Wednesday, March 6, 2013

In My Defense (or why I don't read chicklit)

Yesterday, Shana wrote a (delightful and insightful) blog post about all of life's little annoyances that she's going to quit stressing over. It was inspired by how awfullyhorriblebad her workday was, but she realized there were other small things she had been sweating, too. Her 101 list, for example. Her list made me want to do a list so we're in the same boat here...we have just a handful of weeks to finish something like 80 tasks. Also, blogging. She is stressed about blogging and reading other peoples' blogs and commenting and following back. (I, too, put off blogging if I haven't been regularly reading and commenting on others' blogs. Ironically, reading others' blogs is usually not why we start blogging in the first place. Most of us started writing because it's what we love and something we would do even if our moms were the only ones reading.)

She also mentioned that she is stressed about how much she enjoys reading chicklit. And then, I'm pretty sure, she referenced me. Because she mentioned that one of her besties reads brainy books, like Condoleeza Rice's autobiography. Admittedly, I did attempt to read Ms. Rice's long-winded and detailed explanation of the Bush years. I gave up around page 350. Neal listened to the whole thing on Audible. Since then, I've read Bob Woodward's account of the debt crisis and I'm getting ready to start a David McCullough book about the American expats in Paris between 1830 and 1900. Her point being that she feels guilty for reading Jen Lancaster and Stacey Ballis during her commute instead of expanding her mind with autobiographies of great leaders and epic novels about the history of the Panama Canal. She shouldn't beat herself up over that. And I wasn't always this way.

Once upon a time, in a kingdom not that far away, I had a rather painful string of dating mistakes. Riddled with cheaters and liars and the occasional alcoholic and drug user, it left me fairly jaded and extremely wary. I would lie in bed for hours at night, reading about girls in big cities with big asshole boyfriends who pulled themselves up by their bra straps, kicked the guy to the curb, and made their lives better. My life was just as crappy as theirs and by page 300, they had turned everything around. Surely, I could do the same.

And then I did. I married a loving, kind, generous, and hysterically funny man who considers my happiness in every decision. He treats me like an equal partner and a princess, simultaneously. He has never knocked up my best friend, stolen all of the money out of our bank account, lied about poker night, or watched porn on my laptop. My life has less drama than any chicklit out there. And I love it that way. But if I read chicklit, I then begin to internalize the plot. What would I do if I discovered Neal had been staying late to "work" with his coworker? How would I handle it if I came home early to find Neal chatting with an ex-girlfriend? (Yes, the theme is cheating. For some reason, embezzling money or a gambling addiction wouldn't phase me so much.) Then, it all kind of goes to Hell. I begin reading way too much into every situation, into everything he says. I question too much, trust too little. And it snowballs until I'm scrolling through his text messages, looking for proof of anything. Then we have The Talk where he explains for the 763billionth time that I'm the one for him, forever and for always.

If I read The History of New York (or pretty much anything by Erik Larson), I'm good and, more importantly, we're good. I have a very active imagination. As a teenager, it won me some awards in creative writing contests and if I ever put my mind to it, it would probably make me a decent novelist. Shana reads it for the same reason she watches Duck Dynasty: to flip the off-switch at the end of the day. Unfortunately, for me, that off-switch turns on something else much darker.

What do you read at the end of the day?


  1. Mysteries, legal thrillers, and maybe the occasional erotica. Laters, babe!

  2. Am concerned about your Central Virginia education ... you HAVE been to Buzz and Ned's BBQ, haven't you? If not, it is on the must do list. No excuses!

  3. I love the way you write! And I don't do chick lit either but not for the same reasons as you. Life's too short and there are so many good books out there and so much to learn. I am so glad you have such a great husband. I am lucky in that way too. And thinking back to my single days....ugh! More than a couple of bad boyfriends in the past sure gives you perspective.

  4. I tend to hop from genre to genre just to keep it interesting for myself. I think my favorite kinds are probably suspense thrillers/psychological thrillers though.

  5. I think you are very smart to recognize that certain books take you to a dark place and then avoid them. But I'm not giving up on getting you to watch some Duck Dynasty. I think Brooke will agree with me as well.

  6. I read ALL kinds of books...I really like historical fiction...right now I just started Heidegger's Glasses. So far, fascinating.

  7. I like to read biographies, but usually of celebrities. I haven't ventured into historical figures, I probably should but at the end of the day I'm lucky if I make it through another chapter of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential which I've been reading for what feels like 2 years. Mike finished it in a week... and while I LOVE the book it's very, very well written but I feel like I can't focus on all the details, fearful to forget something. I feel pressure to consume it all. SO in the meantime I read about Tina Fey, or Sarah Silverman, or Hunger Games, or fluff in magazines. I like to read fitness magazines and while they all say the same thing, work out more, eat less, I still have this feeling I'll find a magical skinny spell inside.

    I have read a lot of bios in my life, some I'm still shocked I did. Like the one that "THe Rock" wrote about his WWE Career, and Chyna. Why did I read those? No clue. But they were good books, and my boyfriend at the time liked WWE.

    I often do the internalizing as well - I'm also very cynical so I think reading romance novels would just make me bitch, but I totally get why people love them. The escape is what makes them worth the read. :) Like a brain vacation.

  8. I never thought about this! Very interesting. I could be very much the same, but I think I kind of go the opposite direction. I take breaks from Chick Lit and stop reading altogether because I'm tired of reading unrealistic stories about women with great jobs and lots of money settling for assholes and then getting burned only to turn it all around and not having any lingering issues. Because you know, THAT happens. (end sarcasm) Don't get me wrong though, I love a good romantic comedy or a fun sassy little book, but in order to not become jaded, I step away from the unreality of Chick Lit. Plus, you're brainy and smart, I would be surprised if you DIDN'T read historical novels, to be perfectly honest. I would wonder where your vast knowledge comes from and then be jealous that you just KNOW things. LOL


That's it, let it all out....