Hillary Mantel

One Man's Trash Is Another Woman's Treasure

“I’ll bet this, though: in a hundred years, people will be writing a lot more dissertations on Harry Potter than on John Updike. Look, Charles Dickens wrote popular fiction; so did Shakespeare - until he wrote his sonnets, desperate to show the literati of his day that he was a real artist. The core of the problem is how we want to define “literature”. The Latin root simply means “letters”. Those letters are either delivered—they connect with an audience—or they don’t.”

— Brent Weeks

I love books. Looooooooooove them. I don't just love reading them; I love their physical smell, feel and touch. Admittedly most of my reading tends to be done on an iPad now, but if you think this means I don't purchase the hard copies of the books as well - think again.

What the iThingy does allow me to do is indulge my very guilty pleasure. And it is a pleasure. And it makes me feel a little bit guilty, much like eating an Elegant Rabbit before Easter makes you feel guilty (don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about fellow chocoholics).

It lets me buy really, really trashy books without paying a fortune for them. Because I have to tell you, the thought of paying $30.00 for 'Penelope (A Madcap Regency Romance)' makes me feel a little bit as though I've eaten not just an Elegant Rabbit, but said bunny and the whole of Beatrix Potter's menagerie in cacao-bean covered form.

Rather ill.

Why? Because, dear reader, it is predictable, fluffy, turn brain off at the door baloney that means one thing;

I don't have to think.

I can simply let the words wash over me and know that in the end the slightly ditsy/clumsy/plain/poor yet intelligent and feisty heroine will end up with the stern/remote/emotionally damaged yet still ridiculously handsome and rich (and titled) hero. The End. And if I fall sleeps and miss a chapter or two because my iDooby flicks through, I won't even notice.


This means two things.

One, I give my brain a nice warm bubble bath of froth and silliness - a proper break from concentrating on the real world on a regular basis. And two, when I do read something worthwhile and incredibly well-written and challenging, I appreciate it all the more. For example - even though at the moment I think the British public has a fatwa out on her for maligning the Duchess of Cambridge (context people) - Hillary Mantel's Bring Up The Bodies was unputdownable. Just like Wolf Hall.

So give your grey matter a bit of a break, and indulge in some idiocy with your reading material. There is nothing wrong with some heaving bosoms and tight britchery - but for heaven's sake, don't stay in that world full time.

You'll get a toothache in the brain.

And may well start saying 'la, Sir' and smacking people with a fan when they tell you that you look nice...