A Secret Addiction to Popular Fiction
By Sidney Heyward

As a child, the highlight of my Sunday morning was found in the glossy pages of the funny papers. Sitting in my mother's or father's lap, I would listen to the story accompanying the bright illustrations with delight. But one day my mother informed me that she would only be reading me two comics; if I wanted to know what words accompanied the other strips, I would have to learn to read them myself. And that was the beginning of my love affair with reading.
Never a task for me, my friends would always be shocked at my love of a good book. When my friends wouldn't touch a book without pictures, I would relish the rainy days when I could curl up with a chapter book. I really thought this made me cool-- thank god I was nave enough not to realize just how sad my obsession could be: many a night my mom would have to take my book from me when she found me huddled under the covers with a flashlight. And would have to move it into her room when I had taken it back from the hallway when she turned off her light.
I always have had a way of getting lost in a good novel. The types of books I read have changed over the years, but still I read in the same manner. My head clears of everything that happens in my own, often hectic, world to immerse myself in the book's world; reading is my yoga, my meditation. But this total immersion has caused problems as of late. I cannot make the commitment to a novel that I cannot put down. Thank god for short stories: they give me my hit without keeping me up all night, turning page after page into the early morning.
But occasionally, I find myself with the luxury of enough time to read a real book, guilt-free, or simply must do so. My choice of novel... Sporadic. Sometimes it's literature, sometimes a spy novel, sometimes a mystery. I read the Harry Potter books when the bookstore is empty and no one sees me buy them. I seem to find myself mostly reading a genre of books I like to call "Young Women Trying to Get Their Shit Together." Bridget Jones Diary, Confessions of a Shopaholic, A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing, these are the books that my friends suggest to me. These are the books I find myself reading.
Like any genre, there are certain common charachteristics to all of these books. The main character is age 22-30. She is not an ugly girl, but nor is she a beauty. She has a dead end job. Her friends are few and often not supportive enough. Ditto her family. She never has a boyfriend. She is searching through the fog for the path to the rest of her life, but somehow keeps getting lost along the way.
By the end of the book, she has achieved two or more of the following: made herself over, found a good job, made better friends, reconciled with her family, found a man. In any case, the book ends on a note that suggests that she is finally on that path to the rest of her life. While reading these books, I find them humorous. But as that I am graduating in May and still have no job, etc., I think that they are adding to my own neuroses. And spy novels are out as well, with the impending conflict in the Middle East. So I guess I still have mystery novels. And I hear that the new Harry Potter is coming out soon.