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 all 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 cozy, and summer afternoons 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 most definitely a thing.
Some people really care 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 bestseller 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 which wouldn't survive contact in a book club.
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 fLIGHT 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 sagas. Sorry, Matthew Reilly -- I'm looking at you and your Ancient Wonders series.
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 during their day they can snatch a few minutes to read. What's the popular pick? The memoirs of self-made mumpreneurs.
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 of Grey'. 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, so the plot needs to move fast.
Do not let the other Mums see. Or the Dads. Look cool. Don't steam up the car windows.
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. 'Lean In' by Cheryl Sandberg, 'Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office' by Lois P Frankel... these are just not so 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 clickbait. Maybe a book review.
Books we hide from visitors.
So, you have an embarrassing hobby or interest and are trying to impress someone? You're into erotic fiction and have your conservative folks visiting? Have some medical complaint you're not keen to share?
All of the above?
'A Comprehensive Guide to Sensual Yodeling for the Unexplained Rash Sufferer' is getting hidden in the cupboard then, I guess.
Things I once bought on iTunes 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 raunchy reads you bought while in a rut, hoping they would help you through some existential crisis and now you can't get it off your device.
And don't even talk about the 'accident' that is iCloud's 'Family Sharing'. Think a step further than 'He's Just Not That Into You'. There's 'DIY Coffins', 'How Not to Lose a Person's Interest in Ten Seconds', and 'Anybody Can be Cool But Awesome Takes Practice'. I Googled these by the way.
Things I'll only read on my Kindle because nobody can see the cover.
A cross between the iTunes purchases and Flight Fiction. You can just fit so much on a Kindle while looking so serious and intellectual. I'm not telling you what's on here because it's my Kindle.
So, book lovers, embrace your secret shame, the key thing is you're expanding your mind through the magic of the written word. That's worth celebrating.
I think my book-loving grandmother would be proud I'm still reading, even if it's five paragraphs of fluffy fiction during an interstate flight. Besides, I'm not busting open the Mills & Boons just yet.