Book Rioters have previously covered why books aren’t “guilty pleasures.” No one needs to feel bad or apologize for their reading tastes. This time, I’m going to push farther and say that you should be reading books that are considered “fluff” and you should feel good about it.
I’ve previously heard this related to eating healthy. It is important to eat things that nourish us, as well as things that taste good. While unseasoned steamed vegetables and dry whole grain bread are very good for us, it is the seasoning and the butter that make eating enjoyable.
Books are the same. We should imagine exclusively reading “improving” books as being like only eating things that are the most pure form of “healthy,” and, well, that’s not a particularly serotonin-inducing experience.
Tasty foods, and books, have their own means of nourishing, and I certainly wouldn’t want to slight the serious benefit that heavy cream and happily ever after stories provide. But also importantly, they keep you coming back. If reading, or eating, aren’t fun sometimes, then it becomes a chore. Just think “A Spoonful of Sugar” in reverse. Puritans be damned, sometimes fun is necessary!
Getting readers to return comes up among teachers and librarians who work with children. Kids need to select their own books so that they can learn what they like and so they can find Captain Underpants so funny that they’ll come back looking for something else that makes them laugh.
Some adults also limit their reading choices to books they think they are supposed to read. Have you ever read a book because you should read it, only to find that your interest wanes and you don’t really want to read anything at all?
If a steady diet of carrots and military histories sustain you, then you do you, boo. And if you ever decide you want to have potato chips and romance novels, we support that too.
We don’t need disordered reading, overly limiting our reading choices. Pick up your fluff books with pride. Not only do they have necessary fats and nutrients for a healthy mind, they also remind us that reading can, and should, be fun.