Thursday, January 04, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

Which writers do you turn to for a comfort read - for something light and enjoyable and page turning ... even if you may not necessarily admit to enjoying them in public?

A survey carried out on behalf of the Costa Book Awards in the UK has revealed that:
Stephen King has beaten JK Rowling to the title of the UK's favourite literary guilty pleasure. ... the thriller writer is the most popular choice among readers looking for an indulgent read, with the adventures of Harry Potter coming a close second. ... 85% of those surveyed admitted to having an author they turn to for sheer gratification, but whom they might not admit to reading in pubic. Third place in the survey was tied between John Grisham and Dan Brown, while the fourth position was split between Danielle Steel and Catherine Cookson. Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels were placed fifth.
And on the Guardian blog, Richard Lea asks which books you'd choose for hangover reading (or, I suppose, a bout of flu) and gets some interesting replies.

I've only read the first book in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, but was so totally charmed that I will save the rest for a relaxing respite from books much heavier. I would read Stephen King and Rowling with great pleasure. Maybe I'd also add Roald Dahl to the list, and Nick Hornby.

I wouldn't be ashamed to read any of my choices in public.

But if those of you with an image to protect feel your choices make you look a little less high-brow or un-cool, those nice people at Costa Coffee offer you free dustjackets to print off and wrap round your embarrassment!


Kamigoroshi said...

Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake and the Merry Gentry series.

Ironically, the first book of the Anita Blake series, the one that got me hooked on in the first place is titled "Guilty Pleasures". It's been my comfort read for so long I think I've read it from end to end at least 10-15 times...and it's about 13 books long and still counting.

jawakistani said...

Phew! And I thought I was the only one reading Lemony Snickets and Roald Dahl. Hehe! But I dont think I'll touch Stephen King again after reading IT. It's just too much for me to handle. I dont think his books are light at all.


Ruhayat X said...

I can imagine why 85% of people might not want to own to what they are "reading in pubic [sic]", Sharon.

Anyway, mine would be the guy who wrote the Man and Boy series and Italo Calvino. Easy to read, these.

Ted Mahsun said...

My guilty pleasures are Michael Crichton and dare I say it - Dan Brown. *cue horror music*

animah said...

Dianna Wynne Jones.

R x, Italo Calvino is your guilt read?? Come on... So have you asked Miss Bee in Bonnet out yet? All Sharon's blog readers are in suspense.

Jane Sunshine said...

My guilty pleasure is Calvin and Hobbes. My last guilty escapade was Tanamera by Noel Barber. So cliche ridden but absolutely satisfying with an exotic Singapore, forbidden love and heaving passion!

amir said...

Sydney Sheldon, Stephen King and JK Rowling. I have NEVER bought any of Rowling's books, but have borrowed them.

These authors understand one thing - pacing - which is a valuable skill indeed if you want to market your stuff commercially.

And SHeldon has a lot of sex scenes as well.

Dina Zaman said...

tintin. anais nin. james herriot.

anna akhmatova said...

Sharon: Bryson and the extremely hilarious Peter Moore(my ex got jealous because I was guffawing so much while I was reading his book) are on the list of my guilty reads.

Another one on my list is the sad "WHAT THE MOON SAW" by Hans Christian Andersen.(yes,yes the fairytale writer) Read it when I was 6-years-old but didnt comprehend the depth of its poignancy until much later.
I still reread it from time to time.BUT anyone who hasnt read it should READ it albeit with the COSTA COFFEE dustjacket on its cover!

YTSL said...

Hi Sharon --

I clicked on the Richard Lea link but couldn't get his article. Perhaps your readers will have a better luck accessing his piece if they use the following link?

As for guilty pleasures: Maybe I just have no shame but I'm quite able to publicly own up to reading the works of JK Rowling, Dan Brown and John Grisham. OTOH, do feel a bit embarassed to admit that I do occasionally turn to some "how to" books for career advice... ;S

Kak Teh said...

sharon, may be this is off topic. but just to letyou know that another writer - tunku halim has joined the blogosphere -

KayKay said...

Why should reading certain books become "guilty" pleasures I wonder? Read any thing you want wherever you want, is my motto.I'm not advocating thumbing through Mein Kampf in a synagogue or bringing The Satanic Verses into a PAS meeting but why "confine" certain writers to the privacy of one's home? It would be quite sad if I had to stash my Crichtons and Connelley's away and whip out Foucoult's Pendulum whenever I step out.

KayKay said...

Just realised, my choice of words for the comments earlier have the potential to be misconstrued. When I say "whip out Foucoult's Pendulum" I'm of course referring to the BOOK, and NOTHING else that should NOT be whipped out in a public place, regardless of it being a "guilty pleasure" or not:-)

lil ms d said...

oo i forgot. all trashy magazines, in malay or english. yummy.

The Angry Medic said...

Oh come on, Sharon. You know you want to add Grisham to that list. Hotshot lawyers bashing the baddies relentlessly into the ground? It's great to see the good guys win sometimes. You know you want to. It's therapeutic. If I was a doctor I'd even make it an official recommendation ;)

Happy Noo Yer, btw!

Jen said...

Comfort reads, that I don't feel too guilty about:
Enid Blyton (rules!) The first English book I ever read was an Amelia Jane book (sadly, I've forgotten which) when I was in Std 2, and for more than two years after, I read nothing in English but Blyton (except a Hardy Boys book I couldn't make head or tail out of which I read for research, which is a story for another day). I also thought Blyton was a man until Std 5 when I came across a book with her picture on the back cover. :)
David Eddings
JK Rowling
Lemony Snicket
LMM Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon etc)
Women's magazines

During my latest funk, I also bought and re-read Little Women.

So I guess the trend here is kids' books. :)

Greenbottle said...

now, no wonder the likes of sydney fucking sheldon and john fucking grisham laugh all the way to the bank...even people with brain seems to be reading them. i hate people who are over 10 who read harry potter... my 'guilty pleasures' is mostly er porn...
having said that i will remain forever anonymous...

sympozium said...

Susan Howatch's family sagas...totally gripping!

BP said...

David Eddings, Terry Prattchett and Anthony Bourdain. I also have Michael Ruhlman's blog in my bookmarks.

I only read Michael Moore once because it was totally different from the usual flag-waving American prose, but then he got repetitive.

bibliobibuli said...

i did so enjoy reading about your comfort reads, though it was a bit of a shocker to read about kaykay whipping out his pendulum to impress the crowds

i also think it's sad to be ashamed of something we enjoy ...

junk magazines and kids' books. yes, should have added those too. also "the woman in black" susan hill. would like more like this. short, well-written horror stories.

angry medic - am not at all interested in reading about lawyers since i live with one and know how utterly boring ... ooops sorry, animah, sorry sympozium. maybe i should look for a relaxing read about a hotshot medic?

kak teh - thanks for the link and will follow it

ruhayat - man and boy series - the tony parsons? enjoyed the first book v. much. the only calvino i read "if on a winter's night" was v. clever and funny.

bp - bourdain - i love him. he's tasty and can write v. well too. another day another blog post. prachett i'm only guilty about because i still haven't read it and so many people really love him. (your pic is v. nice by the way!)

ytsl - thanks for correcting the link - i had a bit missing from the address. careless.

sympozium - haven't read susan howatch. maybe should.

jen - that's the second vote for tintin. long time since i read him.

Burhan said...

georges simenon, and anything with The Gang: jughead jones, reggie (that rascal! oh how i hate him!), betty, veronica, and archie andrews. a love triangle more than 60 years old and still going strong. you read a new comic every week and they're still able to find something new to crack me up. those kids!

intellectually tall said...

My guilt reads include Dominick Dunne's novels and some local writer who uses big words that only he understands and wanks all over his lone book.

Subashini said...

yes to kids' books as comfort reads: enid blyton, the nancy drew books, all those boarding-school girl books. old, old copies of jill, mandy, bunty, jinty annuals for girls.

all-time favourite "comforter": agatha christie. such tidy dead bodies, such nice amounts of port and brandy consumed in the process of unravelling the mystery, such predictable endings. ahhh.

in that vein, most cozy mysteries are comfort reads for me... dorothy l.sayers. elizabeth peters.

i agree with someone who said stephen king couldn't possibly be a comfort read - his books give me panic attacks. are a possessed set of dentures going to come alive and chomp at my thigh? yikes.

sympozium said...

Susan Howatch - start with Wheel Of Fortune, then to her other family sagas, then on to her Starbridge Cathedral series - chronicling the public and private lives of randy, messed-up English clerics.

Eliza said...

Kamigoroshi - you're not the only one who loves Anita Blake. I love her stories for almost the same reason I loved The X Files: Laurell Hamilton turned the gender stereotyping around and created a heroine who's as strong as her males without being masculine. Her narrative got better as the series progressed but I only recommend Anita Blake if you are into lots of sex and gore, and werewolves and vampires. Just lovely.
The author, by the way, grew up in an all-female household. :-)
Right now, though, I would say JK Rowling is my favourite guilty pleasure - her stories are still upbeat whereas Stephen King's tend to be depressing. Sharon - I will try out the detective story you mentioned! I am still a great fan of Dame Agatha and still idolise Hercule Poirot!

bibliobibuli said...

thanks thanks!