Or what the rest of the world likes to call fiction.
Once upon a time when I was just a young English major at UCSB, I spent my free time reading literary classics or Pulitzer prize winners. I had no time for frivolous reading! I was a critic, an expert on true artistic literature. Romance, Sci-fi, thrillers, NY Times bestsellers were all far beneath my superior gaze. Why would I waste my time on frivolous reading when there were so many thought-provoking, intensely introspective books out there?
No, no, I was better than that…
Wow, was I dumb!
Seriously hand me a best-seller and give me a comfy chair and I’ll be in heaven for the next five and half hours. I do not give a flying you know what about the literary merit of a work any more! In fact, to be completely honest with you, my dear reader, I would prefer it if you gave me something utterly superficial and completely engrossing than giving me the last tome on the death of middle class America.
I have never been good at meditation or relaxing, unless I had something to focus on. For me, my true Zen moments happen when I am engrossed in something. Give me an hour to paint or to bake and you’ll find me relaxed at the end of it. Give me the latest urban/sci-fi romance novel and you’ll find me a completely different person by the end of it.
I literally lose myself in the novel, ceasing to track time or bodily needs while engrossed in something as shameful a college romance novel, like Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. The story was at turns utterly predictable and nonsensical, shamelessly/needlessly erotic, filled with tangents that made no sense to the overall plot. And yet I devoured it in less than one night, staying up way past my bed time to finish! I loved it for no reason other than it was enjoyable to read, purely entertaining.
I could feel the snobbish Erin sneering at me over a worn copy of Wuthering Heights, shaking her head as I gleefully enjoyed the descriptions of lovers quarrels and reunions so over-dramatic and syrupy sweet as to make my teeth ache.
And I don’t draw the line at romance novels. Oh no! Come to my house and you’ll see! What was once a discerning collection of classics and noteworthy novels has completely devolved into a motley collection of paranormal, sci-fi, graphic novels, large mystery collections, interspersed with more high-brow literature I still feel compelled to purchase (which always end up on the bottom of my to read list. For example, I put down The Happiness Project for the aforementioned romance novel. Shameful but true.).
With every thing going on in my life, I need a way to relax. To truly relax I have to escape my head and the only way I’ve discovered of doing that is my wonderful, cheesy, fantastical, mysterious, dirty escapist literature.
Here is a partial list of some of my favorite romantic-fantasy series, if you’d like more recommendations I’m only too happy to help:
The Sookie Stackhouse Series (or True Blood series) by Charlaine Harris (new book coming out soon!!)
The House of Night Series by P.C. and Kristin Cast
Jane Yellowrock Series by Faith Hunter
The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison
Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs
And so so many more!