by Ian Doescher
Sometimes, I say that Stephen King is my guilty pleasure when it comes to reading. Sure, I read weighty stuff—I just, I’m proud to say, finished the 738-page biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (the same book that inspired the Broadway musical Hamilton). I read somewhere in the realm of 50 books each year, many of them full of edifying thoughts and challenging concepts, many of them furthering my education or giving me a new perspective on the human condition.
And some of them Stephen King books.
But here’s the thing: when I admit to people that I read Stephen King (and I read a lot of Stephen King lately), I usually feel like I have to explain myself. “Oh, it’s just for fun!” I say sheepishly.
But here’s the other thing: sometimes reading edifying books feels like a chore, but you know what never feels like a chore? Reading Stephen King. I love his books! They are plot-driven, exciting (and dark) page turners that can keep me occupied all day if I have the time. I wouldn’t have decided—as I did about a year ago—to read through all of his books if I didn’t like him a lot. (I’m still nowhere close; the man is prolific.)
When my oldest son started school, I remember asking his teacher if my son’s love of the Garfield comics was an okay thing for us to encourage. In other words, was it really reading, or should my spouse and I be pressing our son to read something more serious? His teacher assured us that hey, reading is reading, and as long as our son was reading it didn’t matter if it was Garfield or the New York Times or whatever.
That’s my perspective on reading as an adult. It doesn’t matter if it’s Stephen King or an award-winning biography of Alexander Hamilton—if you are reading, you are doing your brain a favor. So go ahead, treat yourself to something you love to read. Don’t feel like you have to read the big stuff—just read.
And tell me, in the comments, what your guilty pleasure books are!