The kind of book I’m looking for is the One that’ll cause an involuntary upward movement of the corners of my mouth. The One that will force me to hold back a full-blown grin – mid-conversation, during a meeting or on some form of public transport. This book freezes my face in a grimace that makes me look deeply unsatisfied, maybe even a little constipated.
When I grow old(er) I hope the deepest and most visible lines on my face will be the ones which have already broken the skin just above the corner of my mouth.
Whether it’s a YA or a James Joyce novel, if it blows your hair back – it’s the right fuckin’ book. The question remains: what kind of a ruffle does the book create?
The ruffle which comes about every time you open said book.
Ruffle which continues even after you’ve closed the book.
I love all ruffles, but my favourite is the number two ruffle. I love when a book overtakes my life, when it makes me smile just because I’m currently reading it. The anticipation of reading has an effect of sun on Edward Cullen’s skin.
It’s hard to explain this temporary symbiosis between life and book. It is even harder to explain why it happens with some books, which are “objectively” not good, and not with masterpieces. The ruffle has nothing to do with plot, and it has everything to do with gut.
It’s the gut feeling that makes you act a little crazy. There’s no viable reason behind that insane grin you sport every time you think of that book. If someone asks you what in particular makes that book consume you, you cannot answer. It’s everything. It’s the general feel of the book. It’s just right for you. It’s beyond reason, which makes it so much better.
I often tried to capture this feeling, and I failed almost as often. I think the only review in which I managed to explain what I truly feel about a book is my review of The Song of Achilles. But it wasn’t such a big problem to do that because the book is amazing in every aspect. It’s harder to explain the reasons behind mildly obsessive behaviour in connection to Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series and Sylvia Day’s Renegade Angels. Sure, Jericho Barrons is an awesome character and his limited presence in the books is perfectly distributed. Yeah, female characters like Vashti make for a good book. But still, those reasons cannot really explain that gut feeling, the je ne sais pas quality of a good book ruffle.
I started with Good Will Hunting, so it is only appopriate to end with it to illustrate the general state of my mind when I’m having a book ruffle.
A large part of my life, be it Cheap Thrills, Guilty Pleasure or Personal Edification is all about books.
Books “that everyone read” serve this purpose beautifully. If one of those books turns out decent, so be it. If it turns out to be utter crap it gives you something other than “real things” to bitch about. Fifty Shades of Grey and City of Bones are Cheap Thrills. I read them and then I get all self-righteous, putting them, momentarily, at the center of my life issues. I admit it. I do overreact. You will not get to read this admission twice.
To me books are extremely important, and a Cheap Thrill book can occupy a significant portion of my life. Cheap Thrills are a great deterrent to the real world – if there is such a thing. I’m referring to “real problems” as defined by the majority, to those things most of us feels compelled to do in order to fit into a society which, in itself, isn’t very real. Earn money, pay taxes, bills, not kill people and what not.
Guilty Pleasures (elsewhere: pure and unadulterated escapism)
Guilty Pleasure books are those I wouldn’t be caught dead reading in public. I never could understand why publishers insist on putting hideous, half-naked men on the covers of these books. As a marketing tool those covers are counterproductive. I don’t know. Maybe those covers act as an incentive to someone in the marketing department, but reading Hunger So Wild (good book) or To Tame a Highland Warrior is not something I would do. Call me conformist, obsessed with what strangers think about me – but I will not do that.
Now, what is the difference between To Tame a Highland Warrior and Fifty Shades of Grey? The difference is that upon mentioning the fact that I have read To Tame a Highland Warrior, I feel compelled to explain why I read it. I really really really want to tell you why I read not only one, but FOUR (lousy) books from the Highlander series. But I must persevere and be strong. Excuses are for pussies.
Now, aside from books there are of course TV shows, movies and other things that fall into these two categories. I wrote about shojo manga, one of my favourite ways to unwind. The reason why I put it under Guilty Pleasures and not Cheap Thrills is because enjoying something that is often trite and completely out of sync with my own world-view makes me feel guilty. However, being a part of a world with a limited number of things that can go wrong is something I cannot resist. I love the simplicity of it and if I manage to come to care about the characters, I revert back to a 10-year-old girl with only one interest – WILL THEY FINALLY GET TOGETHER? And there’s stupid grinning and giggling. I’m not talking about the characters in manga, I’m talking about the reversed 10-year old me.