Guilty Pleasures

What are we saying when we claim the book we are reading is a "guilty pleasure"? Why do we assume we should feel ashamed for our choice of literature? Are we presuming that all literature can be qualitatively measured? Why should we, even with a tongue-in-cheek intent, associate reading with guilt of any kind? It can be argued that when applied to food there can be at least metrics for what define "good" and "bad" (even if it amounts to the same thing: unnecessary and self-inflicted shame). Who are we assuming judges us for books that we think we should not be reading?

  • Actually a really interesting topic that spans literature and psychology. It would be interesting to also look at the division of categories - women vs men, different age groups, cultural divisions (for instance reading 'The Satanic Verses' in India is a very different 'guilty pleasure' to reading a Mills & Boons in America), even looking at the period changes as different popular culture texts have been adopted into mainstream society. – SaraiMW 6 years ago
  • From my experience, a lot of 'guilty pleasures' are books that are marketed towards women, and because of this they're seen as inherently inferior to works that are aimed at a mixed audience. While, generally, these books are no less worthwhile than their counterparts, because of the stigma surrounding them people attempt to justify their enjoyment of them as a 'guilty pleasure' to avoid having to get into a lengthy discussion of why they should be allowed to enjoy them without ridicule. – jessicalea 6 years ago
  • Very interesting idea! You could use works on the production fo taste such as Bourdieu's "Distinction" and consider the role of age, gender, race, sexuality, and other axes in defining what's a "legitimate" pleasure and what's a "guilty" pleasure. Maybe also consider the role of shame in the idea of guilty pleasure – rmostafa 6 years ago
  • "Guilty Pleasure" as reading something that doesn't fit what we might usually read. Reading a romantic novel if it is rare for someone to do. It might it open up a new world to explore regarding how we develop different perspectives. In this regarding, guilty pleasure serves a purpose, not just something we read because we needed to read something. – Joseph Cernik 6 years ago
  • I guess it's similar to when you like something but all your friends don't like it, so you either watch or read it secretly, like you're almost ashamed of liking it and don't want your friends to know you have a differing opinion. Or when you're expected to not like something, like an adult liking Barbie movies for example, or a man liking otome games. Not saying they can't, anyone can like anything. – TaylorKirb 6 years ago
  • I personally am not exactly a believer in the idea of a "guilty pleasure." If something gives one a sense of pleasure, no ill feelings coming from it, then why feel guilty? I do suppose it comes mostly from how most popular circles perceived a piece of media that garners that term. If others in a majority are bound to call something bad or not the usual level of quality, it can make one feel somewhat lesser for being in the camp that sees merit. But they're the ones who should be the most vocal about it as well. – berryplusbears 6 years ago
  • I personally never understood the notion of "guilty pleasures." If you enjoy a piece of media, then you shouldn't feel guilty about it. If I don't like a piece of work then I won't enjoy it, that's it. Like berryplusbears mentioned, I think it's from various media communities and how they may perceive other works that may not fit their specific criteria for what makes something good but still enjoy it. If you ask me, that's just expanding your tastes, but I guess it also helps some people justify liking certain things for themselves. – ImperatorSage 5 years ago

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