But there are a lot of reasons to read other than intellectual elevation. Relaxation is one; keeping up with what everyone else is reading is another. Zoya by Danielle Steel Possibly the one actually kind of interesting Steel novel, it follows a minor member of the Romanov family to exile in America. She is a poor ballerina in France for awhile, then marries a soldier who dies. Then she marries rich, then watches as the fortune crumbles with the Great Depression. Along the way one of her kids gets super-spoiled.
Rinse, repeat, forget completely about afterwards, but then you will finally have read one of her novels like probably half of the American population and it will have been a relatively painless experiment.
My Sweet Audrina by V. The weirdest, trashiest V. Andrews is not Flowers — even the later books in the series, which are far weirder than the first — but rather My Sweet Audrina, in which a seven-year-old with a serious brain-fog problem is raised to replace a dead elder sister. Normal is only ordinary; mediocre. Life belongs to the rare, exceptional individual who dares to be different. And then charts the disintegration of their love and sex lives.
The precursor to Bridget Jones, except apparently quite a bit braver. Scruples by Judith Krantz Scruples is set in Los Angeles, and the title refers to the name of the proto-Kitson boutique that saves her life. Do you really need more? Which, by the way, is chock full of long descriptions of Pleasures, considerations of the import of Pleasures, and segues like this one: Suddenly he felt an urge to do more than compare skin tones.
It pleased him to know that if he wanted to share pleasures with her right them, she would be willing. There was comfort in that too. The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe The author took a journalistic approach to writing this young-women-climb-the-publishing-ladder epic, interviewing over 50 women.
It enjoyed a brief revival when peak Mad Men madness was on. The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins At last — trash written by a man! About the heir to an aviation fortune, whose eccentricities bear a strong resemblance to those of Howard Hughes.
It should have been inscribed on the walls of a public lavatory. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann Susann based her s pulp classic on her own experiences as an aspiring actress, which was apparently a romp of pill-popping and porn-starring in Hollywood and New York. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough It occurs to me that this priest-lust epic set in the Australian countryside was both more scandalous and less icky to think about before the recent wave of pedophilia scandals in the church.
The bird with the thorn in its breast, it follow an immutable law; it is driven by it knows not what to impale itself, and die singing. At the very instant the thorn enters there is no awareness in it of the dying to come; it simply sings and sings until there is not the life left to utter another note. But we, when we put the thorns in our breasts, we know. And still we do it. Still we do it. It tells the love story of Peter and Charlie, whose affair begins in college.
But Charlie is always reluctant to commit. Because her mother died an early age, she never had a maternal figure to help her with female problems, and grew up to be ignorant of her beauty and sexuality. It also spawned a sequel: Riders by Jilly Cooper Sex and British horse people. Delta of Venus by Anais Nin Per the author herself: At the time we were all writing erotica at a dollar a page, I realized that for centuries we had had only one model for this literary genre—the writing of men.
I was already conscious of a difference between the masculine and feminine treatment of sexual experience. Women, I thought, were more apt to fuse sex with emotion, with love, and to single out one man rather than be promiscuous. This became apparent to me as I wrote the novels and the Diary, and I saw it even more clearly when I began to teach.
For this reason I long felt that I had compromised my feminine self. I put the erotica aside. Rereading it these many years later, I see that my own voice was not completely suppressed.
I finally decided to release the erotica for publication be- cause it shows the beginning efforts of a woman in a world that had been the domain of men. But once installed, her doppelganger discovers that mimicry is not as easy as it looks. But we hear you, Georgette Heyer fans , but she was a big deal in her own time, principally an author of historical romances. Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins Jackie Collins made her career with this book, rumored to be only a very loosely fictionalized account of several people in Hollywood.
Bling by Erica Kennedy All about the underbelly of the hip-hop world, and a delicious page turner I read in under a day in a park recently. Comes the Blind Fury by John Saul Horror nerds have always found much to read in the lower ends of the book trade, and one of my favorites as a kid was this book by John Saul. A bunch of strangers heh are brought together by maladies that turn out to be linked to extraterrestrial forces.
David Foster Wallace taught it to his students. What greater excuse do you need? Penned by a group of journalists frustrated with the success of the pulpy bestseller, the book has only the loosest of plots and is chock full of sex scenes of every kind imaginable.
Naturally, it sold as well as the tricksters behind it thought it would. Completely racist, too, of course. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon Big, strong, strapping Scots. The Stand by Stephen King The King novel which seems to be enjoying the biggest resurgence in interest lately is actually my other favorite, IT.
They botched the miniseries, but I call on HBO to take the thing on. Shogun by James Clavell In my opinion, the direct equivalent to bodice-rippers is the giant Great-Man historical sagas like Shogun, which essentially express male virility myths through their conquer and control of other people.
Also because of the unintentional comedy factor in lines like this one: The folds of her three gossamer kimonos sighed open and revealed the misted underskirt that enhanced her loins.
He had written what he thought was a novel railing against the anti-labor-union movement in the South; they saw only the numerous sex scenes. It of course instantly became a bestseller. And the life of Beatrice Sparks , who wrote it, could be its own novel. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett Kind of crazy that in one sense these books are power-struggle sagas about architecture.
And as far as I know, out of print. Hawaii by James A. Michener And we end on another Great-Man epic. And he writes quite cleanly, himself.