Guilty Pleasures

Me (age 7) and our Siberian Husky Tanya. We read Charlotte’s Web together that summer.

This post first appeared on my former blog March 7, 2011.

We all have them.  Come on, admit it.  Somewhere in your past is a story—be it book or film—that you love so much, it’s a guilty pleasure.

Guilty pleasures are stories you return to again and again.  They lift you when you’re feeling down or comfort you when you’re sick or blue.  They prepare you fight back when life has dumped on you.  They’re a welcome interruption when life is screamin’ by you.

With books, I tend to think of them as “keepers.”  These are the faded, stained and tattered books we will never part with.  For me, the keepers includes titles by Elswyth Thane, Robert Lawson, Rudyard Kipling, E.B. White, Tom Clancy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Georgette Heyer and Kathleen Woodiwiss.

With movies, well, any movie that I stop to watch over and over is a prime suspect.  My guilty pleasure movies?  Any Harry Potter film, nearly any Disney animated classic, Sense and Sensibility and, of all things, The Fifth Element.

Yeah, you could say I have eclectic tastes.

But WHY is a story a guilty pleasure?  Where’s the guilt?  For me, it’s because I consider storytelling to be my profession.  By the time I’ve read a book or watched a movie a half dozen times, there’s very little left for me to learn from that story.  It becomes pure entertainment value.  And I always feel I should be out “broadening my horizons.”  I mean, if I’m going to be entertained, shouldn’t I at least seek something new?

All logic disappears when I’m flipping channels and I find The Fifth Element.  I can now enter that movie at almost any point.  I don’t have to follow the plot—I *know* the plot and I know how the story ends.

Where, then, is the point in watching it again?

For me, it’s the characters, the situation, the careful revelation of secrets.  It’s the nuances in gestures, specific tidbits of dialogue.  With movies, it’s often action sequences or the quest that pulls me in.  With books, it’s because I’ve grown to love the characters as if they were part of my family.

So what books or movies would you rate among your Guilty Pleasures?  And what draws you to that story again and again?

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