6 Genres We’re Embarrassed to Read in Public (…But Will Anyway)

Some books we read with pride…others, not so much

guilty pleasure books we to read

There are books we’re proud to show off on our commute and there are those we wouldn’t dare take out in public with the dust jackets on. Nevertheless, everyone has that book they’re embarrassed to read out in the open.

Don’t worry, though, we’re not judging! (We’ve been known to get caught up in Jane Austen and Fifty Shades of Grey, ourselves.) To put your fears to rest, here are six of our own guilty pleasure reads we’re not afraid to appreciate:

1. Romance Novels

6 Guilty Pleasure Books We Have No Shame in Reading
Warner Books / Warner Vision

The Conception: Most people don’t like admitting they can tear through a steamy romance novel like nobody’s business. And pining after Mr. Dreamboat can often seem silly or desperate.

The Truth: Romance novels are amazing! These books not only take you to a whole new place and introduce you to characters who are usually perfect in every way, they’re sobworthiness makes them all the more irresistible. I mean, really, what better way is there to escape the dreary life of real-world dating–or, as I like to call it, the “Tinder Depression”–than to imagining yourself smooching someone like Noah Calhoun.

The Book(s): You can’t go wrong with a Nicholas Sparks romance, he’s notorious for crafting some of the best heart-warmers. The Notebook is easily one of his most beloved. (Psst… you should try A Walk to Remember, too!) Rent the movie while you’re at it, might as well get in all your sobbing at once.

2. Vampire Lit

6 Guilty Pleasure Books We Have No Shame in Reading
Little, Brown and Company / Ballantine Books

The Conception: Ah, vampires. Once the scariest villains in stories told to horrify children before bedtime. Now, they sparkle. There are many reasons to scoff at these blood-sucking characters, but mostly because, in recent years, stories surrounding our fine, fanged friends have become pretty laughable.

The Truth: What’s more fun (and, in recent years, sexy) than a vampire? Besides being super strong, super fast, and sometimes even able to use mind control, they’re also hopeless romantics! What could be better than a forever young and hot guy pledging his undying love to you?!

The Book(s): If you’re looking for something with a semblance of adulthood to it, I would go with Anne Rice. But if you’re on the fast track to cheesy, we recommend the Holy Grail series that made vampires a household laughingstock name: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight.

3. YA Novels

6 Guilty Pleasure Books We Have No Shame in Reading
Scholastic Press / Margaret K. McElderry Books

The Conception: YAs are often trashed for being silly, unrealistic and not requiring much imagination. There’s almost always a ridiculously forced love triangle, an annoying teenage lead, and without a doubt, a hefty dose of angst somewhere in between.

The Truth: While they may have more (plot) holes than swiss cheese, young adult novels actually know how to move a plot forward. Their characters are often funny, interesting and complex; and the dialogue is almost always on point.

The Book(s): There are so many YAs that are so much fun to read. If you’re looking for a good series to sink into, I would go with something like Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments or Suzanne Collins’ classic The Hunger Games trilogy.

4. Self-Help Books

6 Guilty Pleasure Books We Have No Shame in Reading
Simon & Schuster / Spiegel & Grau

The Conception: Everyone has felt ashamed at least once while reading self-help books. Even if nobody is thinking it, we naturally feel as if we’re being assessed by onlookers, like someone’s assuming we’re on the verge of a mental breakdown.

The Truth: Believe it or not, these books have gotten more popular lately. More people are realizing that self-help books can really be a great tool even if you don’t necessarily need them. To be frank, these books can teach us so much more about ourselves.

The Book(s): You can go old school with Dale Carnegie‘s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which touches on effective communication tips. Or, if you’re in the mood for something more contemporary, I’d recommend literally anything by Brenè Brown–she’s a social researcher who talks about the ways shame and fear rule our lives and how to deal with the problems we face every day. Not to mention, she’s received the magic “O” stamp of approval by Oprah Winfrey herself.

5. Children’s Books

6 Guilty Pleasure Books We Have No Shame in Reading
Harper Collins Publishers / Scholastic

The Conception: Most adults are accustomed to thinking children’s books are no longer applicable to them; this is a huge misconception. They are definitely not always just for kids! I’m not saying you should be eagerly paging through Goodnight Moon, but there are “children’s books” that suit your tastes more than you think.

The Truth: Children’s books contain fascinating stories. In recent years, especially, authors have really kicked things up a notch on the content and subject matter of these books, tightening storylines and giving these stories a ton of moral meaning.

The Book(s): Do I even need to say it? Obviously, if you’re looking for a children’s book that is absolutely for anyone, you need to pick up a book from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, if you haven’t already. Been there and done that? Then check out another classic: C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Or, if you’re seeking books with even fewer words but just the right emotional punch, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree will make you ugly-cry in no time.

6. Chick Lit

6 Guilty Pleasure Books We Have No Shame in Reading
Penguin Books / Dell Publishing Company

The Conception: Probably the most degrading on our list, but “chick lit,” by definition, is literature typically written by women for women; and is often viewed as light, fluffy and without much meaning below the surface.

The Truth: The books you’ll find on the shelves nowadays aren’t your momma’s girly stories, full of smut and silliness. Chick lit has evolved A LOT. Nowadays, chick lit books have been upping the ante on quality and life lessons. Also, these books are light-heartened and fun, which is what reading is all about, remember?

The Book(s): If you’re looking for fun on a sunny beach day, or searching for something relatable to real life, reach for Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. A modern-day twist on Austen, it’s hysterical and, best of all: it’s real. Bridget is literally every thirty-something (and some twenty-somethings, I’m sure!) failing at the love game and dealing with nagging parents. Another great read: Confessions of a Shopaholic, which chronicles woman’s fight against retail therapy. It’s also absolutely hilarious; I’d choose Sophie Kinsella over Proust any day.

Care not about those pesky stigmas! Put that dust cover back on and get out there to show off your smutty, teenage-inspired, young adult self-help book-slash-vampire romance to the world!

Which guilty pleasure books don’t you mind being called out for?

Tell us some of your guilty pleasure reads in the comments below!


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Written by Lena Gilmour

My name is Lena Gilmour. I'm a second-year university student passionate about reading and writing. I live in Canada and yes, it's as cold as they say it is.