The GGA Project -- Day #136 "Guilty Pleasure (?)"

After leaving Monkey at his Dad's this evening, I headed to University Avenue in Palo Alto for a date-with-self, and one of the places I was most excited to go to was Borders.  Man, talk about cheap thrills.  The thing is, I used to work at Barnes & Noble forever.  I left and went back to work there three times!  A part of me really loved that workplace, despite the fact that it was retail.  If you're gonna work in retail, I can scarcely imagine a better venue than the bookstore.

Since leaving work there permanently, I've gotten a little bit sad whenever I go into bookstores.  For a time there, the subjects I was browsing were less-than-fun (having to do with relationships and divorce and whatnot), and since then I've been spending most of any time I browse books in the children's section at the library.

But this evening I felt the strong pull to re-live the feeling of my youthful, exploratory jaunts to Borders...the very first Borders that opened near the mall just before I graduated from high school in Phoenix, Arizona.  I remember walking into that place for the first time with my parents, brother, and grandpa, and thinking it was the most magical store I could conceive of (not that I'd conceived of this one, but I'd be hard-pressed to conceive of one more awesome).  I mean, really.  Books, music, and a coffee shop, all rolled into one?!  Kids these days take such places for granted, but back then it was a true novelty.

And even though I liked working at Barnes & Noble, once you work at a place like that 40 hours/week, you don't exactly enjoy hanging out in one.  Tonight was the first time in years I'd felt free to just browse all the displays without feeling the overwhelming urge to straighten anything that was out of line or in the wrong spot. Nevermind that I never worked at a Borders, I still would have felt the desire before: 'There are books out of alignment nearby; I must so what I can to remedy this!'

I wanted to splurge on a book I could abuse and dog ear, since the library is all up tight about that, it would seem.  But what to buy?

In thinking about The GGA, it occurred to me that it was a good opportunity to buy some guilty pleasure genre fiction.  What was the biggest departure from something I would normally choose?  I very briefly entertained the idea of buying a romance novel.  But this project is supposed to be fun, not torturous.  Nix that.

Then I thought of sci-fi or fantasy, an option I've actually considered once before, in the very early days of the project, but I decided I'm still not quite ready for that.

Perfect solution: mystery.  I used to admit to being (internally at least, and outwardly to some) something of a literature snob.  Anyone who studied literature as a major will tell you it's nearly sacrilegious (why is that word spelled like that?  The "i" and the "e" seem backward) to admit to reading, and god forbid enjoying, any genre fiction.  Mystery, sci-fi, and especially romance were for the lower-minded species of readers.  In my growing and expanding, however, I've come to realize that this attitude was simple prejudice, judgement, and close-mindedness.  While I might not be drawn to choose books in any of these genres, I had absolutely no grounds on which to snub them, especially since I'd never even read books in any of these genres! (Unless you count the Nancy Drew mysteries I read as a little girl).

So it was I ended up in the mystery aisle.

Today's New Activity: Mystery Genre Purchase

Once in the aisle I had a new decision to make.  Which of the mystery superstar authors would I choose?

First I thought the good thing to do would be to choose the very last thing I would have typically gone for.  First on that list would probably be one of the books in the ever-expanding mystery + cats or mystery + food sub-categories.  But I'm not there yet.  Then there was the author J.D. Robb, who is immensely popular because he's really the romance novelist Nora Roberts disguised as "J.D. Robb"--a la George Eliot, only not at ALL like that, since it tells you right on the book cover that J.D. Robb is really Nora Roberts.  Seriously, what is the point?  Anyway, I wasn't burning to try that option either.

In the end, Steig Larsson caught my attention.

I feel like choosing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is cheating in a way, if the goal was to explore genre fiction.  The book was critically acclaimed in a way that books shelved in these aisles typically are not.  But hey, we're taking baby steps here.  Next time I may just be willing to pick up one of Janet Evanovich's numerical series or Sue Grafton's alphabetical one.  I doubt it, but you never know.

Oh, and so far I've only read the prologue to my new book, but I can tell it's gonna be a page-turner.  And though page-turners aren't typically my thing, I am excited about this guilty pleasure, and maybe not even all that guilty.


  1. that boarders is still there, too! i remember that being the first mega bookstore i ever went to. i also remember when renee called barnes & nobel "barnes and (part of the female anatomy)" on accident! i still laugh every time i go there. i am so sad that TWO of my favorite borders closed recently. now i'd have to trek all the way to milpitas. so barnes and hy^@# it is.

  2. Okay, so that book you're reading was a MAJOR snooze for me the first thirty pages or so. (I think I actually tried to kill myself by slitting my wrists with a page edge, but I had to keep reading for a BOOK CLUB.) *sigh* It turned out to be great read! But if you are ever looking for just awesome characters in the mystery genre, please try Jonathan Kellerman---one of his Alex Delaware novels. Totally and most absolutely pure word-heroin. Really.