Thursday, September 25, 2008

Booking through Thursday: Well, that was different!

A Thursday meme:
What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?
And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?

I tend to have broad interests in general but I suppose the book most outside my norm was The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century by Carlo Ginzburg. It was a book that my husband recommended to me (he's a medievalist) because of my interest in social culture and history as well as the Inquisition and the subject of witchcraft during the medieval period. I was hesitant because it was one of his schoolbooks and it was my experience that I had trouble staying awake in previous attempts. However, I was intrigued and interested in some new research for a book I was writing (I'm still in the midst of a second re-write) so I picked it up.

I found that the subject was intriguing! The book was not nearly as dry as some of the other books clunking around the house and I probably put more sticky notes in its pages than my husband did when he read it for class. It's definitely one of my favorite academic history books...of course it's the first one I've made an effort of reading outside of school, I am pretty sure it won't be the last.

I thought that the question would have been easier to answer if I had read the type of paperback romance novel that had a long-haired, tanned man with an open shirt embracing some woman in a corset with a "heaving bosom." That is definitely outside my comfort level.

A few summers ago, I figured I was lacking experience in reading romantic fiction of the paperback kind so I marched myself over to the library. My plan: to find one with a cover that I just described...perhaps with a pirate! Pirates are cool and could somehow negate the uneasiness I felt about reading a book with a lurid cover. (Not that I am at all prude...I think I just would be a little embarrassed to read a, excuse me for saying this, trashy romance novel.)

Of course, when I got there, I couldn't get the nerve to approach the little wire rack with the hot pink fluorescent sign marked "Romance." It was full of books with all sorts of covers...each one something that I felt kinda shamed looking at. I passed the rack each time looking for the elusive trashy pirate romance but each time completely chickening out. I swear it felt like being a teenager trying to buy condoms at the grocery store.

It's silly, because millions of people love these novels. And it's not like I haven't read other mass-market books...I've definitely read a ton of trashy fantasy books. I am awed at those who read them...I am not as courageous! Perhaps though in the future, I will break through the barrier and find a suitable romance novel and work my way up. I just have to accept that I am not ready or prepared for the elusive pirate-romance.


jlshall said...

I have the same reaction to romance novels - I'd probably be embarrassed to buy one. Have you read The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman? It's an interesting book you might want to look at - almost a romance, but a really entertaining historical novel, too.

PopinFresh said...

Like Jlshall, I'm the same way with romance novels. That book sounds really good, I don't think I would've ever considered reading it if you didn't mention it.

~ Popin

Smilingsal said...

Romance novels are not what I choose to read either, but I don't think that the ones you describe are trashy; I think they're pablum. Ah well, that's my opinion. Happy BTT! Come visit to read my post.

"Confuzzled" Shannon said...

I have never read one of those kinds of romances novels. I feel kinda like they can't be any better then Jackie Collins. Now Jackie Collins can tell some stuff about lust. lol

S. Krishna said...

I'm the same about romance novels! A lot of the covers embarrass me too much to even go near them.