Guilty Pleasures of the Non-Edible Sort: Books, TV and Becoming a Writer


I am NOT going to discuss the many guilty pleasures we enjoy in the food world (fyi, crispy tortilla chips and home-made guacamole tops my list. )

No, I want to talk about a bit about those guilty pleasures we have of the non-edible variety.

Guilty pleasures that we devour by reading or viewing. Those little pleasures that we try to keep secret from our friends (and spouses) for fear they will think less of us. How can we be perceived as the thoughtful, literate and intelligent beings we know we are if we occasionally indulge in reality TV ( GUILTY)?

My mystified husband when he comes upon me watching DVR-recorded reality TV asks:

Why do you like to watch those dumb house buying/selling shows so much?”

I hit the “pause” button and/or change the channel but I don’t answer him.

They are such different fare than my usual diet of news/talk shows or British detectives on PBS. But I find real-estate-related reality TV fascinating. And many people (excluding my husband) do too, I’m sure.

For who doesn’t like to peer into a wealthy person’s over-the-top master bedroom? Or laugh at the frequent complaints of a prospective buyer that an L.A. swimming pool is just too small? Or wonder why so many Americans never understand why all European apartments don’t come with granite counter-tops and giant refrigerators?

Why does a “guilty pleasure” make us feel so guilty anyway?

My in-the-know daughter reassures me that these days it is acceptable to have cultural tastes that are both “high” and “low.” So I am in the norm (normcore?) by liking to watch TV at both levels.

But this high/low concept may not apply equally well to my tastes in books.

I am an avid (rabid, really) but picky reader. I have no problem putting a book down very quickly if it is not well-written. Its’ characters must be well-developed, the sense of place strong and the story arc clearly organized to hold my attention.

I’m a fan of the classics, love Jane Austen and Edith Wharton. And I pounce on any new books by contemporary female authors such as Julia Alvarez, Jhumpa Lahiri and Ann Patchett, beautiful writers all.

But I do steer away from the impenetrable books that sometimes top best seller lists and garner much reviewer praise. Sometimes I think book reviewers assume that the more difficult the book, the better.

When I read a book that is both well-written and enjoyable, I wonder – Has that become a guilty pleasure too?

Perhaps I am a tad over-sensitive because I have been trying to fashion a second career as a writer. I take classes, read books on the craft of writing and write every day. I continue to write non-fiction essays and articles about young adult mental health and parenting.

But what’s new this fall are my experiments with fiction. What we called “creative writing” in the old days. Writing a series of short-stories. Creating an outline for a possible novel.

The fabulously supportive women in my writer’s group cheer me on. Yesterday they told me I have “found my voice.” Which is great…

BUT. There is always a but. They describe my fiction writing voice as accessible and friendly. But not literary like my favorite authors. My descriptions are not lush, my prose is not lofty. Sigh.

I expect that when (“when” and not “if”) I publish my first short story or book, a reviewer will place me in the genre of “relatable” fiction –  as in “chick lit” for older women who are no longer chicks and perhaps never were chicks.

Yes, if I am lucky, my writing may fall into the category of being someone else’s guilty pleasure. Just like guacamole and chips or (at least some) reality TV. Ms. Faulkner I shall not be – but likely not Ms. Fluff either.

So please – feel free to indulge in whatever your own reading or viewing pleasures may be, and let’s lose the guilt, shall we?








While I ha developing a voice, relatable, not impenetrable. the more you don’t understand something doesn’t mean the better it is.



Filed under Baby Boomers, Book Club, Books, Communications, Female Friends, Reading, Retirement, Second Careers, Semi-Retired, Women, Writing, Young Adult Mental Health

5 responses to “Guilty Pleasures of the Non-Edible Sort: Books, TV and Becoming a Writer

  1. I share your admiration for the three authors you mentioned. I also share your guilty pleasure. I’m embarrassed to say that I can watch some TV! But that’s between us. 😊


  2. Miriam Daniel

    You should have told them we love mysteries!


  3. Katie

    I just don’t understand why I love the darn house hunting shows. My husband reacts much the same way as yours. I refuse to pause or change the channel. He never pauses the sci-fi. It won’t hurt him to see what $100,000 will get you in a quaint Italian village.

    I’m sure I don’t need to tell you to persevere. Some things require lots of practice.


  4. Nancy, I so relate here. I read so much and while some is “fun,” much of it is more serious. Yet, my own writing voice is much more informal–both my fiction and nonfiction. It is what it is! Whenever I have tried to force it, the prose reads false and I feel “false” too.


  5. Something for everyone! I need my characters or at least one per book to have something in them that I like so I will continue to read. While I appreciate prose and descriptive writing, I don’t care to read it often. I also think books should not be any longer than 400 pages. Preferably 350. That is my 2 cents that I realize you did not request.


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