As a reader as well as a writer I have different moods. Sometimes I’m up for a weighty, thought-provoking read, and at other times I prefer something to simply sweep me away. Lately life’s stresses and sorrows—my father died five weeks ago—made me want to escape with a good book into a world where a happy ending is guaranteed. I ended up reading several of Lucy Diamond’s chick lit books, which are not froth-only as they deal with some weighty issues, but do so with a light hand and a happy ending, and they were definitely the balm I needed.
There sometimes is an attitude in our culture that reading to escape is wrong, a ‘guilty pleasure’ it is often called. I’ve met countless woman who dismiss their reading choices as light or unimpressive with a shrug of their shoulders and a downward gaze, as if they’re ashamed they’re not reading War and Peace or the latest nonfiction bestseller every other day. I’ve even found myself doing it—when asked what I’m reading, I’ll pick the weightiest book I’ve read recently rather than the bit of frothy fun I’ve just devoured. And even worse, I sometimes do it as a writer, especially with some of the academic-types I meet living close to Oxford and its prestigious university.
‘What kind of books do you write?’ someone will ask me, and I will shrug my shoulders and dismiss my career as ‘the kind of book you find in the supermarket’—as if that makes it a lesser thing.
One of my (many!) New Year’s resolutions is to stop this bad habit of semi-apologizing for my reading and writing choices. Reading to escape, and writing to offer that escape, is not only acceptable, it’s necessary. 2015 was one of the most difficult years of my life and if I hadn’t had the reprieve from reality offered through various novels—Harlequin Presents, chick lit, and other ‘light’ books—I think I might have exploded with stress. I’m grateful to the writers who give me books that take me away from my current worries and leave me with a smile on my face.
And if you’re looking for a new escapist read, you can try one of my releases: The Emigrants Trilogy is the kind of historical saga that hopefully sweeps you away, and my March release, Falling Hard, kicks off a series set in small town Upstate New York.
Also if you a book you’ve read recently that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about it!