ASHAMED LIONHave you ever been ashamed of a book you are reading? In an ideal world, we would not care what others may think of our book choices. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t judge others by what they are reading. Alas, it’s not an ideal world.

E-books have taken some of the fun out of travel if you’re one of those people who likes to pass judgment on your seatmate’s book and, by extension, his/her taste, IQ, profession and suitability as a spouse. With most travelers reading from Kindles, phones or computers, few clues are available for snarky speculation. E-books have created fewer opportunities for concluding that the adjacent male passenger reading A Brief History of Time is a divorced intellectual with a lot of time on his hands, socially ill at ease but only too happy to share lots of not-so-fun facts with you if given in the chance.

A couple of times a month, people who know I’m a writer apologize for the quality of their recreational reading. Of course, I am always magnanimous, assuring them that I, too, read “trash” for fun, reading is a good thing and nothing to be ashamed of…blah, blah, blah. I thought I was telling the truth until last week.

On the long cross-country flight from Washington, DC to San Francisco, I realized I was trying to hide the title of my paperback from the prying eyes of fellow passengers. Worse, I kept rehearsing in my head the explanation of why I was reading Bridget Jones’ Diary. The reason: I am trying to write a funny but poignant novel in the first person and want to see how author Helen Fielding developed multiple complex characters using only Bridget’s point of view.  The writer did an impressive job.

All of this useless angst has forced me to realize that the only way to overcome Book Shame is to flaunt it. So tomorrow, when I board the plane for the long return trip, I’m going to hold my head high and display for all to see and judge my latest reading project: Writing Fiction for Dummies.



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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