There’s a conversation that has happened plenty of times over cocktails with friends regarding the types of men we date. The Shoulds vs. The Shoudn’ts. The Shoulds usually consist of the basic following criteria: Educated with a stable job, wears grown-up clothes that fit properly, and knows that Uranus is actually a planet rather than a body part. However, we constantly ask ourselves why (why?!) are we so often seduced by the guys who fit this basic criteria: May not have passed high school, but we don’t bother to ask because they have serious abs and a wicked smile. Jobs schmobs — they’re creative or tough or cute (and did I mention the serious abs?), and they wouldn’t know Handsome Dan if he waddled up to them with a blue and white scarf in his teeth for them to put around their necks. All we can concentrate on is the charming smile, the witty retort, the I-know-how-to-break-the-rules vibe they give off. That said, almost all of us have either married or paired off with A Should… but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our flings with The Shouldn’ts.
How does this apply to books? Oh, honey. Haven’t you ever just had it with the books that you Should Read? The ones that people raise eyebrows at you about if you shyly admit that you have not cracked them open; the ancient classics (Homer, Euripides, Plato), the classics-that-most-people-think-of-as-classics (Dickens, Austen, Eliot), the modern classics (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Woolf), or even the very it literary fiction of the moment (future “classics”)… “oh my gosh, you haven’t read Franzen?!”
As one who does read a variety of the above books, I also really love “slumming” it. There’s really nothing like an affair with a heart pounding, pulse racing, can’t-get-enough, charming page turner that you’d rather order off of the Internet than buy face to face from the bookseller. The kind where, if asked in conversation what you are reading, you’ll not admit to it. And, like rebounding, once you’ve gone on one too many dates with your pearls on, there’s nothing like putting on a skirt that’s a little too short and heels that are a little too tall, and heading out to the local dive to see who’ll buy you a drink. Let’s face it, sometimes a good ol’ steamy quickie on the weekend is just what the doctor ordered after a long-serious relationship with a book that’s more like the fella likely to fold his underwear than rip yours off.
Some of My Favorite Authors to Go Slumming With:
For the record: I don’t actually think reading books that don’t qualify as literary fiction is actually “slumming it” (I think reading, is reading, is reading… and yay for reading!), nor is dating people who didn’t go to Yale. I am (somewhat) making fun of people who do think this way.