I have friends who are addicted to a TV show called “Walking Dead.” They are smart people with busy lives, so I don’t judge them–in public.
Sometimes we all need a little escapism, and they keep describing some crossbow tough guy Daryl who’s actually a sensitive caring soul; he seems to be doing the trick for them.
Yet bibliophiles are not so different. Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that Jack and I are bemused by customers who simultaneously buy Christian romances and Patricia Cornwells, but we also get it. As a friend who works with criminal court cases involving the abuse of children once said, “If I can read something worse than what I see every day, it reminds me there’s still room to look down.”
In fact, friends addicted to “Walking Dead” run heavily to academics working with the next generation of students. Perhaps we’ll stop that line of speculation now. But the fact remains that people enjoy reading about the train wrecks of others, mostly because we like to remind ourselves that things could be worse than we know they are. Gives us hope. Or cynical laughter.
Sometimes, in the dark spots, those two things aren’t that different, y’know?
We greet a lot of female customers sporting casual business attire and sensible, low-maintenance haircuts, who come into our bookshop and smile at us without saying much. They browse for 20 minutes, and leave with nine Ann Rules and a Karen Kingsbury. We know from previous conversations what kinds of jobs they do. Bless them for it, and we will keep stocking the shelves with those nasty paperbacks full of train wrecks that reassure them there’s still room to drop.
Is it reassuring? Well, maybe it’s like comfort food. A Kraft Mac and Cheese box supper served warm on a plate might have repercussions later, but it feels good going down. And it gives us the strength to get out there and do what must be done.
Go, girls. We’re rooting for you. Karen Slaughter and Dean Koontz will be waiting when you need them.