Notes from Crew Quarters: I Find the Reader Guilty
This is the time of year when we at Passages are itching to return to a time when we control our reading lists. So this week we asked our staff to share their most indulgent, secret, shameful reading.
Sofie Harsha, Associate Fiction Editor
My shame reading is this book I carry around with me everywhere I go called The Language of Letting Go. In it is an entry for every day of the year. It's a book designed for recovering addicts. (I'm not one.) But for some reason it fits with my life every time I read it (every day). I hide it beneath other books and in my purse so no one can see it, but now it's out in the open. :) I also have been reading tarot card descriptions of a tarot set my friend Cam (shout out) got me.
Tiffany Walters, Associate Fiction Editor
When I can no longer stand to look at the books that I’m supposed to read, books that are “significant” or “well written” or “classical,” and regarded by Those Who Know to be the books to read, I quietly sneak off to my bed to re-read the stories that helped me fall in love with reading; simplistic and yet fantastic stories for children. Those stories are not well written (I sometimes laugh outright at what I once thought was so moving, but which now seems cliché or trashy, sometimes both). The merit of those stories will never be established, and yet they are significant in that I continue to return to them. For myself, at least, revisiting material that was once important to me, even if I would be ashamed to name those titles here, is a necessary step in remembering the purpose and importance of reading.
Tyler Dettloff, Associate Nonfiction Editor
I read a dictionary when I tire of stories. As a "literature" person, it feels shameful to shed the elements of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that create "meaning" and humanness. But sometimes it feels good to cleave the Webster open to a random page and scan until you find a word that reads so strangely that you just want to speak it. Gloss; glossal; glossary; glossy; glot; glotal. Glotal is a word that I want to speak aloud, I want to breathe it and feel it on my throat, tongue, and teeth.
Jacqueline Boucher, Spoken Word Poetry
For the past decade or so, my shame reading has been literary-grade internet fanfiction, usually for films like The Godfather or books like The Secret History that, by all accounts, have no business having fanfiction written about them. Fanfiction can be kind of a dirty word in writerly circles, which is part of what makes it shame reading, but there are a lot of talented artists making their art in their own dark corners of the internet. I think it’s fascinating. I don’t share it with people, or even cop to doing it, except for on blogs for well-respected literary journals, apparently.
Caleb Nelson, Associate Poetry Editor
There's this book called "Dealing with Dragons" from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. It’s about this headstrong, I guess you could say, tomboyish young women. I like the series because the lead in the book is this woman and she kind of kicks ass. Plus, I’ve always been pulled towards the imaginary. And dragons are just awesome.
Rachael Belmore, Associate Nonfiction Editor
I met Anita in 2004 when a coworker handed me a copy of Blue Moon, the eighth book in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. Within pages, I was hooked. Anita Blake, narrator, heroine, and necromancer, was everything I’d always wanted to be. She’s intelligent, down-to-earth, and powerful. Her world, populated by irresistible vampires and wereanimals is a heady mix of action and romance. It is my all-time favorite guilty pleasure series; whenever I’m feeling sad or stressed, I know I can count on Anita to cheer me up.