“What are you reading?”
As a future librarian, this is the one question I, ironically, detest above all others. The fact that this is generally asked while I’m reading, yanking me from my imaginary world for an impromptu quiz, is a valid enough cause for the internal growl that meets this inquiry. However, it is not my primary motivation.
I’m a graduate student working two jobs. I read plenty for school and refuse to pay for cable television. As far as my understanding goes, all television is now comprised of sexy M&M dances and Liquid Plumber ads that make you horny. It just doesn’t hold my attention. So, when it’s time to settle down and relax, I read… the literary equivalent of Jersey Shore. As a general rule, I try to keep at least one classic novel on my Kindle. If I sense someone is going to rudely pry, I’ll open my copy of Little Women and claim to be engrossed in the tales of Amy, Beth, Jo, and the one that wasn’t interesting enough to remember. Sure, I could just claim I’m reading The Great Gatsby, but I take issue with lying. I’m terrible at it, probably because of this discomfort. Carefully negotiated truths and omissions, however, are not lies.
My mouth isn’t the only place I’m salivating…
No. Today, after reading chapter upon chapter on Children’s Literature and Collection Development, I want to read something that will slowly rot my brain, countering all that intellectual growth. For the same reason many women read Nicholas Sparks, I read… wait for it…
Yes, indeed. When I’m lost in my Kindle, I am likely reading about sexy winged men or hot vampires. Screw Fifty Shades of Grey. I want to read about controlling men who turn into dogs. I’m not making this crap up. I loved Beauty and the Beast when I was little. Sexy werewolf novels are apparently just the grown up application. Remember when you were five and you loved magic and witches, secretly wished you were Tabitha from Bewitched and spent obscene amounts of time staring at items in hopes they’d fly across the room Matilda-style? Yeah, that’s apparently still a thing amongst adult women and it’s manifested in paranormal romance. Only, you’re fighting the telekinesis and losing control until some hot telekinetic man comes and helps you get it under wraps. I’m not quoting any actual plot here, but I’m not exaggerating either. I’m floored that this is even a genre and I read it, myself.
While I’m just now realizing that there is this huge following and demographic for such storylines, I’m also realizing that many of us wisely lie about it. It’s one thing to read a PG romance where everyone has cancer, supremely mild daddy issues, and there are terrifying amounts of geese. It’s not deep either, but the cover art on that is a picture of a rowboat. The cover art on The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is a half naked man sucking a woman’s neck. How does one explain that to their coworkers? While I have had a customer assure me that she’s only interested in the plot and doesn’t intend to use it for masturbation, I didn’t believe her. I washed my hands after talking to her. Furthermore, as a graduate student and library worker, people expect me to have a better literary range than Eternal Hunter and The Mating. Web 2.0 for Library Professionals, however, isn’t it. I need to spend my downtime, the time most people spend absorbing some popular T.V. show I can’t actually name because I refuse to try new things in the television world after the aforementioned Liquid Plumber advertisement, reading more mainstream fiction that is just as much pretend as werewolf porn. I should do this solely so I can make myself sound as though I have any right to this Master’s degree I’m earning.
No, really… lots of plot.
In addition, I tell no one about my Good Reads presence, fully aware that my reading list is made up of memoirs, young adult fiction, and warlock smut. It’s never impressive, because I feel I get my real growth from my classroom reading and my brain hurts once I’ve done so. My point here is that reading material doesn’t reflect intelligence. I’m no less smart because my pretend stories involve sexy magic. It’s just entertainment. But I’m not going on that rant with a coworker. This is one of those situations where I have the uncontrollable urge to respond to the question with something entirely out of character and inappropriate. The sort of thing I could easily deny saying, because WHO SAYS THAT?!?
“What are you reading?”
“Why’s your mom so horny all of the time? Mind your own fucking business!”
They won’t ask again.