We spend every Thanksgiving with my in-laws and I’m asked to bring turkey cookies. No, they aren’t made with turkey, just decadent butter cookies shaped that way. The mother-in-law claims it’s because the nephews ask for them. In truth, it’s the adults I see nibbling at them throughout the day, especially my mother-in-law’s sister. Last year she came clean, saying she looks forward to them, her guilty pleasure.
As I rolled out the dough, it got me thinking. These cookies and fantasy have a lot in common. Like the mother-in-law and the cookies, most people assume fantasy is just for kids. Not all fantasy books are for children and adults can enjoy even those that are. I’ll admit to loving many books geared toward young adult and juvenile.
I know being a geek is cool now days, but when I was younger reading fantasy or scifi pretty much torched your social life. Trekkies and Tolkien fans were looked upon as a social caste all their own. Even the lower echelons of high school society looked down on the readers of scifi and fantasy. Funny thing is many of those same bashers had fired a laser or yielded a sword of power. Like my mother-in-law’s sister and the cookies, those books were their guilty pleasure.
Both scifi and fantasy have become more mainstream over the years. It’s okay to carry one around in your pocket or read them in public. I have to say some of this acceptance is due to another bastard genre, romance. Romance comes in many flavors. It has introduced things like the paranormal or futuristic to readers who would have never picked them up otherwise.
If you look closely you will find touches of the fantastic in many genres. You probably just didn’t recognize it at the time. From scientific discoveries and futuristic settings to myth and lore, all veiled in the literary or mainstream.
As an example how many of you have read a book where the main character, a dead little girl tells her story? To me this book borders on the fantastic but is shelved in mainstream. What about all you Stephen King lovers? Anne Rice? Alice Hoffman? How about Heather Graham or Nora Roberts?
Browse the shelves of your local library or bookstore. It’s no longer contained, caged in one section. Instead it’s spreading, giving readers what they want and need. From a trip into the farthest reaches of the galaxy to sexy monsters and super heroes, an escape from reality even if it is just for three hundred pages.
Some will continue to hide these books behind paper bag covers or the guise of another genre, never admitting their trips to these other worlds. But that’s okay. Sometimes we need to keep things to ourselves, making it special. A sweet escape from reality, our guilty pleasure.
This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for all the authors who have made my not-so-guilty pleasure possible.