You can tell a great deal about a person by the company he or she keeps and the books he or she reads. I love perusing other people's libraries. There is great pleasure in discovering new authors and books, and in discovering shared tastes for old favorites on the shelves of both long-standing friends and new acquaintances. Cyberspace relationships complicate matters somewhat, limiting one's ability to sneak over to the bookcase when one's host excuses him or herself for a moment. Sure, you can ask what people are reading, but the likelihood that they'll admit to their literary vices as well as their literary virtues is slim.
So here’s a challenge. Tell me (or post on your own blog and let me know, so I can check it out) about your guilty and/or relatively mindless reading material. Not the stuff you added to the book list thingamabobs—Shakespeare, Augustine, Homer, Thomas Aquinas. Not the stuff you put out on the coffeetable. No. I want to know the stuff under your bed, the books with the chocolate stains on the pages. For this we’re talkin’ Calvin and Hobbes, the Messies books, Tarzan, Louis L’amour, or maybe even those awful Harlequin romances.
Or, if you do read the heavy-duty stuff on a regular basis (and I realize a lot of you do), come clean and ‘fess up the non-intellectual advantages you enjoy from doing so.
Just in case you're curious, I’ll even play fair. My own literary confessions are still online at The Missouri Review’s website from a couple of years back, and they still hold true.