In Defense of Fluff
Monday, March 13, 2017
Well-written literature is a wonderful gift. There is nothing like closing the cover of a book and knowing you have read something truly great. Whether, for you, that is a Dickens novel or a modern classic that feeling is unmistakeable.
But sometimes you just want to read fluff. A cozy mystery, a Regency romance, a detective novel, chick lit, whatever your fluff of choice is, we all need it sometimes. But all too often, we feel like we need to apologize for it. "Well, I wouldn't usually read this but...." or "It was fun for what it is but...." There is always that "but", that implication that the fluff isn't good enough.
I am writing this in defense of fluff.
I am a firm believer that a bit of chocolate contributes to a well-balanced diet and that a bit of fluff is essential for the well-balanced reader. We all need to escape sometimes. We all are tired sometimes. We all occasionally want to retreat to our childhoods and read old favorites. We need to shut off our brains and read the story and not analyze the writing. Why do we apologize for that? If cozy mysteries set in an English village full of doddering spinsters and handsome vicars are your thing then read them and preach their wonders from the rooftops. And please, send them on to me when you are done. No, they may not be great literature but did the book engage your interest? Did it pull you into the story? Most important of all, did you enjoy it? If you answered yes, then it was worth reading.
There is a difference between poorly written books and fluff. I have less and less tolerance for poorly written books. If the writing is too pedestrian and I find myself editing the book as I go I am unlikely to read it. But that is not fluff. Fluff is just what it sounds like, light and fun and not too demanding. And there is a lot of well-written fluff out there.
Georgette Heyer is one of my favorite writers of fluff. Actually, she is what inspired this post. I read a review of one of her books--I can't remember where--and the whole thing was a disclaimer. "I don't read romances" Yet, the blogger enjoyed it. And in the comments, everyone else was saying "I don't read romances" yet they were going on to recommend other Heyer novels. So they do read romances. They feel it is something to be apologized for. Just don't. Don't apologize for reading Heyer and don't ever apologize for reading something you enjoyed.
Because that is why we read. We enjoy it. Of course, there are a lot of other benefits. We broaden our horizons, we develop empathy, we learn, but the main reason we read is because we love it. We love books. We love stories.
Sometimes, the stories we love are fluff and that is perfectly okay.
Preach its wonders from the rooftops.