My former bookseller friend Amy and myself once came up for a term for the books you read during exams when your brain cannot take the flickering lights of the 13th floor of Robarts any longer; the books that latch onto your brain and keep you steadfastly reading into the wee hours of the morning during your Christmas break...and then keep you well-fed throughout the next day starting at whatever time you roll headachily out of bed. The same books that sustain you through flights and bus trips to Reading Week destinations or to the cottage on the long weekend; the books you tuck under your arm as you scale down the boardwalk to the harbour on a balmy Spring night.
These books need not have any literary qualities, need not be disected or chewed on or discussed. They need only the following elements:
---a setting so fantastically unlike your own you blink twice to form it in your mind's eye (bonus if historical and set on a ship).
----characters so deliciously like and yet so unlike yourself you wish upon wish for more than a resemblance as you scan their happy and fairytale-esque lives with envious glee
---a frosting of romance or adventure so sweet and understated you go back pages upon pages to get it exactly right mouthing: " did this just happen? Let me see that again!"
The one jolly thing about my hiatus from school is my ability to read whatever the heck I want. As I tend to read about 5-7 books a week, I try, as is my duty as a bookseller, to read from a wide range of genres. I will usually read one book of literary or classical fiction ( or revisit old favourites ), one work of biography, history or literary criticism, one Young Adult novel and one genre novel ( usually mystery ). The other books I read are completely wild card!
In the past couple of weeks I have over-indulged in a lot of candy. Namely, fantasy-romances. Anyone who knows me knows that this is about as unlikely for me as a bout of sudden passion for the works of Dan Brown. Fantasy romance?!?!?! I can see many a jaw dropping. Yes, Virginia, there really is a pile of Luna books on my dresser. Once I got past that surge of guilt one immediately has upon cracking the spine of a candy novel, I fell deeply into the spell woven by Holly Lisle, Caitlin Brennan ( a nom de plume for Judith Tarr ) and Maria Snyder.
My candy reads for my recent long weekend in London ( the Ontario kind ) and my lunch breaks at work have been tantalizingly fluffy and delicious.
Looking for candy this holiday season? Candy so sweet and filling it tastes like the 18 mini mars bars you sneak from the jar on Hallowe'en night while waiting for kids to ring your doorbell?
Lose yourself completely! Hop from whatever work of "legitimate" literature you have pawned yourself into appreciating and dive into:
Talyn by Holly Lisle, Poison Study and its sequel Magic Study by Maria Snyder and the works of Sharon Shinn.
Some argue that all reading is candy.... it tastes good, is addictive and can be bad for you ( staying up well past normal hours for one more chapter ), I argue differently. Literature is tasty--- like a filling meal that tempts your palate with a range of complicated sensations. Often rich and dizzying, sometimes sour or stale.....often leaving you more than full. Candy, on the other hand, offers temporary hyper-satisfaction; a sugar rush that dissolves and leaves you craving sterner stuff. Reach into the jar now and then and pull out something colourful and chocolatey and sweet, but remember boys and girls, never let it completely spoil your appetite!