, even within the attitudes of institutions like public libraries, which we are still working to dispel today. The history of guilty pleasure reading is definitely something else I will be exploring this season, so stay tuned for more. And with that, thank you for listening to the first episode of BBE Shorts. As always, you can keep up with the podcast on social media. You can also see more book reviews by heading over to bigbookenergy.com. Finally, if you'd like to support the podcast, you can visit our bookshop store to get awesome books and support us and independent booksellers at the same time. Or if you'd like access to our bonus full length episodes and other exclusive content, head on over to our Patreon. All of these things will be linked in the show notes. Thank you for listening and I'll see you here next time. Bye.