Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Confession

Sometimes I read my kids' books.  Yes, that apostrophe is correctly placed -- I don't mean that I sometimes read books to my children (though I do, sometimes interminably) -- I sometimes find myself riffling through their piles of library books in search of a guilty pleasure.  Occasionally it's the result of a very dry week at the library, or a slew of incredibly depressing picks, read one after the other.  Other times, I'm just down in the dumps, and there's nothing like a couple of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books to lift one out of that state.  Very rarely, I spy a book that really looks interesting, and I squirrel it away to read it myself; I recently read the I, Q books,  which feature children + famous singers + terrorism.  Quite a good read, even if it is written for middle-schoolers.

By far the best books to read when one is blue, or bored, or desperate, are the books one is most familiar with.  I often go back to those I loved as a pre-teen; the ones I read over and over and formed so much of who I am today.  One of these is The Long Secret, the not-so-well-known companion novel to Harriet the Spy.  Another is The Night Journey, by Kathryn Lasky, which I don't know if I'd give my pre-teen daughter to read, but I still love to dip into.

Also good when I'm in that kind of mood are books that are so predictable one can figure out from the first page what the denouement will be, and one forgets the whole story within minutes of completing the book.  Often, these are books penned by authors who can only write one kind of story, so all their books are pretty much the same -- but so comforting, like hot soup.  One whose adult novels are now out of print, but is experiencing a renaissance as a childrens' writer is Eva Ibbotson.  Her adult novels used to be shelved with the bodice-rippers at the library I patronized as a teenager, but her books couldn't be more different.  They're all at some point before 1940, and tend to wander around Europe a bit.  There's always a nice female protagonist who's rather special in some way (this varies); a man or two is involved, and one is really nice.  Even the one who isn't nice isn't especially nasty.  My personal favorite is Madensky Square, but the others are just as good (and just the same, I might add).

I can't sign off without mentioning Rosamund Pilcher.  Her books are so comfortingly written, and her characters so likeable, that the reader finds herself (sorry, really not "guy" books) condoning the most immoral behavior on their parts.  I must have read The Shell Seekers fify times; it's a great beach book because it's set in Cornwall. 

So now it's your turn -- what are your guilty pleasures?


  1. Roald Dahl books are my guilty pleasure. I can't tell you how many times I've read "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Witches". I also love re-reading E.B. White's books. And I recently fell in love with "Cheaper by the Dozen" all over again. Which led me to read a great biography about Lillian Gilbreth, mother of 12 called "Making Time" by Jane Lancaster, a book which I highly recommend.

  2. Re. your latest poll:
    If I were stranded on a desert island, I'd want to have a non-fiction book which describes how to survive on a desert island (how to hunt, fish, create shelter, make a fire, send off smoke signals, etc.). All the other books would be a waste if I starve to death.

  3. So true, Ayala. I guess I'd want two books -- one for survival purposes, and one to pass the time until a rescue ship/plane/helicopter arrives.