In praise of guilty pleasures

“Guilty pleasures” are usually defined as something not-literature or otherwise not-classy that you enjoy anyway, and it feels a little like playing hooky when you read or watch or listen to it. Where does the guilt come from?

My guilty pleasure was comic books, best of all Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, the early days of Marvel Comics when Stan Lee and friends were just getting started. They were my gateway drugs to Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson and George Eliot, but I digress: Even if I didn’t later discover the “appropriate” classics, the Marvel stories gave me pleasure, and that fueled an eagerness to read, and that my friends is a good thing.

Read, and the world opens up to you — in fact, worlds, plural, brilliant vast worlds of possibility.

So you love detective stories or space opera or thrillers with their explosions and aliens and things that go bump in the night? So? You’re reading — you’re delighting in the power of these odd heiroglyphs that represent words and tell stories and pass along the wisdom of the ages.

In the film Serenity, a pastor’s dying words are, “I don’t care what you believe, just believe it.” He means to say a belief in a higher power, a higher calling, anything higher — it lifts you.

I don’t care what you read, just read it. And there’s no need to feel guilty about the pleasure it gives you. You’re connecting with another mind through words, and that is something special.

One thought on “In praise of guilty pleasures

  1. Beautifully put. I’ve never been a subscriber to the idea of guilty pleasures in anything. Except, perhaps, murder and the like – that I could call a guilty pleasure. 🤔

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