Like a lot of you, I was fortunate enough to be raised in a household that didn’t censor my reading. Book banning was an alien concept to me. While I admit this was mostly a good thing (being the only girl on the block with easy access to Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask did make my house a popular hangout for my more sheltered friends), but it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.
Face it, it’s hard to enjoy a good, naughty thrill when what you’re doing isn’t considered all that naughty by your parental units.
While most of my buddies were well acquainted with the deliciously guilty pleasure of reading books under their covers, or in their closets, by the warm glow of a flashlight, I could read whatever caught my interest right out in the open. Without the necessity of covers, closets, and flashlights, the Guilty Pleasure Factor was sorely lacking. And without the GPF, reading could at times get to be rather…well, humdrum. Tame. Downright yawn-worthy.
Now, where, I ask you, is the teenage fun in that? Frankly, I was a little envious of my friends’ forbidden fruit.
So, being an excellent fantasizer, I sometimes pretended I wasn’t permitted to read whatever I wanted. That I was an intellectually oppressed reader, downtrodden like my poor friends, because that allowed for so much more angstiness than the reality of living in my rather progressive home. When you’re a young teen, angsty is way more fun than not-angsty. It’s a good outlet for all those raging hormones.
I’d smuggle books into the house, and hide them between my mattress and boxspring (yeah – so original), only digging them out in the still of night to peer at them with furtive eyes. (An early indication of my penchant for acting? *cough* Maybe.) Let me tell you, nothing spices up a Mary Stewart or Victoria Holt novel like pretending you’ll be grounded for life if you’re caught reading it.
I know, I know. There’s nothing remotely objectionable about Stewart or Holt. But all the truly risque stuff I’d gotten hold of by then was so clinical it was boring. At least Mary and Victoria knew how to weave a great Gothic romance, with just enough suggestion to set my fevered imagination ablaze. I told you – I was fantasizing. Work with me here.
Holt’s The Legend of the Seventh Virgin was a particular favorite. Sure, it’s mild by today’s standards, but, oh, that title! It was just made for sneak-reading.
I have to admit, it kind of warms my heart to think that someday someone might be sneak-reading In a Fix. Or at least pretending to.
Tell me, did you have to resort to sneak-reading as a kid, pretend or otherwise? If so, what were some of your favorite sneaky reads?