Embarrassing Books

I’ve been a fan of editor-turned-agent Betsy Lerner ever since I read her brilliant book The Forest for the Trees when it came out in 2001. If you’ve never read it, you should immediately. It’s one of the best books for writers, right up there with Stephen King’s On Writing. Get the book!

Anyway, that’s not what today’s post is about, but I had a reason for talking about Betsy here. I read her blog all the time and last week she had a great post asking what books people have read but are too embarrassed to admit to. What a great question!

So today, in honor of my fellow agent Betsy (who doesn’t know I’m a fellow agent and who’d be mortified to know she has a stalker in Colorado)…

Q4U: What book have you read recently that you might not read in public and are embarrassed to admit to, even now?

Mine is easy: The Lost Symbol. Also I love John Grisham, so occasionally you’ll catch me with one of his. Oh yeah, you might have seen me carrying around a couple of torrid bodice-ripper romances but they were research, I swear!
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Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

105 Comments

  1. tiffany marie on October 27, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    >I picked up a book by Dr. Henry Cloud called, "How to Get a Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating in Six Months or Your Money Back"

    I opened the book and started reading through the pages,then glanced around the book store to see if anyone saw me reading it. When I admitted to myself I wanted to buy it I carried it to the counter hiding the title against my chest. When the cashier saw the book she did a double take and I felt my face flush with embarassement.

    Now I'm actually doing a blog on the book and tracking my progress. I'm on month TWO! Four months to go before I either get my money back or have a date worth keeping! LOL! And it's such a good read!



  2. Anonymous on October 26, 2009 at 12:30 PM

    >Danielle

    I read every last single one of the Nacy Drew books except for the few my Grandma and the Library didn't have.

    I lived and breathed Nacy Drew.

    Now I'm turning sixteen and realize that no sixteen-year-old would do half the stuff she did in the first book πŸ™‚
    On second thought, maybe they would — if they had read Nacy Drew!!



  3. Rachel on October 25, 2009 at 9:39 PM

    >I'm with you, Liesl. I'm totally embarrassed to read "How To" books on writing in public and used to keep them up in my bedroom. But now I have so many that they are littered around my whole house. And I have two in my purse. And one in the back of my violin case. The jig is up.



  4. Liesl on October 25, 2009 at 8:23 PM

    >Any book on writing. I know it's cowardly, but I just can't read "Writing the Breakout Novel" on the bus without feeling like there's a lot of eye-rolling coming my way.



  5. Jessica on October 25, 2009 at 6:14 AM

    >So a lot of people here are embarrassed about vampire books… Is it because most of us are Christian writers? I wonder what kind of comments would be on a blog not frequented by a majority of Christian writers?
    Maybe more YA books read by grown men?
    All the guys' comments cracked me up. I don't think any of them were embarrassed by vampire books, but by girly books. LOL (I may've missed something though)
    This was a very fun post and enlightening! LOL



  6. R. K. Mortenson on October 24, 2009 at 11:07 PM

    >ABSOLUTE ABS AND FIRM BUTS (SIC) FOR WRITERS

    Just kidding.

    Not full-blown embarrassed but self-conscious in public reading TWILIGHT. But hey, I write YA fantasy.



  7. Kristine Pratt on October 24, 2009 at 6:09 PM

    >I am detecting a certain sort of theme here….

    But yes, I also am embarrassed by my vampire books starting with Twilight, the House of Night saga (there's another coming out!) and most recently the Jazz Parks series by Jennifer Rardin. Though the last is the least embarrassing of the lot. Maybe because they're written for adults?

    Woot for team Jacob!?



  8. Susanne Scheppmann on October 24, 2009 at 2:51 PM

    >All right I loved this blog post.
    My don't tell books, Janet Evanovich books, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo & The Girl Who Played with Fire. Lots of language, etc., but great books.



  9. Rachelle on October 24, 2009 at 2:05 PM

    >Ah, Aimee, I'm so glad you finally came around to admitting you could *possibly* be embarrassed about a book. You had me worried there, being the first commenter and missing the point (and the fun) of my question!

    I agree the "how to" books can be embarrassing in public. How about The Flat Belly Diet? That was one of my recent read-only-at-home choices.



  10. Aimee LS on October 24, 2009 at 1:32 PM

    >Rebecca, Rebecca, Rebecca… Team Jacob?! I will pray for you… πŸ™‚

    Tricia – You're so right! I hadn't thought about that… I have a how-to and don't take it out of the house without figuring out how to keep it hidden. It's a fear of people looking at me with that perfect mix of incredulous mirth: "You…are trying to…*snigger*…write a book… *cough*"



  11. Rebecca on The Homefront on October 24, 2009 at 11:10 AM

    >I am enjoying this thread so much!

    I have to admit that while I'm not embarrassed that I read the Twilight Saga, I have been a bit embarrassed to admit the level of my obsession with the series, the movies, etc. For those curious, I'm Team Jacob all the way. πŸ˜‰

    Wonderful thread, Rachelle!



  12. Tricia on October 24, 2009 at 10:19 AM

    >Oh, yeah. I do remember being slightly embarrassed to be caught reading On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner. I never like reading "How To" books in public and I'm still a bit evasive about having people approach me saying, "YOU want to be a writer. hahahaha." Not that I care too much, but I don't want to be bothered by skeptics if I can help it.

    Rachelle, are you by chance related to John Gardner?



  13. Tricia on October 24, 2009 at 9:54 AM

    >Sadly, there will come a day when the majority carry electronic books. I picture it so faceless, sterile and anti-social.

    You can bet I'll be happy to get a reaction from others as I carry books with actual covers that reveal my tastes–as far ranging as they are. I may even come out of the closet with Go Ask Alice. Such a rebel, I am.



  14. Rachelle on October 24, 2009 at 8:18 AM

    >Despite some people wondering how anyone could possibly be embarrassed about reading a book… this has really been one of the most fun comment threads! Thanks for everyone's contributions. And thanks Betsy for the idea.



  15. Aimee LS on October 24, 2009 at 3:34 AM

    >I'm surprised how many 'big names' make the list of embarrassing…

    I'd love to be as successful as one of those guys (give me Stephenie Meyer's 6 months from first word to book contract story any day!).

    Perhaps it's our reason for reading that dictates our embarrassment? I.e. if we feel we should be reading for culture or to broaden our minds, those floppy romances and vampire YA's must seem beneath us. And if we think only literary fiction is the true art, then Grisham must be a hack.

    I've given it a lot of thought and come up with this:

    I am sometimes embarrassed to read my Bible in public.

    That is the deepest kind of shame.



  16. Steve on October 24, 2009 at 2:16 AM

    >I'm not embarrassed by any books I might read, but maybe the most incongrous ones I have enjoyed, as a 62 year old male who usually reads sci-fi, is the "Poseur" YA series. This is especially odd as the theme of the series is fashion, which is a subject I have had a life-long contempt for.

    -Steve



  17. Rachel on October 23, 2009 at 10:58 PM

    >P.P.P.S. Of course, I read "Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife" like everyone else here. And hid it. hahahaha



  18. Sharon A. Lavy on October 23, 2009 at 10:48 PM

    >Speaking of Louis L'Amour. I'm sure I read all of his when my sons were teenagers. And a son-in-law named his first son Tyrel. His second son Tell and his daughter Emmi. (Daughter agreed of course)

    He likes the family closeness of the Sacketts.

    I'm not embarrassed to read those books though.



  19. Rachel on October 23, 2009 at 8:55 PM

    >Rachel Evans! hahahaha!

    Oh–I also have a book called "How to Write Funny" which seems so naked and desperate, that I have no choice but to hide it.

    This post was super fun.



  20. --Deb on October 23, 2009 at 8:32 PM

    >I read "Forest for the Trees" years ago and loved it. Now I feel like I need to take it off the shelf again.

    I love the idea of "upstairs" and "downstairs" books. I suppose that my upstairs books would be all the fantasy, sci-fi, and mysteries–not because I'm ashamed for reading them, but because I suppose they don't look quite as impressive as the other fiction, history, and other books…



  21. The Decreed on October 23, 2009 at 5:44 PM

    >I'm studying on a campus very "traditional" in the sense of high art. Because of classes I've sunk my brain into Updike, Faulkner, Conrad, Austen, Bronte… but the composite of my outside reading is a little… um… not traditional: Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr.



  22. Skeptic on October 23, 2009 at 5:01 PM

    >I've never been embarrassed about what I read. I have been accosted by fellow passengers on flights or in airports who took offense to my non-fiction tastes. I had a young man threaten to rip a book out of my hands and uh… feed it to me. That's the nice version. I gave him my best psych nurse stare and said, "go for it." He moved.

    This is another reason I like the Kindle. Nobody's business what I read, and in electronic format, nosiness/intrusiveness is kept to a minimum.



  23. Amy on October 23, 2009 at 4:50 PM

    >I've been reading romance novels, like the Black Dagger Brotherhood & Sookie Stackhouse novels. The sensual covers on some of these books makes me embarrassed to read them in public. (I loved the first Sookie covers–couldn't find them when i bought the first book)

    But if they weren't steamy, then people wouldn't buy them?



  24. Brandi G. on October 23, 2009 at 4:48 PM

    >I often feel "looked down on" for my taste in books, but, hey, I've spent so much time reading for knowledge these past years (English major, anyone?) that I just can't bring myself to pick up a "literary" book yet.

    I love trash. And YA. Yes, I own the Twilight books, the Harry Potter books (which I LOVE) and even Christopher Paolini's books. And I'm a HUGE fantasy buff, so right next to those are all the books Anne Bishop has ever written (which I'm never ashamed of) and Kristen Britain. Then romances. I always felt awkward reading those in public. (Why are you blushing, Brandi!) Drat a fair complexion.



  25. allyriabookauthor on October 23, 2009 at 4:43 PM

    >I have not only heard of Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, but I read the sequel. Get ready for this: It's "Mr. Darcy, Vampire." Delicious and toward the end I couldn't put it down, but I didn't read it in public. πŸ™‚



  26. Eric von Mizener on October 23, 2009 at 4:41 PM

    >I still read the occasional sci-fi / fantasy book. That's not bad if it's old sci-fi. But the last 30 years have been dominated by Star Wars / Star Trek / Lord of the Rings derivative drivel – and I still nibble!

    Now excuse me – I have to go see what's on SyFy.



  27. Jana on October 23, 2009 at 3:41 PM

    >My 17-year-old son and I are reading through his selections from "Harvard's Greatest Hundred Books"–He said Grapes of Wrath was his favorite book ever and devoured it in three days. I just finished War and Peace last night (he still has to catch up with me on that one)was a little embarrassed to carry it on the plane–mostly because it looked big enough to count as an extra carry-on.



  28. Katy McKenna on October 23, 2009 at 3:35 PM

    >Oh, WAIT! I thought of a book I actually had to toss in the trash, it embarrassed me so badly. "The Romance Writers Phrase Book." A writer friend of mine gave this to me when she moved and had to dump a bunch of books. It's OLD, written (if you can call it that…) in 1984. It's supposed to help a romance writer plug a phrase into a sentence that, well, needs one. MAN, did I learn a lot of *ahem* stuff from that book, and I was married with 3 kids by then! And if one of those early-readers of mine had gotten ahold of it, YIKES!



  29. Mira on October 23, 2009 at 3:35 PM

    >I read kids books. I read them all the time. I just re-read Winnie-the-pooh, and I'm moving onto Charlotte's Web.

    But I rarely read them in public. Too embarrassing. πŸ™‚

    Oddly enough, I do read a torrid romance every now and then, but I wouldn't be embarassed to read that in public.

    But kid's books – yes.



  30. Katy McKenna on October 23, 2009 at 3:30 PM

    >I don't think I've ever really been embarrassed by a book I've read, but I do scan my bookshelves before guests arrive. I've had more than one friend of a completely different political or religious persuasion call into question my choice of reading material IN MY OWN HOME. So, I do sometimes stow my copies of inflammatory books, including my first edition of "The Total Woman." πŸ™‚



  31. Rose McCauley on October 23, 2009 at 2:08 PM

    >I, too, can't think of anything I've read that I'd be ashamed to admit. But I am shamed to admit that I have NOT read The Forest for the Trees even tho I have had it sitting on my shelf for over 6 months. Now, after Rachelle's recommendation, it will go to the top of my writing TBR pile (not to be mistaken for my fiction TBR pile or my devotionals TBR pile.) I need one of those shirts–too many books, too little time!



  32. AM on October 23, 2009 at 1:11 PM

    >Twilight.

    If my friends had found me clutching that book in my cold, dead hands, they would’ve shunned my funeral, lest others think they’d known about my abhorrent proclivities.



  33. Liberty Speidel on October 23, 2009 at 1:09 PM

    >A non-Christian friend of mine got me hooked into a mystery/fantasy/romance series by an author I'm too embarrassed to admit to reading. I think the series ran 6 or 7 books. I'm kind of relieved they're over. I wouldn't even admit to my husband what they were!

    Another author I have no problem to admitting to is Nora Roberts as J.D. Robb. Really love her stuff and highly anticipate each new release. Oh, and Vince Flynn. πŸ™‚

    And, Rachelle, what's not to love about John Grisham?



  34. abouttothunder on October 23, 2009 at 1:09 PM

    >Among writers, I am embarassed to admit that I adore Twilight and The Host and all of the Sookie Stackhouse books. I can only dream of plotting that well. Last spring I read What I Did for Love. I do not typcially read romances, but that one was a lot of fun. I chalked it up to research.

    Among the people I encounter on a casual basis, I am a bit more embarassed about my literary reading. I am currently reading Noel Coward's plays and his autobiographies. I love them to bits, but the looks I get tell me that people think my choices are pretentious.

    I will be added The Forest for the Trees to my wishlist. Thanks for the recommendation.



  35. Anonymous on October 23, 2009 at 12:56 PM

    >The X Files novels. I recently re-read them, and realized they were not nearly as great as I remembered.



  36. Erika Robuck on October 23, 2009 at 12:53 PM

    >Twilight series. It makes me hate myself how much I love those books. And the movie. Which I've seen twice. And I've got the release date for New Moon on my calendar. In pen.

    There, it's all out there.

    Whew.



  37. Jean on October 23, 2009 at 12:45 PM

    >Okay. I admit here, in front of God and everybody, that I'm a fan of the Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun. I've enjoyed her earlier books; the recent ones have been a huge disappointment.



  38. harleymay on October 23, 2009 at 12:42 PM

    >I read through Richelle Meade's Vampire Academy books in a weekend while my husband was out of town. When I started them and read "drinking blood during sex was considered the kinkiest…" and though "Oh no….why am I reading this?" But I could not put them down.



  39. Tara Johnson on October 23, 2009 at 12:39 PM

    >Lauren Conrad's LA Candy. I love The Hills, reality TV and celebrity gossip… there, I admitted it! But I did hide the cover while reading it on the plane.



  40. Jessica on October 23, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    >When I was twelve I read some pretty mature stuff. Fiction centered around WWII and the Holocaust, stories about anorexia and also about psychological illnesses. I think one of my favorite books is still I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. I also liked A Clockwork Orange. My mom probably didn't even realize what kind of subject matter I was reading. It is a little scary to think about my kids reading those books someday when they're only in sixth grade. I hope if they do it'll be because they're interested by people and want to see different perspectives, not because they're actually feeling a (negative) connection with the characters.

    Too cute about your homemade book cover!!



  41. Ali on October 23, 2009 at 12:37 PM

    >Torrid romances I'm not afraid to admit to, lol… the one book I have is The Procrastinator's Handbook… it's taken me over two years to read chapter 1, lol



  42. Andrew on October 23, 2009 at 12:28 PM

    >Rachelle, on a serious note – it's good that you let your daughter read 'Rachel's Tears'. There ARE monsters out there, and our children need both knowledge and guidance – together – to cope without despair.

    Good on you, Rachelle.



  43. Andrew on October 23, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    >When I read 'My Dog Tulip' in high school, my English teacher (who was and is a friend) ridiculed me in front of the class.

    However, revenge is sweet – my Baddest Pit Bull is named Tulip.

    And he's a boy!



  44. Rebecca Knight on October 23, 2009 at 12:13 PM

    >Haha! This is why I'm tempted to get an e-reader ;).

    I just recently read Blue Moon, a werewolf romance novel. It was awesome.



  45. Angelia Almos on October 23, 2009 at 11:52 AM

    >I wasn't embarrassed, but I was very careful when I was reading The Year of Living Biblically. After, only two chapters in at one of my daughters activities I had a conservative christian (I'm guessing by her reaction) want to know if it was making fun of the Bible and why was I laughing while reading a book about the Bible. I carefully sidestepped the question and explained the premise of the book and that the author was just funny in his attempts to live by the rules of the Bible. After that I was careful to read the book with the cover either flat on a surface or my lap and to always place it with the front cover down (back cover showing) when I set it down in public places.

    I also don't tend to read romances with racy covers in public simply to avoid dealing with the shocked reactions of some of the more conservative moms I come in contact with daily.



  46. Rachel H. Evans on October 23, 2009 at 11:35 AM

    >I'm embarrassed…

    Because I should have read it sooner: "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner

    Because it's so trendy: "The Shack" by William P. Young

    Because folks around here would talk: "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne

    Because the title says it all: "Philosophy for Dummies"



  47. Donna Frank on October 23, 2009 at 11:30 AM

    >Great conversation here…love the honesty. I went through a season when I read everything I could find on spiritual warfare. That's not embarrassing to me, but I did find that an oddly titled book may buy you a little more elbow room at a crowded airport. Sometimes just carrying around 'How to Cast Out Demons' is fun πŸ™‚



  48. Karin on October 23, 2009 at 11:16 AM

    >I used to hide my Janet Evanovich books – they tend to offend some people that I know and they aren't difficult to read which make some people think I can't/don't/won't read and appreciate more challenging fiction.

    I don't care so much anymore πŸ™‚



  49. PatriciaW on October 23, 2009 at 10:59 AM

    >Some of the covers on certain Harlequin lines are a bit much, depending on where I am.

    More embarrassing is being seen reading a bad book–bad in terms of the writing–because I don't want my reading to be seen as an endorsement (but I have to read it to meet reviewer obligations).



  50. Debbie (Nerd Goddess) on October 23, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    >I only feel a little weird to be seen carrying a book about faeries (Silksinger by Laini Taylor) around a college campus, but since the word "Faerie" isn't even in the title anymore, I guess it's not too bad.

    I'm usually just not embarrassed about books I read, I guess.



  51. Arabella on October 23, 2009 at 10:48 AM

    >I will read just about anything. I guess I've been embarrassed by Sophie KInsella's really pink covers, but not really. If anybody asks, I just say it's comedy.



  52. Rachelle on October 23, 2009 at 10:36 AM

    >I really like Philippa Gregory and I didn't think the movie of her book (The Other Boleyn Girl) was anywhere near as good as her book. Someday if I have time I want to read The White Queen.

    Here's something else I've been embarrassed to admit: I was never a big Michael Jackson fan and I haven't watched a single minute of the endless TV coverage, documentaries, etc., that have been on TV in the last few months. BUT I'm excited that I'll be going to see the movie "This Is It" when it opens next Wednesday. Buying tickets today! No apologies. πŸ™‚



  53. school_of_tyrannus on October 23, 2009 at 10:29 AM

    >I'm embarrassed I ever read a Stephanie Plum novel. Boo.



  54. mary bailey on October 23, 2009 at 10:26 AM

    >I mostly stick to Christian fiction and have always hated s*xually graphic books. But a few years ago I read an embarrassing book b/c the editor of a Christian news magazine said that parents should read it to know what is going on in colleges today.

    The book was "I Am Charlotte Simmons" by Tom Wolfe. The book was really smutty and I hated it, but the thing was I didn't find the college life to be shocking—it was pretty much the same as it was when I was in college in the early '90's.

    Anyway, I was embarrassed to check it out at the library.



  55. JEM on October 23, 2009 at 10:23 AM

    >Um…definitely a fan of the bodice rippers…



  56. Maureen on October 23, 2009 at 10:12 AM

    >It has to be "Joy of Sex". . . but only because it was on the shelf in a friend's home.



  57. WendyCinNYC on October 23, 2009 at 10:11 AM

    >If I can admit to watching The Real Housewives of New York City without (much) shame, I can admit to anything.



  58. T. Anne on October 23, 2009 at 10:10 AM

    >OK but no public flogging please, I've read my fair share of Phillipa Gregory. I feel like I'm pretty in-the-know regarding all things Tudor and beyond. I'm on to Mary Queen of Scott's now, Honestly this woman's writing keeps you at attention.



  59. Marianne on October 23, 2009 at 10:06 AM

    >Thanks for the book recommendation; On Writing sits on my nightstand and is one I page through again and again and again. I'll have to get The Forest for the Trees when I swing through Half Price Books this month.

    Thanks for this blog, btw. I've been lurking for a while and it's so useful to read your perspectives as an agent.

    πŸ˜‰



  60. yarnbuck on October 23, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    >"I love John Grisham, so occasionally you'll catch me with one of his."

    Rachelle, Grisham is about as kick-butt as I get. I've read all but a couple. Do I need to be ducking and hiding, and didn't know it? (If it helps me fit in to today's conversation, I could mention that I might drink wine while I read.)



  61. Cassandra Frear on October 23, 2009 at 9:53 AM

    >This is embarrassing. Yes, it is.

    I was a Louis L'Amour junkie. I read every single book in the order in which they were written when I was in my teens.

    Why? I'm not a western fan. I rarely watch westerns. I just got caught up in the stories and L'Amour's descriptions of the landscape. My editor husband laughs every time he refers to the books. It's really odd that I did this — not like me at all. (At least, I think it isn't.) I knew they weren't great literature, that they were formulaic and full of cliches, perhaps even corny. But I liked them. anyway. I also have to confess a number of mornings when I had biscuits and bacon and strong coffee, just because — just because I had read about them the night before in one of his books.

    It gets worse. My mother loved the books, too, as did my brothers. One year they all went to a photo shoot where they dressed up in western costumes and had their pictures made. My mom started calling herself, "Ma Sackett." She did that until she died. I was privately mortified.

    But I still like the books. Heaven help me, I do.



  62. Heather on October 23, 2009 at 9:39 AM

    >I usually stay with Christian novels simply because reading is my relaxation time and I don't want to have to keep my guard up.
    However, the last secular book I read, "The Gypsy Morph" by Terry Brooks (yes, I'm an incurable fantasy reader and writer! No apologies there) didn't embarrass me as much as having people see that I was reading Ted Dekker's thriller "Kiss". Mostly because some people I know think "Christian thriller" is an oxymoron, plus the title of the Dekker book could've been taken as something it was NOT.



  63. Kristen Torres-Toro on October 23, 2009 at 9:31 AM

    >I loved the tv show "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" back in the day. I'm pretty sure I bought the novel based on the show (with pictures from the actual show, of course)!

    By the way, I'm definitely going to check out Betsy's book. Thanks!



  64. Eliza T on October 23, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    >I read a book recently by my favorite politician/statesman. I'm not embarrassed but I did keep the book in my purse when I wasn't reading it. I was around family members whose beliefs differ from mine and I just didn't want to get into with them.

    Elizabeth



  65. Dara on October 23, 2009 at 9:13 AM

    >I've never been embarrassed to read a book, but like many it's been the covers that make me feel a little odd. Although I have had people look at me oddly for reading my shoujo manga πŸ˜› Probably because it tends to be really girly, typical anime-style big eyed heroines on the front cover (and often the young girl is wearing an incredibly short mini-skirt o_O). But I like the stories so there πŸ˜›



  66. Sharon A. Lavy on October 23, 2009 at 9:12 AM

    >My daughter saw my library books by Agatha Christye and said they were satanic. So yes I usually read my mysteries in private.

    My husband makes sure none are sitting out when we know we have company coming.

    After reading this post I ordered three Iris Johanson books from amazon. I have been wanting to study her as I love her books.



  67. Lori Lundquist on October 23, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    >Twilight… for the FOURTH time… in less than a year. Yea, but that was for research too. πŸ™‚

    I like the term "bodice-ripper." It tells the whole story in two words. How awesome is that?



  68. Rachelle on October 23, 2009 at 8:57 AM

    >When I was in 7th grade (12 yrs old) I read Summer of '42. I was kind of embarrassed but I also knew my mom would never let me read it. So I put a little hand-made book cover on it that said Black Beauty. I'm sure my mom saw right through me but she never said anything!

    (Now my daughter is 12 and I'm not sure how I'd feel about that. However, her choices these days might be a little bit scarier for me. She's choosing to read books about topics like anorexia and cutting. She's also reading Rachel's Tears about one of the Columbine victims. Scary stuff.)



  69. Melanie Avila on October 23, 2009 at 8:55 AM

    >All the Twilight books, and possibly the Stephanie Plum books. But they're so fun!

    I love Betsy Lerner's book AND blog.



  70. Matt Mikalatos on October 23, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    >My 8 yr old daughter is reading too far above her grade level, meaning I have to screen her books sometimes… which means I'm often reading books called "Ever Soul a Star" or "The Unicorn Chronicles." Not exactly the sort of book I want tucked under my arm when I get on an airplane.



  71. Jessica on October 23, 2009 at 8:41 AM

    >btw, to me bodice-ripper is an amusing term. I think it's funny because that's exactly what the covers looked like, but non-romance readers don't realize that there's so much more to a romance than sex.



  72. Jessica on October 23, 2009 at 8:39 AM

    >For the most part I'm not embarrassed by the genres I read, but more about covers. Back in the day, when romances had super sexy covers, I'd try to hide the cover. I was also a teenager and didn't want my mom to see. *guilty grin*

    I force myself to admit that I love Linda Howard's books, even though it embarrasses me because she uses graphic language and sensuality. But I love her plots and characters. I still hope to read more of her backlist. I particularly like those ones, though my favorite book of hers is Cry No More. It's the book that hooked me. πŸ™‚



  73. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought on October 23, 2009 at 8:39 AM

    >P.S. (how much do I feel like a school girl writing that?) I wanted to let you know I ordered The Forest for the Trees and checked out Betsy’s blog. Excited to read both.

    As a fan of LOST, I had a good laugh at the comment James left above.
    ~ Wendy



  74. James on October 23, 2009 at 8:31 AM

    >I've never been embarrassed by reading any book. I know some will deride certain books for being junk, but I don't tend to worry much about that.

    Having said that, though, a few years back I decided to read and blog about every book that was shown on ABC's Lost (which is a great reading list, btw). Which means I had to read Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret. That's not an embarrassing book per se, but it's a bit odd for a 37 year old man to be walking around with it, even if Sawyer was reading it on the show.



  75. Lisa Karon Richardson on October 23, 2009 at 8:28 AM

    >My guilty pleasure read are Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books. They are ridiculous and formulaic and a little trashy, but so much stinking fun. I can't help it.



  76. Marla Taviano on October 23, 2009 at 8:25 AM

    >Forest for the Trees and Bird by Bird are my 2 favorite writing books.

    I also like An Introduction to Christian Writing by Ethel Herr. This might qualify as an "embarrassing" book to me, because it's not very cool. And my husband wonders why I go back and read it when I've already been published. I find it comforting.

    I'm in the middle of the 2nd Nancy Drew mystery right now. Read the first one a few days ago. I read them all as a kid and loved them. Definitely not high quality literature (or at all believable), but I can't stop.



  77. Rachelle on October 23, 2009 at 8:13 AM

    >In response to the first two commenters Aimee and Swapna, of course there are many reasons people might be embarrassed to admit some of the things they enjoy reading. One, if you're around writers much, you'll notice how there are certain books they love to deride and call c**p, so in these circles it's hard to admit you like those books. Two, there are certain people who think Christians "shouldn't" read certain kinds of books, so if we read those, it might also feel a little embarrassing. I'm sure there are other reasons but those are a couple that come to mind for me.

    Anyway, the purpose of this post is so that we can all come out of the closet and admit what we read! Maybe it will help us be less critical of the books we don't "like" or approve of, and go even further towards acceptance of all the kinds of books that are out there.



  78. Rebecca on The Homefront on October 23, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    >I can't say that I'm truly embarrassed to be caught reading anything that I do…although the anthropology books on sex certainly aren't ones that I'd like my kids to read the titles.

    What's truly embarrassing is being the only adult in a library young adults or juvenile section, quite obviously borrowing Harry Potter, Twilight, or Artemis Fowl for myself. The teenagers tend to give me the evil eye.



  79. Rachel on October 23, 2009 at 8:10 AM

    >P.S. JJ Beatie–I love James Herriot! I read "Oscar: Cat About Town" at least once a week to my son. πŸ™‚



  80. Kristen Joy Wilks on October 23, 2009 at 8:07 AM

    >I just love Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden novels. But their kindof spooky and occasionally get…um "spicy" so I'm embarressed when someone catches me laughing outloud and demands to know what wonderful book I am reading and I recomend the books but with all of these footnotes about the attacking demons and uber-sexy vampires.

    I actually have to skip quite a few parts because I get scared easily, even though I'm (cough cough) old. But I've found that if I skip every other paragraph when Harry is fighting a monster that I catch all of his hilarious dialogue and miss the descriptions of the ghost or whatever critter he is fighting. Silly Huh.



  81. Rachel on October 23, 2009 at 8:04 AM

    >I read an essay for a college class about books we display on the 'downstairs bookshelves' and ones we reserve for the 'upstairs bookshelves.' It was basically an academic treatment of this idea–what do we (secretly) read, and what books make us proud of ourselves to have read. Such a funny, interesting topic. I usually read literary fiction, but I buy every one of Maeve Binchy's books in hardback because I can't wait till they come out in paperback/get to the library. And I'm sort of poor. So.



  82. Matt Heppe on October 23, 2009 at 8:03 AM

    >I'm friends with romance author Ann Lawrence. I wanted to read one of her books, so I picked up Virtual Warrior. I enjoyed the book, but I had to rip the front cover off in order to read it. Half-naked muscle-bound warriors are just not my thing.



  83. CKHB on October 23, 2009 at 7:58 AM

    >Thank you to Katie for breaking the ice on the kind of book I'm going to admit to reading…

    I'm pretty sure the only books I wouldn't want to be seen with in public are erotica books. I don't need to share the details of my sexual preferences with passers-by, you know?



  84. Billy Coffey on October 23, 2009 at 7:56 AM

    >The Forest for the Trees is one of the best books on writing that I've ever read. It really is a must.

    And I have to say I'm a closet Dan Brown reader, too…



  85. Melanie Dickerson on October 23, 2009 at 7:55 AM

    >I love Julie Garwood's historical romances, but shh, don't tell anybody.



  86. birdermurdermomma on October 23, 2009 at 7:47 AM

    >This is fun! I agree with Someday Author about Iris Johanssen getting unimaginative – actually I feel that way about a lot of writers who turn one out each year. I quit reading John Grisham and Robin Cook years ago for that very reason. These days, my guilty pleasure is Sandra Brown for a quick read. But I do admit I steal ideas from her, too, as she does great plot twists. That's one of the reasons I try to read from all genres – you never know where your next great idea will come from!



  87. Charlee on October 23, 2009 at 7:46 AM

    >It doesn't usually bother me what people think of my book choice but recently on the train reading Belle Du Jour's latest I felt a little awkward!



  88. Breeze on October 23, 2009 at 7:45 AM

    >I read whatever I can get my hands on…my bookshelf sitting right beside me has The Hotel New Hampshire, Can you Keep a Secret by Sophia Kinsella, The Thornbirds, Deliverance, Strong Medicine by Arthur Hailey, The Davinci Code, The Eyes of the Dragon by SK, The Lamorna Wink, Little Women, The Twilight Books, Harry Potter Books(mine not my kids) The World from Rough Stones, The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, MacBeth, Anna Karenina, War and Peace, She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb…and then a whole bunch of non fiction…

    I enjoyed them all and they are all so very different and all so valid.

    Can't seem to get embarrassed about reading anything..some days I'm up for the depth of Deliverance, other days I want the escape of a Harlequin Romance type thing…I'm a re-reader too and I read Jane Austen almost daily..right now I have 4-5 books open in various parts of the house..every where I sit I read…

    Ps..found two typos in the last book of the Twilight saga…

    Breeze



  89. SomedayAuthor on October 23, 2009 at 7:31 AM

    >Don't feel bad, Amber, I think I read all four Twilight books in less than four days. I was embarrassed when I picked up the first one, but after about ten pages I couldn't think about anything but finishing! Also, I read Iris Johanssen, which isn't exactly embarrassing but after fifteen or so, unimaginative.

    I agree with some other commenters though, because I'm rarely embarrassed. Sometimes my brain just wants an 'easy read,' and I'm glad they're out there.

    Oh yeah, I bought the Lost Symbol but haven't read it yet.



  90. Rachelle on October 23, 2009 at 7:28 AM

    >I'm not in the romance writing world so I didn't know "bodice ripper" was a no-no. I should have guessed! Learn something new everyday.



  91. Amber Tidd Murphy on October 23, 2009 at 7:24 AM

    >It's not exactly that I'm embarrassed to admit I read the Twilight saga… it's just the fact that I read them so quickly, obsessively, even. I read all four in about two weeks. I finished the fourth book on my way home from the lake. My husband was driving, and he said, "That was the last one, right? Thank God! I have my wife back."



  92. ginny martyn on October 23, 2009 at 7:23 AM

    >I'm not embarrassed to ask tween girls for their recommendations, but I AM embarrassed to carry around the House of Night & Blue Bloods series. The recent additions to the undead genre are a lot less sparkly.

    No one can read a saucy romance in public. Getting all hot and bothered around strangers is a bit creepy. Not to mention distracting; who can focus on spreadsheets after reading a scene between the sheets? Yikes!



  93. Angie Ledbetter on October 23, 2009 at 7:14 AM

    >I must be strange. I'm not embarrassed by anything I read. πŸ™‚



  94. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought on October 23, 2009 at 7:10 AM

    >Funny story here. Several days ago I wrote a post about Water for Elephants and how much I loved the beginning. It is a good book, one of those I look forward to reading whenever I have a free moment. But, the day after I’d written all my praises about the book, I get to a (detailed!) strip scene. Nice. My husband and I shared a good laugh about what my blog followers might think of my taste.
    ~ Wendy



  95. Aimee States on October 23, 2009 at 6:48 AM

    >The Lost Symbol, all four of those Twilight books. The first four Sookie Stackhouse books before I gave up. I could go on for daaaaays.



  96. Krista Phillips on October 23, 2009 at 6:42 AM

    >Recently, none. Well, none that I'll admit to publicly anyway. *huge grin*

    Back in my teens I did read a few, um, smutty romance novels (is that better than bodice-ripper??? probably not….) but I stay away from those now. Although I do love all of Deeanne Gist's historicals and geez, she gets probably as hot and steamy as Christian romance is allowed to get there. I was a WEE bit embarrassed loaning them to my fellow avid reader… my mom:-) But I still love her honest portrayal of humanity and romance.



  97. Anonymous on October 23, 2009 at 6:28 AM

    >Romance writers hate the term bodice-ripper.



  98. Kelly Combs on October 23, 2009 at 6:27 AM

    >I love Stuart Woods books, BUT (in my opinion) he puts so much s*x in them that I would be embarrassed to be seen reading them. He could take out ALL the s*x and would have fabulous books.

    I even went to his web site to mention to him I thought they could use a tone-down, and when reading the Q&A, he said that was his favorite part to write. On well!



  99. JJ Beattie on October 23, 2009 at 6:16 AM

    >Oh, the James Herriot books – the Yorkshire vet – I love them because they make me laugh out loud. Over the years I've read them again and again.

    It's ridiculous to be embarrassed but I am a tiny bit, simply because it's so unlike the genre I usually read or the one I'm writing in.

    I'm old and robust enough to proclaim here and on my own blog that I love the stories and I just don't care any more if I'm judged for that.

    Great question. How many will be too embarrassed to declare it?



  100. Katie Ganshert on October 23, 2009 at 5:55 AM

    >Ummm….okay, I'm laughing here at my computer, because I can't believe I'm going to admit this.

    As a huge fan of Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennett, I saw this book at Borders a few years ago and decided I had to get it.

    It's called Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife. Ever heard of it? I thought I'd read a sweet romance of Darcy and Elizabeth. Yea…not so much. Think, Pride and Prejudice meets x-rated sex flick. No joke. What also isn't a joke is that I finished the book.



  101. Timothy Fish on October 23, 2009 at 5:19 AM

    >I can't say I've read them recently, but I've got a couple of books sitting on the shelf in my personal library that otherwise qualify. One is The Best Man by Grace Livingston Hill. For a romance, it's not a bad story, but then it isn't a typical romance either.

    The other is The Princess by Lori Wick. It's another romance and I don't like to admit to reading romances for any reason other than there not being anything else to read, but there're some things about it that make it even more embarrassing to admit to this group, in particular, that I've both read it and reread it.



  102. Sara β™₯ on October 23, 2009 at 5:14 AM

    >I definitely know what you mean. I try to stay well-rounded in genres and go back and forth from commercial to literary fiction. I always come back to the one I love though… fantasy.

    Unfortunately, I'm pretty much the only one of my friends or (previous) co-workers who enjoys it. I buck it up and read what I want to anyway, but there have been times when I've gotten teased (albeit good naturedly most of the time) about the Sara Douglass / George R.R. Martin books I read… Or Orson Scott Card (which I find ridiculous… Hello? Ender's Game anyone?)



  103. Christina Kopp on October 23, 2009 at 4:52 AM

    >I understand why people might feel embarrassed about reading certain books. That's not to say I think they should feel embarrassed. But it's a natural feeling. There's a reason why that cliched piece of advice "don't judge a book by its cover" exists. I think some people, especially those in an academic and/or publishing setting, take books so seriously that they view a person's reading habits as shorthand for that person's intellectual interests and character. Again, I'm not advocating this kind of snap judgment, but I do think it's human nature to some degree.

    So, yeah, I've been known to enjoy good bodice-ripper myself. πŸ™‚



  104. Swapna Raghu Sanand on October 23, 2009 at 4:29 AM

    >I too am wondering why any reader would feel embarrassed about reading a book.



  105. Aimee LS on October 23, 2009 at 3:41 AM

    >Why should we be embarrassed about reading something we enjoy? It's like as writers / editors / critiquers we're not allowed to get lost in the moment.

    Surely that's what we hope people will do when they read OUR stuff?

    Or is it just me on that one…?



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