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As we have no contributing diarist this week, we'll have an open forum instead. Those of you who have read a book that changed your life and would like to contribute a diary, please kosmail me. I have a template that makes it very easy to write a diary!  You need only write three paragraphs and the template tells you exactly what to put in each one. Just think--contribute a diary and you may find yourself on the "Rec" list!  

Our open forum topic this week is “Which book is your guilty pleasure?”  Follow me below the tangerine-colored barrette and we’ll get down to business.

We all read books that we won’t even admit to owning, much less reading.  After all, we’re supposed to be reading the classic, the avant-garde, or the literary forms of fiction.  Are we going to admit to reading what we really enjoy when no one’s looking?  Yes?  All right, I’ll step up to the plate: I read books by Silly Jilly.

Silly Jilly, whose actual name is Jilly Cooper, has written a delicious series of naughty, one might even say rather vulgar, books about the aptly named fictional English county of “Rutshire.”  Basically, rutting is what the inhabitants do most of the day—when they’re not riding horses, making television shows, or conducting orchestras. The most wicked of these characters is the blond, blue-eyed, devilishly handsome and irresistible Rupert Campbell-Black, an aristocratic Tory landowner who rides to hounds, works in TV, and gets into a lot of trouble.

These books about gorgeous, rich people are fascinating because they inhabit a world the rest of us don’t.  For one thing, there are characters that never eat:  they drink and smoke and stay up all night. Do they get boils?  Do they suffer from cirrhosis of the liver, lung cancer, bladder cancer, dehydration, and starvation?  Do their teeth fall out because of the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables?  No, they just get thinner and more beautiful.

Another fascinating aspect is the absolutely awful mother-daughter relationships. Either the daughters are sweet, long-suffering characters (like Taggie in Rivals), whose mothers neglect or exploit them or even actively dislike them, or the daughters are raging bitches (Natasha in The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Perdita in Polo, and Tabitha in Rivals) who sneer at their long-suffering mothers and hold them in contempt.

Out of this series of immensely long books, there are only three likable female characters—Kitty Rannaldini in The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Janna, the teacher in Wicked!, and the put-upon protagonist of Jump.

One thing that attracted my enraptured attention was that in two of the books, some characters have gone to the larder, found an entire dinner for eight standing there waiting to be served the next day—everything from appetizers to the main course to pudding—and eaten it ALL. In the circles in which I move, no one ever cooks an entire dinner and leaves it to stand around—in the larder or anywhere else—for a day. Mind-boggling.  I suppose serving an entire cold dinner would certainly leave the hostess time to dress up, make up, and be charming, but I simply can’t imagine its happening in real life.

In Polo, the protagonist, Perdita, receives the gift of a check for a hundred thousand pounds.  What does she spend it on?  Buying a house to live in?  No, she buys a horse that she loves but that has been sold away from her. In The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Lysander, the protagonist, benefits from a legacy left him by an aunt.  What does he spend the 20,000 pounds on—a house or flat for himself and his fiancée?  No, he buys a horse with it.  The fact that both these characters, possessed of no job or income, lacking assets of any kind, choose to spend such sums on horses boggles more than the mind—one’s entire body boggles at the thought.

I feel guilty reading about such trashy people, but it’s enthralling to see what on earth they’re going to do next. One activity that I must refrain from describing because dailykos is a respectable Web site is something that it would never occur to me in five millennia to, er, take part in. It is sadly true that the later volumes in the Rutshire chronicles have become less and less enjoyable because of the sheer vulgarity of the characters.  When Amber Lloyd-Foxe, one of the very few female jockeys in this particular fictional world, looks over a stag line of panting males at the local hotel and asks,  “Which one of you lot am I going to shag tonight?” it makes one’s stomach roil.  

There probably won’t be any more of these books because Ms. Cooper is “aging out,” as she herself might put it. I’ll have to find another guilty pleasure.

So what’s yours?  Come on, I told you mine—‘fess up!  There’s coffee in the corner to wet your whistle before you speak, and a pile of toasted crumpets, dripping melted butter and honey, in that warming dish over there. Eat, drink, and let’s be merry—we’re all ears!

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Comment Preferences

  •  I suppose mine is Joe Keenan (8+ / 0-)

    Yes, the man who wrote Frasier and produced  Desperate Housewives. Keenan has written a number of books about the "business" (as it's called out here): Blue Heaven (1988), Putting On the Ritz (1991), and My Lucky Star (2006). The main characters are the same in each book: Philip Cavanaugh, a struggling writer with minor talent, his writing partner Claire Selwyn, and Gilbert Selwyn, Cavanaugh's first boyfriend who still has a Svengali-like hold over him. Read-out-loud funny, they are, as you'd expect from the properties Keenan has been involved with.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:12:54 AM PST

  •  For Good 'Ol Fashioned American Smut (10+ / 0-)

    - including incest, suicide, abortion, legs getting ripped off, pregnancy via a married man, & other goodies - nothing...NOTHING beats Grace Metalious' Peyton Place. Love it...LOVE IT! :D Yes, I own it AND the "sequel."

    "HERPES was more popular than Dick Cheney when he left office!" Rachel Maddow 5/23/12

    by CityLightsLover on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:13:00 AM PST

    •  OMG! I read those too (7+ / 0-)

      Yeah, she really laid it on with a trowel, didn't she?  Wonder if it's true she locked her kids out of the apartment so she could be free to write.

       I had a friend who tiresomely told me THREE times, over a period of several years, that one time Metalious was discovered sitting before her typewriter, staring into space.  When asked what she was doing she replied, "I'm getting to know my characters."

      Her name lives on in our family life before holiday meals, when we all say grace.  Mother always said, "Grace Moore." My sister said, "Grace Metalious."  I used to say "Grace de Valhubert," the name of the heroine in Nancy Mitford's The Blessing. Someone else used to say "Grace Darling"--she who rescued some sailors from drowning, I believe.  I can't think of any more Graces offhand, unless you count Gracie Allen.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:30:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (9+ / 0-)

    Pat Frank died before his writing career could really take off but Alas, Babylon has been his enduring success and has stayed in print nearly half a century.

    What makes it a guilty pleasure is that while the story is compelling and the main characters engaging, it really isn't terribly well-written. And Frank's treatment of race and gender wasn't particularly enlightened even for the early 60s when the book was written and is positively cringe-worthy now. And yet I've worn out multiple copies.

    Another guilty pleasure is the Led Zeppelin biography Hammer of the Gods. Sex, drugs, and rock & roll, not to mention groupies and sharks. What more, really, could you ask for in a good sleazy read?

    Two things are universal--hydrogen and stupidity. --Frank Zappa

    by AustinCynic on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:36:17 AM PST

  •  I guess mine would be Wodehouse (11+ / 0-)

    and all his lighthearted novels and stories about the British upperclass and their srrvants. For some reason---I'm not at all like that--- I find them really amusing.
    But I also like a lot of these PBS British shows (sooooooo superior to the Ameddicans) especially My Family  which is the sooooo superior British version of Married With Children

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:36:44 AM PST

    •  Adore Wodehouse and just checked out one of (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      exlrrp, Aunt Pat, koosah, Brecht

      his from the libe--title is Sam the Sudden or Suddenly Sam, can't remember offhand.

      Wodehouse was absolutely amazing.  I despise a lot of his characters for not earning a living (I'm so American), but he also wrote about people who did have to work.  

      One might think he's dated and in some ways he is, but I swear I still enjoy reading him.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:12:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Had a really great turn of phrase (6+ / 0-)

        Its really all about the dialogue. the plots were good but he got pretty formulaic towards the end.
        i have the whole PBS Jeeves and Bertie series tho I have to say they REALLY jumped the shark when they put Jeeves and Bertie into drag in the 3d season. Never would have gotten Jeeves into drag, he would have issued a stern but firm nolle prosequi Doubtful Bertie would have either

        Another Brit I really love, also very un PC: George Macdonald Fraser and his Flashman series. Really shouldn't like that character (Victorian classist, racist) but he is sooooo funny.I have all those too.

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:22:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I love Wodehouse and Fraser also. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Flashman is the villian in Tom Brown's School Days, a Victorian boy's morality book. He is a liar, braggart, bully, lecher, coward, etc., all  the things that good little Tom Brown is not.

          Frazer's genius was in giving this creep a joy for life and then putting him into situations (like the Charge of the Light Brigade) where Tom Brown's unquestioning obedience to upper class mores would have been disasterous.

  •  Geeze, Diana, you we have to own up? (6+ / 0-)

    Okay, I guess airing our guilty laundry behind masks of pixels and binary code is safe enough: Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain.

    The latter three, if you read them today, are deliciously non-pc: misogynistic, racist, ever aware of class, and proud that characters like Marlowe and Spade are "real men." But do I love to sit back and sip at The Big Sleep, The Long Goodby, Farewell, My Love, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Maltese Falcon .... I can't resist.

    I realise some of these books are probably taught in college, but I figure that's because the professors also get a guilty pleasure from reading them. "Crucial in the development of the crime fiction genre ...." "Paved the way for works such as In Cold Blood ...." Still, not having to dissect them, I can enjoy them for what they are: distilled pulp fiction in a brandy snifter.

    Leonard is more up-to-date but doesn't shy away from street language, characters sketched in outline, or horrific (albeit often funny) situations; and he has a wonderful sense of tone and a gift for plot development. Just finished Tishomingo Blues, Rylan and Out of Sight and remember fondly The Big Bounce and a host of others. He has a way of hooking you from the first lines and keeping you there way past bedtime to learn what happens.

        They were watching Ryan beat up the Mexican crew leader on 16mm Commercial Ektachrome. Three of them in the basement room of the Holden County courthouse: the assistant county prosecutor, who had brought the film; a uniformed officer from the sheriff’s department operating the projector; and Mr. Walter Majestyk, the justice of the peace for Geneva Beach.

         Right now they were watching Ryan holding the softball bat, bringing it up to his shoulder and not taking his eyes from Luis Camacho, who was beyond him on the screen, crouched and edging to the side but gradually, it seemed, closing in on Ryan.

    --Opening of The Big Bounce

    Thanks again, Diana in NoVa for a stimulating start of the day.

    •  Really enjoyed your comment, P Carey (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, tardis10, Brecht

      Yes...those books are misogynistic, but enjoyable in small doses.  I can't believe there was a time when I simply accepted the misogyny in what I read!  That was a long, long time ago.

      Classic comment of the day:

      Still, not having to dissect them, I can enjoy them for what they are: distilled pulp fiction in a brandy snifter.
      Thanks for stopping by. :)

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:19:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When I was a young adult reader I went (7+ / 0-)

    through the snobby phase a lot of young adults go through, when they only watch "Films," not movies and they only read "Serious Literature," not mere books.  

    What I never told my fellow young adult snobs was that at home, when no one was watching, I read all the Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs that I could surreptitiously get my hands on.  

    As far as my friends knew, I was reading Steinbeck and Shakespeare's sonnets.

    Heh.  Their first clue was when we all went to see the new Tarzan movie, "Greystoke" with Christopher Lambert and I objected strenuously to the mistakes in the storyline.        

    Metaphors be with you.

    by koosah on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:14:18 AM PST

    •  Love this, koosah! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      swampyankee, koosah, Brecht
      When I was a young adult reader I went through the snobby phase a lot of young adults go through, when they only watch "Films," not movies and they only read "Serious Literature," not mere books.  
      Tarzan is the greatest, isn't he?  And yes, isn't it annoying when Hollywood gets it wrong, as they so frequently do?

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:21:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Heh. It only took about ten years to grow out of (4+ / 0-)

        that phase.  I finally decided that being a snob wasn't nearly as much fun as being a cultural glutton.  I was missing a lot of fun opportunities by sticking to my museums and foreign films.  

        The older I get, the easier it is to unapologetically embrace my inner child and indulge in all kinds of "guilty" pleasures.  I watch cartoons, read children's books, and delight in occasionally opening that box of Honey Smacks cereal.  ;^)

        Metaphors be with you.

        by koosah on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:37:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Koosah, I read children's books too (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koosah, P Carey, Cassandra Waites

          Some of them are bloody well written.  Give me a good story and I'm happy.

          Another reason I read children's books is that when I'm researching Roman military history, children's books get right to the point:  not too much text and LOTS of pictures!  One day at the library as I was walking out with an armload of children's books on this subject, I bumped into a sheepish-looking woman evidently bent on the same errand--she was carrying an armload of children's books too.

          Being lazy is a lot of fun. :)

          "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

          by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:41:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I don't have any "guilty pleasures". (10+ / 0-)

    My tastes in trash are completely unrepentant.  

    My favorites are the ones where the plots basically run on bad jokes and lousy puns.

    Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures (being continued, I believe, by Jodi Lynn Nye) and Harry Turtledove's The Case of the Toxic Spelldump, for instance.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:18:19 AM PST

    •  These are new to me, loggersbrat, but they (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, koosah

      sound funny!  And good for you for being unrepentant.  One of my dearest friends refuses to repent for reading People magazine.  To each his or her own, I say.

      I simply love bad puns, and the aforementioned Silly Jilly is the absolute pastmistress of this particular literary form.  Whatever else she is, Ms. Cooper is extremely well read, or she wouldn't be able to think them up.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:36:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Took the words right out of my mouth, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Diana in NoVa, swampyankee, Brecht

      er, fingers.  I was not going to comment because I don't feel any guilt at all when I read "non-literary" books.  I do not like smutty but I love murder and mayhem.  Ok, maybe I am a little bit ashamed of enjoying the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon because the are "romantic."  

  •  Orange Crush by Tim Dorsey (6+ / 0-)

    Laugh out loud funny, and politically correct (except the empathetic serial killer Serge Storms, who is a mainstay of all his novels).

    I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

    by jhecht on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:21:13 AM PST

  •  I used to love the "wild Card" SF series (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    P Carey, Diana in NoVa, Brecht

    I'm a science fiction fan, though the crappy stuff outnumbers the quality lit, as with everything I guess.

    I can't say it "changed my life" but I got hooked on the lengthy Wild Card series, in which each book was written by a different author, although taking place in the same alternate world.

    The premise was that aliens had loosed a virus on the earth in the 1940s. Of those who contracted and survived the virus, 90% became"Jokers" - their bodies morphed into something bizarre, and this was related to their psychological state, each one unique.

    The other 10% became "Aces"- they morphed also, but in a way that gave them super-powers. Super-strength, fireproof, etc. Some Aces were celebrities revered by a fascinated media and some were used in covert government operations. One had an ability to make anyone he met feel a powerful affinity and want to agree with him. He was recruited as a diplomat with many successful missions, though afterwards those he had met with were puzzled about it...

    The thousands of Jokers were discriminated against, shunned, often despised by "Nats" (naturals) and had their own ghetto in NYC, "Jokertown". Each had a pseudonym to reflect their new appearance.

    For instance, one had translucent skin, one had an elephantlike trunk, one had a second smaller head, one dripped slime all over, one had tentacles, one was three people fused into an ever-changing lump (they used to be a menage a trois), etc.

    Inventive plots related to the social, political, and personal issues of the Nats, Jokers, and Aces were endless. Eventually some of the plotlines became too over-the-top and violent to hold my interest...

    •  Goodness, that really sounds different, dinazina! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Never heard of the series.  At first I thought you were going to say the series was written by Orson Scott Card, but after reading your description I realize that was a mistaken assumption.

      Well, those stories are certainly attention-getting.  :)  Thanks for commenting!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 07:37:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tom Sharpe is an author I got to know in Australia (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, dinazina, P Carey, Brecht

    His books are hard to find in the US but popular in the rest of the English speaking world.

    People are murdered left and right and usually the perpetrators go unpunished. Sexual relationships are twisted beyond belief. His main theme is that the monstrous sinners who end up winning in the end are better than the establishment types who crush everyone.

    Think Douglas Adams on a bad acid trip.

  •  Agatha Christie - dated, class-ridden, and un-pc. (5+ / 0-)

    She recycled her basic four plots, ten characters and three locations.  She was a terrible snob.

    But give me a cup of tea, a few biscuits and one of Dame Agatha's whodunits, and I am content.  Fun to read and no need to engage the brain.

    I enjoyed her autobiography (she wasn't totally honest there!) and her book about life on an archaeological site, Come Tell Me How You Live.  And I am a fan of The Mousetrap. Supposedly she is still a huge best seller, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.  I find that hard to believe but I do keep seeing new additions of her books.  A world-wide guilty pleasure?

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:16:22 AM PST

    •  Yes, Most Awesome, I believe she IS a worldwide (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      guilty pleasure! I've read them all, although the ones she wrote when she was 80 weren't as enjoyable.  

      Heh, heh.  I'll go even further and admit I like M.C. Beaton.  I love Hamish MacBeth and somewhat like Agatha Raisin.

      But yes, an Agatha Christie, a cup of PG Tips tea, and some Jammy Dodgers and Bourbon Creams, and one is all set for the afternoon!  :)

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:42:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I too love Hamish MacBeth! Total escapism. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Diana in NoVa, Brecht

        But I prefer Jaffa cakes.  ;)

        "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

        by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:48:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I kind of outgrew her (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Diana in NoVa, quarkstomper, Brecht

          I do have a full set, most of them in pretty bad shape after my cats (now dead of very old age) in their youth pulled them out of the bookcase ...

          However I still read Dorothy Sayers, especially the ones with Harriet Vane. She seems to have a good effect on Peter Wimsey, who got a lot less irritating after meeting Harriet. And I love Lillian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who... series. Lots of cats and food, two of my favorite subjects. There is a joke that after writing The Cat Who stories for over 20 years she should title them The Cat Who Lived Forever.

          And cookbooks, always fun to read.

          •  The Nine Tailors is my all-time favorite mystery. (0+ / 0-)

            It is tightly plotted and Lord Peter is almost human.  Besides, I think I am in love with Bunter.  

            Haven't read The Cat Who.... series.  But I am casting around for another author to read 'for fun,' so I may give them a try.  Cats and food - what's not to like?

            "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

            by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:17:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I've read most of the Shopaholic books... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, sillia, Brecht

    I guess that is the sort of thing that is the most un-DK I read, although I think they're funny. I just wouldn't want to meet Keith or Rachel while I carried one.

    "I'm takes a lot to get over my top." --Alan Grayson

    by chicating on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:51:51 AM PST

  •  Pleasures Not So Guilty - Donald E. Westlake (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, quarkstomper, Brecht

    Donald E. Westlake.

    A commercial writer who wrote a lot, but mainly books about two series characters: John Dortmunder (heist humor) and Parker (hard-boiled crime). Opposites, in other words, and he published the Parker books under the pen name Richard Stark.

    Parker is a thief, and an especially cold and heartless and silent one. Very focused. The pen name Stark says it all. He kills if necessary but tries to avoid it. Not on moral grounds but because it complicates things. The point is to get the money and not much else matters. He's not cruel or mean, but he is uncaring to the extreme.

    If I had to look at it through political eyes – and I don't, on purpose – I would have to say that Parker was a personification of Libertarianism. A very bad person, but fascinating to read about. It must have been a struggle to write the books sometimes because Parker simply does not behave normally, but he does behave consistently. I shouldn't like the series, but I do, and I re-read the entire set from time to time.

    The Dortmunder books are crime comedies, and this is the way Westlake thought of himself, as a humor author. The Parker books were done on a strictly commercial basis, but the Dortmunder books were obviously closer to his heart. They vary in quality from good to excellent entertainment. Oddly, the longer ones are almost always better than the shorter ones.

    Westlake also wrote a bunch of non-series crime based books, some comedy crime and some with no comedy and not a lot of crime. In these the copyright date is helpful. He got a lot better over time, and his later books are gems. The earlier ones, less so.

    Escapism? He wrote about fifty books and that keeps me busy during my breaks from reading non-fiction.

    A Southerner in Yankeeland

  •  The other day (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, Brecht

    at a library booksale, I found an anthology of stories that were published in Alfred Hitchcock Presents over the past 50 years.

    In addition to the Bible,stories in Alfred Hitchcock Presents are the first books that I ever read.

    I credit my sometimes dark, murky imagination to reading those stories and when I run across them, they are still a joy to read.

  •  Guilty pleasure (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, Brecht

    would probably be The Chronicles of Narnia.

    So sexist.  So racist.  Such well-crafted stories.

    -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

    by dirkster42 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:37:45 AM PST

    •  LOL, I just read one yesterday! (0+ / 0-)

      I was visiting a friend and while our two little ones shrieked at each other and said friend was cooking lunch, I looked at an excerpt from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  You nailed it!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:44:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A different type of guilty pleasure (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Esjaydee, Diana in NoVa, Brecht

    than what we're discussing above--I enjoy reading books about diseases, plague, pandemic flu, yellow fever, Black Death, malaria. It just curls my toes with delight. If I find a new one, I save it for later when I need cheering up.

    My husband (who is a scientist) is horrified that I read and enjoy these books. I tell him he just doesn't see the broad picture. One conversation we had:
    Me: Wow, did you know that yellow fever killed x thousand people in xxxx year?
    Hubby: [long pause] You're rooting for the microbes, aren't you?
    Me: Well, no....but it is pretty cool.

    I love it that Obama's channeling Harry Truman: "I don't give 'em hell; I just tell the truth and they think it's hell!"

    by sillia on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:48:41 AM PST

    •  Interesting, Sillia (0+ / 0-)

      I'll bet you've read Rats, Lice, and History.

      Bet dinner with you would be fascinating--LOL!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 10:14:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, read it a long time ago (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Diana in NoVa

        but I should re-read! Thanks for the reminder! :-)

        Yes, some of my conversations are a bit ick-inducing, but I can wait until you've finished chewing if you prefer.

        My husband likes to read murder mysteries (and watch crime type videos) which I HATE. I tell him, how can you read about those horrible murders??? His answer: "In most of the books I read, only one person dies. In your books, thousands die on the first page." Hmph. I think he should take a more scientific view.

        I love it that Obama's channeling Harry Truman: "I don't give 'em hell; I just tell the truth and they think it's hell!"

        by sillia on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:02:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Have you read Connie Willis' Doomsday Book? (0+ / 0-)

      Time travel back into the time of the plague. Outstanding.

      •  oh, wow, that sounds great! (0+ / 0-)

        Like it was custom-written just for me! Downloaded, thanks!!

        Interesting note--I saw a documentary once about Black Death survivors in England. There were some people whom it did not affect or who recovered after a short illness. The descendants of those survivors have exactly the same DNA mutation as do current-day patients who are able to fight off the HIV virus without getting ill with AIDS. I thought that was really intriguing.

        I love it that Obama's channeling Harry Truman: "I don't give 'em hell; I just tell the truth and they think it's hell!"

        by sillia on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:40:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My guilty pleasure author: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, Brecht

    Donald E. Westlake, and his occasional psuedonym, Richard Stark.
    Love his comic Dortmunder series, a criminal genius who has to face down Murphy's Law at every turn.
    Under the Stark name, he has his Parker series, another exceptional criminal, but with a darker, amoral tone as he faces his best laid plans crumbling under the same Murphian Legal weight. I like what Luc Sante had to say about Parker:

    "In Parker's world there is no good or evil, but simply different styles of crime. There is no law, so Parker cannot be caught, but merely injured or delayed. The subversive implication is not that crime pays, but that all business is crime."

    There are other books in Westlake's canon, some with humor in the Dortmunder style, while many earlier efforts were fairly straightforward noir (such as 361, named for Roget's enumeration in the Thesaurus for the word "killing"). Great fun, either way.

    A winning campaign? You didn't build that...

    by SilentBrook on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:54:28 AM PST

  •  The Darkover series, Marion Zimmer Bradley (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, Brecht

    I'm a big science fiction fan, love how What If can be used to stimulate ideas about human nature unrestrained by our mundane predictable world. But sci-fi, like everything else, is mostly trash in one way or another, and the use of magic as a plot device is one of the more egregious. However, this series ties the magic (crystals and mind power) to a world where such things are logically reasonable (lack of metals hence technology) and a well developed socioeconomic structure with a history of family lines having certain mental talents. Some of the books are better than others, and the most recent ones are shallow, so I'm not reading them, but the older good ones are worth even rereading: like The Heritage of Hastur, Sharra's Exile, Hawkmistress, Thendara House. It's a fun world to ramble in, and I really like having lots of books in the series.

    •  Sounds quite interesting--I like MZB quite a lot (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Haven't read Darkover, but it sounds worthwhile.  I don't read fantasy much but have no objection to it occasionally.  We all need a varied reading diet.  :)

      Thanks for diving in, OceanDiver!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:10:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  another guilty pleasure (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, Brecht

    Stephen King.

    But at least he supports marriage equality. Even if his female characters are passive to nonexistent and people of color either nonexistent or symbolic (Mother Abigail, John Coffey). But just the read for a dark and stormy night home alone.

    •  A dark and stormy night? (0+ / 0-)

      Eek, I'd have nightmares!  I've only read two of his, Carrie and something about a disease that decimated most of the pop. and several survivors went on a long, long journey to Las Vegas.  I have to be careful about reading or seeing horror books and movies because they make me walk in my sleep or have nightmares.

      But if it works for you, that's great!  :)

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:19:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yesterday, I would have said Stephen King, but.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Diana in NoVa

      then I was looking through the literary criticism section of this library, and I came across a book of critical essays on Stephen King. This series is edited and curated by Harold Bloom, who's pretty much the Dean of Criticism these days.

      I'm very upset, I tell you. I've been telling all my friends "There IS good lowbrow. You have to try Stephen King." Those professors have no right to steal my guilty pleasure!

      The irony is much thicker than that.

      When Stephen King received a lifetime-achievement award from the National Book Awards in 2003, literary critic Harold Bloom threw a fit. "He is a man who writes what used to be called penny dreadfuls," Bloom ranted. "That they could believe that there is any literary value or any aesthetic accomplishment or signs of an inventive human intelligence is simply a testament to their own idiocy."
      Two things are clear,  tecolata. You and I don't need to feel guilty. But Harold Bloom does.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:20:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The God Delusion... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    by Richard Dawkins.

    Guilty pleasure? Yup, because just picking up the book in the bookstore made me feel guilty. For years I had begun to question the existence of god and it brought on a lot guilt.
    When I talked about my doubts with a Xtian friend, she used the old Pascal's wager argument that believing in god would save me in the long run. I didn't like that proposition so I looked for answers to that and found Richard Dawkin's answer to Pascal and many other of his essays.
    So- I bought his book.

    Changed my life.

    FORWARD! Obama/Biden 2012

    by Esjaydee on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 10:11:20 AM PST

    •  Thank you, Esjaydee, I like this comment very much (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I should get that book and read it. I think my late mother, an almost lifelong atheist read it and liked it.  

      Thanks for stopping by!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:11:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  David Copperfield (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    I need a break from Plutarch and Catullus.

  •  Heh, heh, archer070 (0+ / 0-)

    No need to feel guilty about reading an English classic!  :)

    Plutarch--h'mm.  Ought to read that myself.  And Catullus--oh, I'm too old for sexy poetry, but it's probably a delight to read. ;)

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:17:25 PM PST

  •  Only a little guilty... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    The Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. Pay no attention to the movie.

    The Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher. Gore. Magic. Romance. All for not much money a day plus expenses.

    Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David. Tremendously funny run-up of fantasy novels, severely trashy in parts(like the One Cock Ring). Has two sequels, also funny.

    The Gap Series by Stephen R Donaldson. Very, very dark sci-fi, plenty of misogyny, brutality and general fucked-up-ness. Also a good read. Probably the last decent thing the guy's written actually.

    "I chose to change facts, reality, and the meaning of words, in order to make a much larger point." - Paul Ryan John Oliver

    by SC Lib on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:33:11 PM PST

  •  Two SciFi Series (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    that I realised were rubbish even as I read them.

    Firstly the Lensman Series by E.E. (Doc) Smith, read in my teens.  Space Opera (In fact almost the initiator of the genre, given when it was written) with terrible characterisation and laughably bad dialogue.  An ever-escalating plot level leading to serious "what can we do now" issues late in the series.  The basic plot was actually not bad, quite similar to the (excellent, IMHO :-) ) Babylon 5 TV Series.

    Secondly the Gor cycle by John Norman.  No redeeming features whatsoever.

  •  guilt(y) pleasure: military manuals e.g. FM 3-24 (0+ / 0-)

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 04:14:14 PM PST

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