It's just like junior high. You have a crush, but it's embarrassing to admit it. You promise yourself you won't tell anyone, but somehow it comes out.

So I'll confess first. I like George Michael. I know, I know! Can't help it; love his music, think he's cute. Now what has that got to do with reading?

Some are embarrassed to admit they read romances and mysteries, as if they should be reading "better" stuff. I have two arguments: first, even serious readers need to gear down sometimes and read something enjoyable, something that doesn't leave you wilted on the floor at the inhumanity of man/womankind. Who can maintain a steady diet of Kafka and Hemingway? Second, if you enjoy reading something, you should read it. "Better", like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and a snazzy romance or an intriguing mystery may be just the thing. There's always time for Kafka later if you get in the mood.

Still, you hear it in a person's tone of voice or get it from their word choice. "Oh, I'm just reading a Sue Grafton right now," or "I picked up a Julie Garwood to take on vacation." Nothing serious, they imply. Just something to read.

Back in junior high, weren't you thrilled when, if you got the nerve to confess your crush, your friends said, "Yes, he's really cute." What a relief! You aren't a dork for liking that person. It's the same feeling when your friend answers your mention of Sue Grafton with, "Have you read her newest one? I just loved it."

Reading such things is no longer a shameful secret. Now it's a shared delight.

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