Yesterday I wrote about guilt pangs I feel after a shopping trip to Half Price Books or any other big bookstore box store. But I have another reason to feel guilty about the book buying binges I go on every time I’m in the Cities. The truth is, I’m an English major who buys fluffy puppies at the bookstore.
What’s a fluffy puppy when it comes to books? Well, it’s a book that’s not high concept, great literature, or anything more than a thin plot in which lurks hope of a movie contract. It’s the book equivalent to a donut. You know, full of empty calories, fleeting satisfaction, and evokes a mild displeasure in yourself.
Take for example some of the fluffy puppies which have graced my nightstand in the past year: P.S. I Love You, The Nanny Diaries, and my current read du jour: Me and Mr. Darcy.
Is this a bad thing?
Outside of academic circles, few read Dickens, Kafka, Faulkner, et. al. With lessons about life and writing are embedded in all great works of literature, these books are definitely worth the time and patience it takes to truly absorb them. They’re just not always a whole lot of fun and to me, one of the most magical quality of writing and storytelling is its ability to transport us from our mundane lives into fabulous new worlds. When I’m spending most of my reading time mulling over the author’s meaning, the whole magical transportation things just isn’t really happening. Yet on the other hand, the unpolished writing of lots of fluffy puppies can be another point of contention which hampers my absorption into the book’s story.
I really hope I don’t end up writing fluffy puppies. And I certainly don’t harbor of producing great literature that will be read for centuries to come. I want to produce something that is appealing, well written, and interesting. There has to be a balance between great works of literature and the books which sell. But how can I recognize, how can I succeed, at the balance if I don’t have an understanding of one of these opposing poles?
I really have no excuse for buying and subsequently reading fluffy puppies. Other than that they’re fun and fast and when I’m feeling really optimistic, I like to think I might just be learning something.