Flight Fiction… The Secret Book Shame

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Image Courtesy PEXELS

I’m an unashamed book nerd. I’ve been a literature lover since I was a kid. As a youngster, spurred on by my book-loving grandmother, I devoured the childhood classics. After a busy day I still love to bury my nose in a book and escape. Reading makes long trips pass quickly, cold weekend mornings more cozy, and long summer holiday afternoons just more sensational. My taste in books is varied. I dip in and out of the Man Booker Prize list, random recommendations from friends (what an absolute treasure it is when someone shares a book that’s resonated with some part of them!), popular fiction, non-fiction and classics. I’ve never been too precious about what I read. An open mind has rewarded me with some gems over the years, but two recent book related conversations made me realise “Genre Shame” is a thing. Some people really care about what other people think about what they read. To them it’s a sign of status. I’m not talking about displaying a little defensiveness over the best-seller list beach read we (nearly) all indulge in. You know that summer holiday page-turner that doesn’t tax our work-weary minds? Apparently there are whole genres of books that I’d never thought of, and that wouldn’t survive contact in a book club.

Flight fiction
Outside of business class where autobiographies of self-made millionaires abound, there lurks a genre all its own – it’s like the beach-read but worse. In-flight fiction, or f‘light’ fiction as I like to call it, is super-easy to read. You’re tired, can’t string sentences together and want something you can dip in and out of, or that will help you survive jet-lag on either adrenaline or boredom. Because it’s dark, you tell yourself nobody will really see the book, and in a confined space you can fold the cover over. When friends talk about the author and dismiss the book as just shooting/sex/no plot/unsophisticated you just say hmm noncommittally because it kept you sane during your weakest in-flight moments involving tray-tables and seat-backs. This genre also includes the
sub-categories ‘Books I don’t mind losing over the Atlantic’, and the somewhat defensively clutched, ‘I deserve this trash because I’m usually so serious but I’m on holidays’.

School pick-up sensations
Friends with kids tell me this is one of the few times of day they can snatch a few minutes to themselves to read – and the popular pick? Self-made mum-preneurs and the returning-to-work read aside – it’s often a few pages of cheeky chick-lit, a roaring romance, something in the style of Fifty Shades. Basically anything you have to stuff in your handbag, side-console, glovebox, or between the pages of a newspaper before the kids see it. There’s only a few moments between parking and the kids getting into the car. The plot needs to move F.A.S.T. Do not let the other Mums see. Or the Dads. Look cool. Don’t steam up the car windows.

Hair-dresser horrors
No books – why did I even try. This is the low-fibre diet of guilty pleasures, glamour and gossip magazines. I’d like to pretend I read #girlboss literature on leadership and life enhancing skills while being made more beautiful – because #WonderWoman – but these are just not always compatible with a good head massage and a coffee. At best I’m catching up with the news on my phone. And while it might look like the stock report, it’s probably click-bait. At best it’s a book review.

Books we hide from visitors
So you have an embarrassing hobby or interest and are trying to impress someone? Are into erotic fiction and have your conservative folks visiting? Have some medical complaint you’re not keen to share? All of the above? “The Life-guide: Sensual Yodeling  for the Unexplained Rash Sufferer” is getting hidden in the cupboard then I guess.

Things I once bought on i-Tunes that I can’t erase from my library
You all know it. These are the books you were too embarrassed to walk into a shop and buy and they were only a few dollars. Often self-help or dead-sexy while you were in a rut, you bought this read to help you through some existential life crisis and now you can’t get it off your device. And don’t even talk about the ‘accident’ that is ‘Family Cloud Sharing’.

Things I’ll only read on my Kindle because nobody can see the cover
Cross between the i-Tunes purchase and a lot like Flight Fiction. And you can just fit so much on a Kindle while looking so serious.

 

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