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Your guilty reading pleasure. Go.

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The books you’re scared to admit that you love.

 

By ANNA CAMPBELL

When it comes to reading, do you have guilty pleasures?

Books you hide under your pillow rather than display proudly on the middle shelf of the bookcase in the dining room? Covers so lurid that you quietly slip the War and Peace dustjacket over them if you’re planning on reading in the train?

I’ve always been a voracious reader. Some might even say chronic. Seriously, the back of the milk carton will do if I can’t lay my eager hands on any other printed matter.

I read pretty much everything, although my favourite genre has always been romance. There’s something truly addictive about that dance of the relationship and the characters’ emotional journey and the blissful happy ending.

If it’s a historical romance, well, even better. I get all that other stuff, and men in boots as well!

Sadly, large sections of the world deride my reading tastes. Even more sadly, large sections of the world have no idea what fun they’re missing by not reading romance, but that’s another story.

I can remember a grade 10 maths teacher making me clean out my desk ,chaotic not with the paraphernalia of calculus, but book covers featuring bare-chested heroes and women in nighties with flowing blond hair. Her verdict: “I’d never amount to anything while I read that rubbish.”

I also remember a grade 12 teacher who caught me reading a historical romance when I was supposed to be studying trigonometry.She insisted that reading those books would be no use to me at all and I needed to grow up. Trigonometry is yet to rescue me from any difficulty, large or small, but I’m happy to wait patiently for the moment when it comes in handy.

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Anna Campbell.
Anna Campbell.

There were even a sad few years when I disguised myself as a literature student at Queensland University and joined in with the general public contempt for romance fiction. While stashing a box full of Mills and Boons under my bed.

It was a bit like being a bourgeois capitalist in Stalinist Russia. I’m sure that if the authorities had discovered my secret addiction to stern-jawed millionaires of a passionate persuasion and gutsy Cinderella heroines, I’d have been expelled forthwith!

Let’s not talk about those many trips on public transport when I developed a crick in my neck in an attempt to hide the clinch on the cover.

Olympic gymnastics might give some indication of how I folded and bent myself to conceal my shame. This was well before the days when you got on a train and saw 80% of the passengers with their noses buried in 50 Shades of Grey.

Over the last ten years or so, as a nice result of getting older and learning that you can’t please everyone so you gotta please yourself, I’ve decided that I read what I read what I read. John Fogerty from Creedence Clearwater Revival was quite the philosopher. No wonder Mary was so proud of him.

These days, I no longer have guilty pleasures. I just have pleasures. I stand up proudly and say, “I’m a romance reader, and what’s it to ya, bub?” The truth has set me free!

So when you read, do you classify some books as guilty pleasures? A Dan Brown on the bedside table? Flowers in the Attic in the attic? A Mills and Boon lurking under the pile of towels in the bathroom? Confession is good for the soul!

Have you read any of these ‘guilty pleasure’ books?

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Queenslander, Anna Campbell has written eight multi award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and her work is published internationally, including in North America, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, Turkey and Japan. The Australian Romance Readers Association voted Anna their favorite Australian romance author of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Book 2 in the “Sons of Sin” series, A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, is out 1st August, 2013.

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