A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Guilty Pleasures — Pony Books for Grown Ups by Sheena Wilkinson

‘Guilty pleasures’ suggests something illicit – passing round Jilly Cooper romances under the desk at school. Yes, I was that generation. But I also, as a teenager, had a reputation to uphold – intellectual and bookish. I couldn’t be seen to read Jilly Cooper. I was obliged to cock a snook, and turn another page of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.


The books I could never get rid of

I did read her, of course, at home, in secret. Well, Riders and Polo were just pony books for grown ups and I loved pony books. Pony books were my friends. And despite being intellectual and bookish, I had never managed to get of rid of such childhood friends as the Chalet School, Swallows and Amazons and quite a lot of Enid Blyton. (I threw out The Famous Five, but not Malory Towers. Malory Towers is with me yet.)


The books that started me off on the road to Jilly Cooper


UnknownThe thing about guilty book pleasures – well, any pleasures, I suppose, is how subjective they are. A few years ago all my friends were confessing to reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I didn’t – not because I am such a snob these days (well, only a bit), but because I read two pages of the first one and found it – for me – unreadable. Just not my kind of book.

For me, the very best kind of book – I am rereading one now, Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life (rereading is one of my guilty pleasures) – is one I literally can’t put down, walk round the house reading, read while I’m hovering and cooking and have to leave downstairs when I go up to my study or nothing would ever get done. My favourite books tend to be well-written, at the accessible end of literary, with characters I care about. Sometimes, as with Life After Life, they do interesting and demanding things with structure and ask questions about the nature of literature and art. These are books I am conscious of as books, books that make me aspire to be a better writer myself, books that make me see life differently.

And sometimes I just want a good yarn.

Unknown-1.jpegI don’t feel guilty about anything I choose to read now. Doing a PhD which partly involved analysing girls’ school stories cured me of that. Also being 49 and really not giving a hoot what anyone thinks. Having said that, when I used to own quite a few Jilly Coopers, they never lived downstairs where visitors could see them. In one clear-out, they all went to the charity shop but then, one particularly stressful time I needed an old friend and Jilly – or rather her characters and delicious world – were exactly the old friends I needed. I downloaded Riders on my kindle and read in public places, looking, I expect, exactly as if I were reading something impressive and experimental. (Maybe I do give a slight hoot about what people think, after all.) I was going to stop there, except I remembered Rivals being really rather good, and then I needed to know what happened and so…


There is a folder on my kindle called Guilty Pleasures. You can guess what it contains.



About sheenawriter68

I write books, drink tea, and sing.


This entry was posted on June 25, 2018 by and tagged , , , , .

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