Many critics do a grave injustice to easy-reading books, calling them barely literate escapism (aka ‘fluff’, ‘trash’, or ‘popular fiction’). Being an avid reader since the age of four, I feel qualified to champion easy-readers everywhere.
Here’s the thing. Whenever I want a heavy-duty educational reading experience, be it literary, history, biology, quantum physics, or anything else, I don’t turn to an easy-reader. But if I’m looking for a carefully-crafted book that distracts me from my troubles, provides a smooth-flowing, thought provoking, and enjoyable reading experience, hooks me on the first page, holds my attention until the last word, and leaves me begging for more, I choose an easy-reader every time.
Many readers believe that if a book is easy to read, it must also be easy to write. This is oh, so wrong, and I speak from painful experience. It takes substantial effort, not to mention sweat, tears, chocolate, and the occasional stiff drink to produce an easy-reader. The author must possess a skill level that can only be acquired through years of practice in order to combine clear prose with a compelling concept, flowing plotline, realistic dialogue, protagonists with enough flaws to make them engaging, and badass villains with enough humanity to make them credible, all the time staying true to the writer’s ‘voice’.
An author friend, Linda Lou White, recently wrote some words on the topic of easy-reading-books:
“I want my books to entertain and be remembered as fun and ‘easy’ reads. Trust me, no one ever says, ‘Gee, this was a fun and complicated read!’ To be fun, the book has to feel like it was easy to read.”
Like Linda Lou, I, too, strive to write easy-to-read books that entertain and relax. I love helping readers to escape their troubles for a short time, even to laugh a little.
If that is escapism, please bring it on.
For those of us who enjoy diving into the fictional world of an easy-reader, I offer a quote from Linda Lowell:
“Think about this the next time you hear someone dismiss what they (or, usually, other folks!) read as ‘escapism.’ Existentialists escape into their fictional world. We escape into ours. The fact that our world feels good and theirs feels bad doesn’t mean theirs is always more valuable, much less more intelligent: I have known many intelligent people who need to be reminded of the possibility of joy; I have known no intelligent people who need to be reminded of the reality of despair. Some things are worth escaping from. Despair is definitely one of them.”
So please don’t dismiss those easy-reading books. They make the world a better place. IMHO.