Thursday 29 Sep 2016

Diet Fiction
Jennifer Flaten

Here is my deep, dark secret. I grew up reading Nancy Drew. I loved those books. Heck, I wanted to be Nancy Drew. She was smart, independent, drove a convertible and solved mysteries. At 10, I thought she was the epitome of cool.

I really think those books were the start of my life long love of reading.

These days, anytime I spot a Nancy Drew book on the library shelf, I have to smile. So, imagine my surprise when I found out that many people refer to Nancy Drew books as Diet Fiction.

Apparently, Diet fiction isn't a good thing. The most annoying thing about this label is that English teachers and Librarians are the ones who are most likely to refer to the books as diet fiction.

Yep, Librarians and English teachers, the same people who are supposed to be fostering a love of reading in our youngsters, are snippily criticizing these youth orientated books.

This doesn't seem like a good way to encourage kids to read, does it.

Tell me what is wrong with enjoying what you are reading. Heaven forbid someone has fun reading! My god, imagine that, reading for pleasure. Instead, of slogging through some obscure tome, that somebody claims is a "masterpiece".

Nancy Drew isn't the only book accused of being diet fiction. The Sweet Valley High series and those of its ilk are also on the list. I am relatively sure that diet fiction also encompasses romance novels and science fiction. To book snobs, these books are the literary equivalent of a Twinkie.

At this point, I will admit I have no use for Romance novels myself, but it doesn't offend me that people read them. I don't think the people who read them are in anyway "lesser" readers then those that plow through War and Peace.

Some people want scathing social commentary and some people want a quick roll in the hay. Either way, the only thing that matters is that people are sitting down to read.

We have art snobs; wine snobs, fashion snobs and now, god help us, books snobs.

Everyone should be pleased that there are books that engage young girls and boys to read. Sheesh, adults are forever complaining about today's youth. How they do nothing but surf the Internet and text message each other. I would think adults would be overjoyed to see their kids reading.

Nope, instead they complain abut kids reading light books. If everyone read only great literary works, no one would read. Reading tastes are subjective, just like everything else. Your classic is not necessarily my classic.

Do you remember the furrow caused by the Harry Potter books? All those people upset about the "black magic" and "evil" in the books. They missed the point completely. This is, that someone wrote a book that kids and adults liked.

In fact, people didn't just like this book, they loved it, were rabid for it. There were people willing to stand in line for hours to purchase the book the minute it became available. When is the last time that happened?

Maybe, the latest Xbox release or Hannah Montana concert tickets draw lines, but never a book.

Whatever your opinion of the Harry Potter series you have to greatly admire its power. Any book that can capture kid's imagination and keep them reading all the way up to page 500 deserves the classic label.

There are so many spectacularly bad books out there. Books touted as masterpieces that are anything but a masterpiece. Take for example, the James Frey book "Million Little Pieces".

A book purported to be the tale of his struggle with addiction. It was hailed as a masterpiece and proclaimed an instant "classic". It even got the nod from Oprah.

Turns out he lied, he later admitted he made up most of the story. This person pretty much had one over on everyone. Some masterpiece, a piece of work is more like it.

That is what is so great about good old diet fiction. It never pretends to be more then it is. Sure, maybe you can't get together and analyze the true meaning of Nancy Drew's trademark neck scarf, but at least you know the book is a work of fiction from page one.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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