In defense of fluff.

I love to read.

This represents about 1/3 of the books in our house. Yes, we're obsessed with the written word.

Now, when I say I love to read, I don’t mean I really, really like it.  I mean I have to do it everyday or else I get twitchy.  Which is why there are random books in every bathroom of my house.  On the days I don’t get to sit and relax with a book because of a surplus of tomatoes or children or messes  I sneak off to the bathroom to get a quick fix during an “unavoidable delay.”  Which is more than you probably ever wanted to know about me.

I am also the fastest reader I know.  (I realize that there are probably hundreds of people who read faster than I do, but I don’t know them.  So obviously they don’t count.)  Now, I’m not bringing this up to brag, because what fool brags about their reading speed?  You brag about your new car, your child on the honor roll, your job or, possibly, your ability to grow tomatoes like no other.  But reading speed?  Pfiff.

I mention it because my ability to read fast allows me to not have to be picky or selective about my book choices.  I can follow my heart and mood and read whatever I want to read, knowing I will probably have the time to read other, perhaps more deserving books, later.

During the past 37 summers of my life, I have gone on various reading sprees.

One summer, in my quite distant youth, I remember reading every single Land of Oz book ever written.  That was also the summer I resolved to name one of my children ‘Glinda.’  Sadly, my husband vetoed that choice, but I still maintain that a little girl with curls named Glinda would have been AWESOME.

Another summer during my teenage years was spent reading John Steinbeck’s work, novel after depressing novel.  It was lovely.  All of Steinbeck’s downtrodden, tragic heroes mingled with my natural teenage surliness and angst.  Even now, as an adult, when I have a really bad day I find myself reaching for East of Eden.  It really helps knowing that other people (even fictitious ones) have crappier lives than me.

Throughout my reading career I have gone through Greek mythology phases, King Arthur phases, Tom Clancy phases, Trixie Beldon phases, Robert Jordan phases, L.M. Montgomery phases, contemporary poetry phases, and a Chaim Potok phase in high school that made me want to be Jewish for a brief moment.

Two summers ago I read every book on homeschooling I could get my hands on.  Last summer I began a homestead reading spree about raising chickens and pigs that lasted several months.  And I am still determined at this point to be a farmer when I grow up (more.)

So what am I reading this summer?  What enlightening, culture building literature have I been perusing?

Urban supernatural fiction.

No, you didn’t read that wrong.  I am proud to announce that I have spent my reading time devouring books about werewolves, vampires, demons and other things that go bump in the night.  These novels usually include quick witted dialogue, some sort of terribly tragic love triangle and book covers that range from mildly pornographic to full blown “whoa Nellie!” images.

I do not feel bad about this frivolous waste of time.  In the past six months watching my sweet Daddy decline and pass away, I have had enough realism.  I have had enough seriousness.  I have had enough pain.   I need campy, I need superficial, I need light reading material.

Basically, I need fluff.  And the urban supernatural thrillers with their fast paced story lines and their gaping plot holes do it for me.

Here are the best series I have read this year:

The Morganville Vampire series, by Rachel Caine.  I would only read this series up to number 6, after that they get a little sloppy and weird.  Vampiric computers?  Not cool.  Just dumb.  But the first six books have incredibly entertaining and snarky dialogue.  They also have a slightly unique plot (vampires completely rule a small Texas college town) and interesting characters.  This series is aimed at teenagers, but can be fun for more mature people.

The Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow.  Come on, you know you want to read a book written by someone named Lili St. Crow!  This series is agressive, gritty, and fast paced.  There is lots of blood and fighting, which I found oddly therapeutic.  The series can also be a bit scary.  The first book in the series had a scene that scared the pee right out of me.  Which was lots of fun, strangely enough.  The final book in the series comes out sometime in November (squeal!  I can’t wait!)  Be warned:  the heroine Dru Anderson swears like a sailor.  So if that bothers you, skip this series.  However, despite its cliched love triangle there haven’t been any teenage sex scenes, which is refreshing.  The series is geared toward older teenagers, but doesn’t feel very juvenile.

The Mercedes Thompson series, by Patricia Briggs.  So far I’ve only read the first two books in the series, but I really, REALLY like what I’ve seen so far.  This series is directed at adults, which is nice, and therefore it feels a little more finished and polished.  The writing is higher quality, there aren’t huge plot holes in the story, and best of all each book is its own complete story.  There are no cliffhanger endings that force you to run to the library at the crack of dawn to get the next installment, like a literary crack addict.  Additionally, there is little swearing and not much in the way of gratuitous sex (although there is some very nice sexual tension between a few of the characters.)  My only caveat to you are the horrifically pornographic covers on many editions of these novels.  Oh.  My.  Word.  Please, whatever you do, don’t judge these good books by their covers.  (Now I know you’re going to click on the link, because you want to see what I’m talking about.)

So there you have my top summer reads.  While my mind has probably not been much improved by my inane selections, at least it has been entertained.

Viva la fluff!

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10 Responses to In defense of fluff.

  1. Sarah says:

    I totally understand the need for books to escape from reality sometimes. Totally.
    I have to limit my reading or my children might go hungry and naked while I am wrapped up in an exciting story line. If there’s something important to be done that week, I can’t start a book. Because once I start I can’t stop. I think it is a pretty good addiction to have.

  2. Mindy says:

    I hope for your sake that you were having an “unavoidable delay” while reading the first book in the “Strange Angels” series. You know, because having to do extra laundry or carpet cleaning only takes away from precious reading time.

  3. Michele says:

    Love your built in bookshelves!! I also LOVE taking books with naughty covers to the YMCA to read while I work out! The looks you get are PRICELESS!! I might have to change my antivampire reading and check out one of your featured series.

  4. whitney says:

    I think you ought to give ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ a shot. It might be the PERFECT mix of all else ridiculous and propriety and decorum!

  5. After grad school, I promised myself I would never read anything but fluff again. That was a lot of years ago and I’ve broken that promise a few times but not many. I love fluff. I’ve been reading the Hunger Games this summer (okay really this last 10 days – they go fast) and some of the Sookie Stackhouse books (much more fun than True Blood which is rather dark and serious).

  6. Mim says:

    I second Sookie Stackhouse and The Hunger Games series. While I will admit stopping after the 7th Sookie book, I still might pick up the series at a later date. I too have used the bathroom excuse to be in there waaaaay longer than the action actually takes. I recently admitted that to my family and they were appalled that I would use a bathroom function to escape them 😉

    Glad to meet you.

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