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"Guilty pleasure" books you've enjoyed.....

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  • "Guilty pleasure" books you've enjoyed.....

    ....but would rather die than admit it. :)

    Born from of a mention in a different topic....this thread is where we can admit to the world some of the books we've -- against all better critical judgement -- actually enjoyed. It can be a widely-panned book you thought deserved a better fate, or it can be an unprepossessing tome that, for some reason, you really enjoyed. Of course, you'll want to tell us why you liked the book, or why it surprised you.....

    I'll start, with one of those latter otherwise-unremarkable works.

    Back when I was in school they used to publish these pulpy teen-oriented books under the banner of the Scholastic Book Service, and offer them to kids in school at a reasonable price. I picked one up called Lords of Atlantis because it was a sci-fi book and I was a sci-fi nut. It was allegedly written by the suspiciously unknown and amorphously alliterative "Wallace West" (almost certainly a house-name or a pseudonym). Uh-huh. Suuuure. It had a dire, pulpy-looking cover, too.

    But, darnit, I thought it was a kewl book! The Mediterranean Sea had been dammed at the Pillars of Hercules to form a vast valley, and the highly-advanced civilization (facing being cut off from their Martian brethren) used a huge tower to beam power throughout their empire. There were coy references to Egypt and the Pharoahs, Mount Olympus and the Greco-Roman pantheon, etc.

    And of course, at the end of the book (I just KNEW it had to happen), the Great Dam is destroyed and there's a flood that makes Gormenghast look like a light shower. :D

    Hmm, I'll save my "I liked a book everyone else panned" post for later. :)

  • #2
    The Gorean cycle

    I liked the adventures set on the world of Gor, the hero this time being Tarl Cabot. Unfortunately, the world or should that be writer, John Norman (was Lange) had a penchant for slavery and would extol us for hours on the pros never cons of it.

    However, as the basis of his writing style was Herodotus and I have a few degrees in the topic, the books were thoroughly entertaining, well researched and damn good yarns.

    But I'm not sorry for having read them however unpopular they were.
    "What do you think you're doing? This is a closed set!"


    • #3
      Here's a guilty pleasure about which I feel no real guilt:
      Tanith Lee's Kill the Dead. It isn't a great book, and
      I could find fault here and there with the prose, but the
      basic idea, the way she worked it out, the characters, and
      the imagery all caught my fancy. I've read a few other early
      books by her, and she never succeeded in entertaining
      me to the same degree. The early books are hit-and-miss,
      to say the least.

      I haven't read anything by her more recent than the short
      stories in Red as Blood (another guilty pleasure). Thus,
      I can't comment on her more recent work.


      If you've read a fair number of books, you're bound to have
      more than a few guilty pleasures. I could make a very long
      list, but that's enough for now. ;)



      • #4
        My experience with Patricia McKillip is (I suspect) much like LSN's with Tanith Lee. I'm not sure if I should feel guilty, even though much of it is relatively lightweight and a little predictable. However, the only derivation in her work is connected to fairy tales (thankfully not more Tolkien), and she often writes complex characters and uses interesting imagery.

        Having said all that, I loved her Riddle Master of Hed trilogy when I was much younger, and recently re-read it and enjoyed it. Perhaps the biggest reason I would call it a guilty pleasure is that it was originally published by an imprint for "young readers."

        Maybe I'm still young at heart sometimes? :D


        • #5
          "Horny Studs Ranch", Author: anonymous

          An all-time, ever-to-be-forgotten classic of unintentional humour (well, actually I bet the author was sniggering all the way...). The pace doesn't let up from its snappy opening line
          Mike was a Marine. A spit-and-polish Marine.
          to its no-holds barred triumphant, dare I say it: orgasmic finale with the arrival of the local football team to the ranch in question 8O .

          An art-free William Burroughs without the smack and giant centipedes :!:

          Nb. You won't find it on Amazon
          \" ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell


          • #6

            I really liked tolkien but shhhh! don't tell anyone. MM


            • #7
              Mikey_C's listed "guilty pleasure" (actually, his description wasn't devoid of a certain
              gleefulness) raises the possibility of two completely different categories for discussion:

              1) the book that's so bad it produces laughter, and
              2) really bad titles.

              Whole new threads could be manufactured from these 2 topics. Especially
              #2), where one could provide "genuine" titles that are bad, as well as
              really bad titles that you've thought of, but not yet seen employed. :twisted:

              A quick sample of some genuine bad titles:
              - The Virgin and the Swine, by Evangeline Walton

              This was the original title of The Island of the Mighty. Lin Carter and Betty Ballantine
              changed the title when they reprinted the book, because they felt the original title was
              bad in a suggestive sort of way. Carter at the time said something about how it reminded
              them of an Erskine Caldwell novel about illicit love on a Georgia pig farm. :lol:

              - Jesus on Mars, by Phillip Jose Farmer

              This sounds like something one would exclaim to express incredulity, as in,
              "Jesus H. Christ on a bicycle!" Possible use: "I can't believe some damned fool
              of a publisher gave Piers Anthony money for another stinking Xanth novel!
              Jesus on Mars!"

              The possibilities seem endless.


              • #8
                A real guilty pleasure to admit to here: Robert A. Heinlein. 8O

                The stories and novels are wildly uneven, and if some of his political and social
                pronouncements are examined closely, they start to seem alarmingly simplistic,
                but he could tell a good story.

                I've always liked the "Future History" stories that comprise the omnibus
                The Past Through Tomorrow, even though not everything in the book
                exhibits the same level of, ah, "competence." One novel in the book,
                The Man Who Sold the Moon, is almost a microcosm of what he did
                well and did badly at the same time. Another, The Children of Methuselah,
                is colorful as only the pulps of the time seemed to be, although it seems slightly
                out-of-control at times, and some of the parts seem poorly integrated. The
                earlier version of the book (before he rewrote it in 1958) is less xenophobic
                and (I think) more humane. For all that, it amuses me.

                I also liked the novel from 1956, Double Star.

                This doesn't mean I'm unaware of the defects of these books. I noticed them a long
                time ago. Even so, I liked them. I don't think I'm liable to recommend them to
                others, though. Amidst the gold, there's a bit too much clay -- or
                perhaps it only looks like clay, and we should check the odor for the
                presence of something less mentionable in a public forum. :lol:



                • #9
                  My favorite series was the "My teacher is an alien" series. I cant remember the Authors name, i think it was Bruce Coville. All through Elementary school i read those books. It seemed like every Time the "Scholastic Books" newsletter came out there was a new one. Remember the book fairs they had at school when you were a kid? Oh man, those were great.


                  • #10
                    My first ever Lovecraft book was a Scholastic Books edition of "Shadow Over Innsmouth". An entirely 'guilt-free' pleasure, I must stress!
                    \" ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell


                    • #11
                      Well I enjoyed Clan of The Cave Bear by Jean M Auel and I liked the first 3 sequels too but even I couldn't enjoy the most recent book in the series The Shelers of Stone which is probably the worst book I've ever read.


                      • #12
                        That was me that just posted, I wasn't loged in. :oops:


                        • #13
                          Someone finally published a translation of the "The Slayers" in English. I read a fan translation online a few years ago. It's kind of cool to read the book, Lina's internal dialog is hillarious.


                          • #14
                            Wow, Scholastic Book Service printed Lovecraft? I'm surprised some PTA somewhere didn't get upset about that.

                            Hell, maybe they did. :(

                            McTalbayne, not only do I remember those book fairs in school, but that's where I got that copy of Lords of Atlantis. Those were fun! If those aren't held anymore.....well......this might explain a lot about kids in the country today, who usually DO know how to read....but don't bother to read for pleasure.

                            Robert Heinlein is a guilty pleasure I don't feel too guilty about. Sure, his worldview was pretty simple, and largely reflected the times. He wrote some dreck (Number of the Beast was pretty lousy, for example) but his old juvenile books, like Starman Jones and The Rolling Stones, were a lot of fun to read as a young teenager and helped hone my interest in science and science fiction. Some of his works, like The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, stand up well to virtually any criticism.

                            Doc, I liked the Riddle-Master series also, but I have to say the very beginning of the first book is one of the most confusing starts to a novel I've ever read. :)

                            Mikey_C's listed "guilty pleasure" (actually, his description wasn't devoid of a certain
                            gleefulness) raises the possibility of two completely different categories for discussion:

                            1) the book that's so bad it produces laughter, and
                            2) really bad titles.
                            I'm racking my brain trying to think of some bad titles. Wheeee....


                            3) Books that come well-recommended but that you felt were a colossal waste of time, or you just thought were lousy compared to the hype.

                            I can think of one: Glen Cook's Swordbearer. Not only does he have a soul-stealing sword in it (golly, wonder where that came from), but there's one spot where, in the middle of a fantasy novel, he instantly drops the reader out of his/her willing suspension of disbelief by invoking a bunch of demons "at a demons' convention." Suddenly I'm confronted with images of these demons checking into hotel rooms, whistling for taxis, and trying to fill the hotel elevator shafts with water using the firehoses. (Err, sorry, that last was the Shriners. :)) (Yes, really.)

                            Bleah. Although my friends who had recommended Cook to me swore up and down that Swordbearer was an anomaly and that I should give him a second chance, I never did. I kinda felt guilty about that, as Glen's a nice guy; for years he sold books -- including many UK imports! -- at SF conventions.


                            • #15
                              More seriously than my last contribution (which I will freely admit to anyone in (im)polite company!), my true "guilty pleasure" was that I was told off for enjoying CS Lewis's "Cosmic Trilogy" by my English lit lecturer in Sixth Form .

                              I can't stand "Narnia" (never read it as a kid and it's indigestably preachy for adults), but enjoyed the sf, particularly "That Hideous Strength". Best thing was it turned me towards Lewis's influences - David Lindsay and Charles Williams. Bless the old don!
                              \" ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell