I am probably not going to read Fifty Shades of Grey. I have this thing about books that have reached a certain level of mania, i.e. Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, etc. I realize I may be missing out on some quality literature here–certainly in the case of Mr. Potter–but there is just something about a series getting that popular that just completely turns me off. Maybe I could read them all in 30 years and talk about how great they are and all of you will be like OMG that was so 30 years ago.
What I am doing is trying to read books outside my comfort zone, my comfort zone being your standard chick lit about wealthy socialites prancing around Manhattan/LA/London (stuff like Chasing Harry Winston by Laura Weisberger and the Confessions of a Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella) as well as summer romances straight out of the Young Adult section (huge fan of Sarah Dessen). So far I think I’ve done pretty well branching out to “serious” chick lit, if such a thing exists, from my sister’s collections (The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing and The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank), “boy humor” from my boyfriend’s collection (In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd), some truly bizarre stuff (The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold) and even romance novels from my mom’s collection (I know, ew Mom). The first of these is romance novels is Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and heaven help me I think I’m hooked.
I liked Breathing Room from the second I saw the word “Tuscany” on the back cover summary. The heroine, famed psychologist/lecturer Dr. Isabel Favor, flees there after losing her fiance/job/reputation all at once because that obviously always happens and there is obviously always a friend who happens to not be using her Tuscan villa at the present moment so why doesn’t she just go recover there? And then there is obviously a very bad boy named Lorenzo who makes her feel things she always thought she was against and also happens to be a famous movie star and now her hair is curly instead of straight!
I agree with the rest of the world that these types of novels are extremely silly when it comes to talking about sex: “He stroked the sensitive wet spot between her legs”, “She entered that place only he could take her”, blah blah blah. Some of these phrases seriously make me cringe; I mean, just say it! HE FINGERED HER! SHE HAD AN ORGASM! But the thing that’s not silly about this book, and about most books in general I find, is how Phillips describes Lorenzo’s feelings for Isabel. I am such a sucker when it comes to an author really letting you into the guy’s head and all he is thinking about is this beautiful woman he loves but doesn’t know he loves and doesn’t really want to love but loves anyway because of the way she bites her nails or the way one piece of hair falls on her face or something equally miniscule yet extremely romantic, and how he wants her so unbelievably badly and has to have her this instant but it’s not just about sex because he genuinely cares about her…I mean, isn’t that just nice to read about? Don’t we all want someone to think about us that way?
While Breathing Room is definitely your standard good-girl-turns-bad-boy-good beach read, I highly recommend it. Especially to readers such as myself who like to pretend they are not into romance novels but are sort of curious about them. I am most likely going to read more books by Phillips, but the next stop on my journey outside my comfort zone is My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki. Stay tuned.