the terrible parallel between my reading and eating habits

It started with Laurell K. Hamilton–she was writing a series of books that a friend told me was totally like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and at that point in my life, I had just finally succumbed to the one million people who had told me I would love Buffy more than anything else in the entire world, and it was true. I fell head-over-heels for that show, became a maniac, inhaled all the seasons that had already been produced (five, in total), and waited impatiently for the sixth. I was a wreck and wanted more. So I should say that really, it started with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this absolute craving for kickass supernatural ladies who do kickass supernatural things in a supernatural kind of way, and Hamilton seemed to fit the bill like you wouldn’t believe.

It was a relatively new genre, the kickass supernatural lady genre, when I started reading her Anita Blake series. There was a lady named Anita Blake, who might as well have been named Maurell J. Kamilton, whose voice had no nuance and whose personality was supposed to be tough-as-nails but whose frequency was pretty much nails-on-a-chalkboard, but the books were fun and fast-paced and Anita kicked vampire butt and there were guns and knives and zombies and she was a necromancer and it was kind of cool. They were throwaway paperbacks. They were a gateway drug.

I tore through the series, and started to look for others. The concept hadn’t
quite caught on yet, so I kept buying the Anita Blake books, even as
they started to go…horribly awry, is the only way really to put it. Suddenly, Anita Blake was not just a federal- marshal-slash-vampire-executioner. Suddenly she was a psycho hose-beast who was doing it in
the butt with 83 werewolves and a goat and adding superpowers
to her brand-new superpower arsenal at an alarming and improbable rate
(…more improbable, I mean. You know what I mean!) and every single male
in her books was madly in love with her even though she was really
nothing more than a horrible, wretched, unpleasant, whining, shrieking
harpy asshole. And I kept reading them because–I don’t know why,
exactly! On the bonus side–I stopped paying for them, when I learned to
love my library.

Then there was a renaissance, and the books started coming fast and
furiously, most of them far better-written than the ones by Ms. Hamilton (whom I
kept reading as she doubled her output with books about violent fairies
who had a lot of sex). I picked up and discarded a lot of series, but I
found I loved Rachel Caine (a bad-ass chick who can control the
weather) and Kelley Armstrong (lots of bad-ass chicks who could do many
bad-ass things) and I was happy, am happy every time a new one comes
out, am surrounded by an embarrassment of riches in the bad-ass chick
genre, am terribly embarrassed to be reading these things.

I always thought that I was a reasonably smart person who read smart
books and could have good conversations about them, but that is
probably, if I am going to go ahead and be honest with you, a total
lie. I’ve already confessed the fact that I used to read romance novels; now I am going on about how I read what boil down, pretty much,
to paranormal romances. It used to be that trashy books were a brain
break every once in awhile, but now, now I devour trashy books, and
those smart books have become the exception to the rule, an antidote to
all the candy. My reading habits have become as bad as my eating
habits, and I bet you my mind is pretty flabby. Quick. Send Dostoevsky
and a crossword puzzle.

9 Replies to “the terrible parallel between my reading and eating habits”

  1. Hey, I’m with you. I never went near a romance, but then I got sucked into Charlaine Harris’s southern, vampire, mystery, romances. Sookie Stackhouse is the heroine. Somewhat of a bad-ass. She can read minds. She falls in love with vampires because she can’t read their minds because they are um, dead. I found out Alan Ball (writer – Six Feet Under and American Beauty) was making a series for HBO based on the books and then I didn’t feel so bad about my reading choice.

  2. Oh my goodness, I completely feel both what you and J said; I read Ms Hamilton’s books until they started to get way strange and then got into the Sookie Stackhouse series. They’re both totally trashy though trying to pretend they aren’t. But they’re also really fun.
    And one of the best parts is when in either of these series’ earlier novels, the author describes the heroines’ outfits – you can tell when the books were written by the descriptions of them :)

  3. Yes! The Sookie Stackhouse books! I am reading those too! I forgot to mention those.
    And Anita was always wearing white running sneakers with everything, which drove me totally nuts. Ugly. Ugly! Almost as ugly as the rainbow colored silk miniskirts she’s always prancing around in now. Complete with three inch heels, because supernatural powers strengthen your ankles, apparently.

  4. I think I only stuck with Anita Blake’s book until book six, but it was her suddenly turning into a little godling instead of remaining just a bad-ass heroine with one wicked power. Flipped through a recent one, and had the same reaction to the scene that her best friend was having. Not fun any more.
    I’m totally enraptured with Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series for the paranormal romance trashy book fix. I think it’s a pretty entertaining twist to the vampire mythos.

  5. I haven’t read Anita Blake but must put in a word for Kim Harrison’s series set in Cincinnati. I love the idea of supernatural Cincinnati. I call them the sexy witch books and sometimes I hide the covers while I’m reading them. All the titles are puns on Clint Eastwood movie titles. And the protagonist’s fashion sense reminds me of a cute friend who liked to dress trashy in the early 90s. The writing is fun and smart. There are plot holes but they are leaped with such brio that I can’t hold it against the author. I love how Rachel Morgan (the sexy witch) eyes every male that comes into range. It’s like Mickey Spillane with gender reversal.
    There’s room for lightness as well as profundity on a reading list. What do you want to be caught reading?

  6. I loved Anita Blake until the series got . . . confusing. I’ll recommend Patricia Briggs as another awesome paranormal fantasy writer. And Michelle West for anyone more interested in fantasy.

  7. Jeez louise, this is the second Anita Blake post I’ve commented on this week. The other was, which is a comic book blog wherein they were discussing the AB:VH comic books. Since the gentleman in question has never read Guilty Pleasures, upon which the comics are based, he’s very confused by the whole thing.
    *puppy dog eyes* Don’t give up on the trashy supernatural romance stuff yet, though! I’m almost finished writing my first trashy supernatural romance novel with butt-kicking women (who I promise will not get a single supernatural power, we’ll leave that to her boytoy).

  8. I have read most of the books by those authors and now I have been reading anything that remotely resembles a paranormal romance, so heres more authors for you: Majorie M Lui, Nalini Singh, JR Ward, Kresley Cole. Enjoy

  9. I’ll chime in to recommend Kim Harrison as well–if you like Kelley Armstrong, I think you’ll like her books too.
    I have no idea what happened to Hamilton’s books–it’s the same way in her other series too which is about a fairy princess who, wait for it, has to have sex all the time. Mystical crazy sex!!!!!!! It’s v. annoying.

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