The Thing About “Guilty Pleasure Books”

guilty pleasure reads 2

I’ll say it straight out: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures.

I’ve heard people say that they’ll read YA every now and again “as a guilty pleasure.”

It doesn’t just extend to books. I’ve heard people say they listen to pop songs “as a guilty pleasure.”

That they watch chick flicks “as a guilty pleasure.”

That they eat ice cream “as a guilty pleasure.”

It’s EVERYWHERE. And it comes down to people feeling ashamed of what they enjoy.

So they legitimise it by calling it a “guilty pleasure,” by saying that they wouldn’t normally consume this type of thing. By that logic, everything I read would be a guilty pleasure. Most of the time people are referring to books like Twilight or something, but YA as a whole does come into it.

People should not be apologising for liking Harry Potter, or romance novels, or “fluffy books.” I’m not going to refer to Anna and the French Kiss as a guilty pleasure, because I don’t feel guilty about it.

Why on earth are we feeling guilty about things that make us happy?

Fifty Shades of Grey comes under fire for this more than any other book. And sure, it’s sad that it’s outsold so many amazing classic novels. But the amount of judging that goes on because someone’s read this book is appalling. What’s it for? So we can feel superior about ourselves for having better taste? That’s ridiculous.

This used to be me. I used to make fun of people who liked Twilight – I was part of the rather large Potterhead community that was vindictive towards not just Twihards but Stephanie Meyer. And that is awful. Although I was a bit of a twelvie πŸ™‚

But I don’t do that anymore because I don’t see the point in bagging out people for enjoying something. What kind of person does that make me?

I don’t see this attitude often amongst the book blogging community, I must admit. It’s mostly people OUTSIDE the community chastising us.

But you know what? I don’t even care.

There have been a few instances where people have laughed at me for what I’m reading. Because it was girly, or because it was un-intellectual, or whatever (I’m not even going to go into the misogyny of the former one…that will be another rant entirely). But I’ve decided not to care. I’m going to enjoy what I read regardless of what other people think.

And I guess that’s the only way to do it.

Same with everything else that’s a “guilty pleasure.” Goddamn it, I will listen to Disney songs and I will enjoy them. Same goes for DisneyΒ movies.

And all those people with superiority complexes can just deal with it.

What do you think of “guilty pleasures”?

51 thoughts on “The Thing About “Guilty Pleasure Books”

  1. I think I’ve definitely been guilty of (ha ha ha) using the “guilty pleasure” phrase every once in a while. BUT never for books. Because I’m reading and damn, there is nothing guilty about reading, whatever the heck it may be (SO I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!) I absolutely hate that in society there’s this culture of “lesser fiction” and it baffles me. Fiction is fiction. Someone poured there heart and soul into these words and now people are calling it lesser? I don’t get it. So I hate when people make you feel ashamed because you’re not sitting around reading War and Peace and chatting about the de se and de re arguments. What’s wrong with enjoying some YA? (I think I’ve digressed into another topic now LOL)

    That being said, I think the “guilty pleasure” phrase exists because society’s driven its popularity, you know? They’ve chastised certain topics, made them seem insignificant, culture wise, and I think the phrase comes out of mob mentality. Like we still want to break the mould of being the same person, but at the same time, no one can let go of society’s expectations and suddenly we feel like we have to justify our actions? So like wanting to be individual but still belong at the same time (I’ve lost it. Forgive me. Last HSC day LOL) You know what, I think I’m going to end this here before I confuse myself any further. The point is, I LOVE this post.

    • It baffles me too. The whole “holier than thou” mentality really annoys me, and I see it ALL THE TIME. Some people seriously need to listen to some Ke$ha and just chill out. And YA is so awesome. Haters gonna hate.

      I agree with you, and I guess “pop culture” is targeted because people don’t WANT to be part of the majority. They like to think that they’re consuming literature that is better…or something.

  2. Hahahah I completely understand what you mean! I’m so self-conscious of reading in public because people are going to judge what I’m reading, since it’s something they’ve never heard of. That’s why I just read my kindle in public. It’s so sad that YA is looked down upon, and I’m so glad there’s a blogging community here that supports what we read, no matter what the genre.

    I don’t have guilty pleasures in reading books either, only in eating ice cream. ;P
    i agree, why are we feeling guilty about things that make us happy? True, i will listen to a Disney song and belt out the words with all my heart. And not care, Or watch a Disney movie, and get excited like a 5 year old. (I’m kind of a Disney addict)
    So I’m going to do WHAT I want WHERE I want WHENEVER I want……….as long as my mom says It’s Ok. πŸ˜‰

  4. YOU SPEAK TRUTH. YOU DO. And yes, I’m not ashamed of my guilty pleasure reads….although mine are…things like Roald Dahl and I actually really enjoy reading picture books to my niece/nephew because I think it’s amazing that someone can tell a story in like 200 words. I need 50,000+ words to tell a story. I think picture book writers are GENIUS. Aaaanyway, I’m rambling.
    I don’t think people should be ashamed of liking movies/literature, especially stuff like Disney! I was really proud to go into Target the other day and see that they sold “Let it Go” shirts in older teen sizes. They’re letting teens embrace the love of Disney too! (No, I didn’t not buy a Let it Go shirt, but daaaang, tempted.)

    • I love picture books, though!! We read one in year seven and everyone was like “oh my gosh, why are we reading a picture book?” But they are SO CLEVER. And there are so many hidden meanings and…I just love picture books.

      See, that is so cool. I would love to have some Disney merch. Mine’s limited to HP stuff πŸ˜›

  5. First, let me take a moment to admire all those gifs again. πŸ˜€ Anyway, this post (or rather you) are a mind reader of mine, it seems. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures either, especially not for books. They’re pleasures yes, but I don’t feel guilty about reading anything.
    So sometimes when I eat too much chocolate I feel guilty, but I think last loses the true meaning of a ‘guilty pleasure’. πŸ™‚

  6. I am definitely self-conscious about what I read, especially if I’m reading at school where people will judge me. They already judge me about LIKING books, so I can imagine the teasing I’d get for books I read. (People think I’m going to be a book for Halloween, or do a bookish thing for EVERY project. GOD.) I do feel a bit guilty about reading Paper Towns because it is not really appropriate for my age, but I adore the book anyway. πŸ™‚
    This was a great post and very true.
    Books are books. We should not be judged by them, nor should we judge them. It’s like Kindles and paper books; we’re all readers! Let’s just get along.
    It doesn’t matter what you read or how you read; it matters that you DO read.

    • Yeah, I feel like my English teachers would TOTALLY look down on me for some of the books I read πŸ˜› Ohhh I felt the same way when I read Looking for Alaska for the first time. I was like…14, I think.

      Let’s just love books and not judge others for that πŸ˜›

  7. YES YES YES YES YES. This post is perfect. I used to feel this way about Taylor Swift’s music. A lot of my friends started to dislike it as we got older, but I still think it’s fun and catchy. I used to call it my “guilty pleasure” music, but I’m just so sick of it. I like it, man! And that’s all there is to it. πŸ™‚

  8. This is so true though. I love Disney I also hate it when people judge you based on the covers of your books (that would be my mum). I’m allowed to read pink! I’m allowed to read books with “kiss” in the title. I’m allowed to enjoy it. I shouldn’t feel guilty. It is not wrong. Thanks for this post. πŸ™‚

  9. You are so right. I’m not going to lie, because I too use the term “guilty pleasure” and I’m not so proud of that. The thing is, I’ve only ever used the term to “protect” my reputation amongst friends, family etc. Someone once said a journal-style book I was reading was childish, so I said, Oh, ikr? It’s such a giilty pleasure.” That was a lie/cover up. I love that series and it’s not childish. It may have a childish look to it, but it’s nothing of the sort. I’m making a concerted effort not to use that phrase. We’re just lying to ourselves to please others, and I don’t want to have to do that.

    • I use it sometimes too, and it bugs the hell out of me, because I shouldn’t have to. My friends/family should respect that I don’t like something because it’s a “guilty pleasure” but because it’s a “pleasure.” I will make a concentrated effort not to give a toss what anyone thinks of me πŸ˜›

  10. YES. YES THIS POST IS SPOT ON. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever, ever referred to something as a “guilty pleasure”, because, well — I refuse to be ashamed or embarrassed about something I enjoy. I love Twilight. I love it to bits. Sure, it might not be the BEST book out there — but I have opinions and I’m totally allowed to enjoy something. Books, in particular are very subjective, and it all boils down to the fact that not everyone is going to like the same things. (Which is good. Imagine if everyone liked/hated the same things?! That would be boring.) So yeah, calling something a “guilty pleasure” is like saying, “I really like this book but I don’t want other people to think I’m taking it too seriously, so I have to call it a guilty pleasure.” Um, no. With food, though — I kind of almost think that makes sense? Like, if you’re on a diet or something and you eat chocolate, you’re going to feel guilty. Therefore it’s a guilty pleasure. Buuuut with books I don’t think it really applies.


    • I probably have in the past, but I can’t be bothered anymore. And I don’t judge OTHER people for liking things anymore – I used to be such a Twilight hater, because I was stupid, and there’s absolutely no point. YES. Food does make sense. But, you know, chocolate is an important part of a balanced diet…

  11. This is SUCH great post. I get laughed at/stared at with ‘concerned’ looks based on what I’ve been reading before, but I don’t feel guilty about it at all! I like what I like, I shouldn’t have to feel guilty because someone else doesn’t like it!

    Lauren x
    Lifestyle & Book Blog:

  12. THANKYOU! FINALLY OMG THANKYOU!!! YES! I am very offended when I see people who have ‘guilty pleasures’ because oh god like you said if people ENJOY something, they shouldn’t be ashamed!
    I have to admit, when I was a twelvie, I was stuck in that twilight vs. harry potter debate because I was in both fandoms. But we’ve all been an annoying twelvie at some point and know that we row up a little and come to realise our lack of judgement.
    Although, in the cases of like, re-reading a bajillion times is a bit of a guilty pleasure, not anything against it, because re-reading makes you happy, but maybe because people know they’ve read it before and it’s more of an exasperation of themselves….in a way.
    (I write this while listening to A Whole New World anyway…. XD)
    Great post!

    • I know!! It makes me so sad. OH GOSH that debate. I was on the Harry Potter side. It was a very vehement time in my life. Thank goodness we’ve grown up πŸ˜›

      Yeah, that makes sense for re-reading. I mean, I’ve read Harry Potter probably about 7000 times πŸ˜›

      WOO DISNEY!!

  13. I agree so hard with this. I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t feel guilty about anything I loved, because by doing it I had already decided in my deepest heart that I wanted to do it. Life is so hard and has so many ups, that I refuse to feel guilty about the good things. The idea that worthy things must be suffered for is archaic. Great post!

  14. Uhuh, I agree with you. I for one don’t like it when people act all pretentious, all literature should be celebrated, and I keep my head out of best seller lists, and book awards, because some of the best books I’ve ever read are completely unknown, but that doesn’t make them less enjoyable. Should that mean that they are guilty pleasures? No. You read what you read because reading is fun. It doesn’t make you less intelligent, or ignorant – there’s no such thing as ‘dumb fiction’.

  15. There is no such thing, I agree. And it’s horrible how people judge because of it, and it SHOULDN’T BE HAPPENING! Pardon me for screaming, I get mad at things like this.

  16. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, either. If it’s a pleasure, why on earth does it have to be guilty?

    A lot of the time, I think it comes down to what you said – we feel inferior liking these “guilty pleasures” because of the superiority complex of those around us. And that, in all actuality, is really sad.

    In a perfect world, no one would be condemned for what they like. YA books, romance films, Disney songs and everything in between. But, for some reason, judgement is so very ingrained in the human nature, and I’m not sure it will ever go away.

    So I guess the only thing you can do is be proud of the things you love. Pride pleasures, not guilty pleasures.

    • RIGHT? You get me πŸ˜›

      There is such a superiority complex surrounding pop culture – well, while they look down their noses, I’m going to be jamming to Katy Perry, so their loss. But I think you’re right – we judge because it’s such a part of us.

  17. This is so spot on. I sometimes feel “inferior” because I prefer to read Stephanie Perkins and Rick Riordan and Sophie Kinsella over Charlotte Bronte or Oscar Wilde or Charles Dickens. Like, am I so unintellectual? But I’ve learned that it all comes down to your right to choose what to read. If it makes me happy and I am not stepping on someone’s toes, I just go for it. But I also try to branch out to other genres and next year, I’d like to start reading more classics. πŸ™‚

  18. Be loud and proud with your love of all things! I don’t really refer to things ad my guilty pleasures but for sure there are books which I don’t want people to judge me on. I read more YA than adult novels despite being practically 30. I think most people would think me immature if they knew just how invested I am in the relationships of teenage characters. But you’re right. My love of these things is one of the things which makes me me and I should probably try to stand up more for the things I love.
    That said – I sort of want to read more books which make me sound smart and not just have copies on my bookshelves… like Dickens, Faulks, and Fitzgerald…

    • PREACH IT. I guess it’s not as hard for me, being 17, but I’m graaaaadually moving out of that age range, and it kind of scares me O_O But I will defend YA no matter what. Haha! As long as you have those ones on your shelves you should be right πŸ˜›

  19. I find I see the judgemental thing happen a lot when it comes to music…it even happens in books. People feel superior because their music tastes are ‘superior’…like, what does that even mean?
    If I want to sing along to The Hamster Dance while I’m driving to Dymocks, then I will.
    If I want to dance to Vegetales while on the train, I will.
    I let nobody judge me for my music tastes.
    I’ve also seen this happen with sport, believe it or not. My brother plays Quidditch with his university, and quite often goes to tournaments in other states, and there are people I know who give him a hard time about it because it’s “not a real spot” or “it’s a made up sport”…I mean, all sports were ‘made up’ at some point.
    Then again, this same person (it’s mainly the one) also goes on about how Netball isn’t a real sport.
    And now, onto books.
    I don’t get a lot of grief because of what I read, exactly. It’s more the fact that I read so much, and sometimes show up places high on feels, that make people think I’m a bit weird.
    Although, I have had someone lose respect for me because I said I enjoyed Twilight. His excuse for why it was bad? There were no deep intellectual whatevers in the book.
    To which I replied that I don’t limit my reading material to that which is ‘deep and meaningful’. He seemed to think I should.
    Please keep in mind that this was a person on my university’s Quidditch team who was judging me…

    Ok, wow, this is really long…I might stop there.

    • Yeah, it happens SO MUCH with music – I guess because music is more mainstream than reading??

      Seriously, I want to join a Quidditch team. Although yeah, I suppose I would initially be a bit self-conscious, because let’s face it, it does look pretty ridiculous. BUT RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME as well. I would totally be the Snitch.

      I don’t see why all reading has to be intellectual. That’s just rubbish.

  20. Woah. This is a super great post! I’m not a user of the ‘guilty pleasure’ phrase but I admit that sometimes I did feel ashamed before of books I enjoyed because some people disliked them so much but you know what? I learned that people have different tastes and maybe what’s amazing to you isn’t that amazing to them. Annd we just have to accept that and not join some kind of online brawl!

  21. I love you for this post. I absolutely whole-heartedly agree with this. Most of the music I like and the films I enjoy are what other people would call ‘guilty pleasures’ and I hate that. I listen to pop music because I like it and if someone asks me what I like I tell them. I’m not ashamed. In a job interview I once informed my interviewer the last CD i bought was Celine Dion. NO SHAME.

    I do have anxiety issues though so I have trouble going into the YA section of a book shop or a library because I worry I am going to be told off for being in there. I am definitely not ashamed to read YA and I would hold my books up in public and wave them around. Guilty pleasure is such a stupid term in my opinion.

    • Yeah, I said once that one of my favourite movies is Wreck-it Ralph and everyone looked at me funny. *whispers* I just really like Wreck it Ralph, okay?

      LOL. Celine Dion is great.

      Ohhh that’s such a shame 😦 I have that problem in my school library even, because I feel like the librarian will judge me for borrowing one of the really girly books. UGh. It frustrates me.

  22. I don’t think I have any guilty pleasures. Is that even normal?! It’s just that I’m proud of what books I read or songs I listen to (Do I sound cocky?). I’ve read FSOG and I’m not ashame to say that I liked it. I also listen to Pop songs (Heck, one of my favorite songs is Peacock by Katy Perry) because they are so catchy but I’m more of an indie songs type of girl. I just don’t give a fudge of what others think or will think of me haha! I think that if we love what we are doing & we are happy and we haven’t hurt anyone then what’s wrong with that, right? Great post, btw! πŸ˜€

  23. A THOUSAND TIMES YES TO THIS POST. I’m one of those people who likes Twilight, and it always irks me so much when people glare at me pointedly for reading it. If it’s not bothering you, why do you care?! So I decided a long time ago that if I enjoyed something, I’d enjoy it fully and without regret. Screw anyone who’s rude about it, yes?

  24. I’ve read the whole Fifty Shades trilogy and to be honest, I don’t even care if people judge me LOL! I feel like labeling things as a guilty pleasure suddenly makes it bad. And then other people feel bad for doing something that other people feel bad for. And then a whole cycle of regular guilty pleasures start and it really makes no sense! I’m all for doing whatever you want as long as you understand the consequences. Whats a YA book gonna do to you? Nothing bad. πŸ˜›

  25. This post is so on point. I don’t even have much to say, because you’ve said it all. πŸ™‚ I’ve never referred to things as “guilty pleasures.” Well, that’s a lie. I have once. It was the TV show adaptation of Gossip Girl. Before the TV show aried, I’d read all of the books, and while they weren’t my favourite books in the world, I enjoyed them. Then all of a sudden my friends start watching the show and become obsessed and beg me to watch it, but for some unknown reason to myself even, I was against it. I just didn’t think it would be good or enjoyable or whatever. And then, next thing I know, I watch the entire first season in a weekend and become hooked…I called it my “guilty pleasure” at first because I didn’t want to admit to my friends I’d watched it and loved it because I’d made such a big deal about not watching it…I don’t even know what was going through the brain of 14 year old me.

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