Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

Guilty Pleasures!

On Saturday 1st August, Hannah’s Bookshelf was all about guilty pleasures – the books we love, even though we know they’re not quite Literature-with-a-Capital-L. As promised, this post includes a list of all the books I talked about in the show. And yes – they are all recommendations. In fact, as the show went on I started to get cross with myself for even calling them ‘guilty’ pleasures – I don’t feel guilty at all for enjoying these books!

northanger abbey

I started off the show by talking a bit about the history of ‘guilty’ reading pleasures, and the type of books that we’re told we ‘shouldn’t’ read if we want to be taken seriously. Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey has a heroine (Catherine Morland) who engages in such ‘guilty’ reading, and the book includes a list of seven ‘horrid’ novels that many readers believed were so sensational, they must be Austen’s own invention. Catherine’s horrid novels were not fictional, though, as the titles were tracked down and republished in the 1960s.

The novels are: Castle of Wolfenbach (by Eliza Parsons); Clermont (by Regina Maria Roche); The Mysterious Warning, a German Tale (by Eliza Parsons); The Necromancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest (by ‘Ludwig Flammenberg’); The Midnight Bell (by Francis Lathom); The Orphan of the Rhine (by Eleanor Sleath); Horrid Mysteries (by the Marquis de Grosse). The first six titles are available in modern editions from Valancourt Books, with Horrid Mysteries due to be released later this year.

Next up, I talked about the titles on my own guilty pleasures reading list. As I said, I don’t actually feel guilty about liking these books. They are all titles I enjoyed reading and, in some cases, rereading. If you’d like to hear more about these books and why I chose them for this list, you can listen again to the show on the player at the bottom of this post. And don’t forget to leave your comments – or your own selections – as well!

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

thorn birds

Set on a sheep station in the Australian outback, Colleen McCullough’s 1977 bestseller isn’t the sort of thing I normally read. But I can’t deny it – I was absolutely hooked from the first chapter. And yes – I did cry. Several times.

Sweet Valley High


I had a peculiar fascination with the Sweet Valley High series (created by Francine Pascal in 1983) as a pre-teen, and read many, many of the novels. I also read quite a few of the Sweet Valley Twins spin-off series as well. The cover shown here is from A Date With a Werewolf, part of the Horror in London mini-series, and you can read my more detailed blog post about this title here. As I mentioned on the show, one of the ghostwriters who worked on the series, Amy Boesky, has written a fascinating account of her time as a Sweet Valley High writer, which you can read here.

The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine

ghost town

What guilty pleasures list would be complete without a few vampires? Rachel Caine’s Morganville series (2006-2014) are, in my humble opinion, the best YA vampire books out there. Beginning with Glass Houses, the series has 15 books about Claire Danvers adventures in the vampire-run town of Morganville. I love this series so much that I haven’t yet read the last two books (Fall of Night and Daylighters), because I’m saving them as a treat. Oh – and I’m totally Team Myrnin.

The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

artemis fowl

Again, really not feeling very guilty for liking this one! Colfer’s series (2001-2012) about twisted young genius Artemis Fowl are often overlooked in favour of a certain boy wizard, and that seems like a crime to me. Described by the author as ‘Die Hard with fairies’, the eight Artemis Fowl books are a rattling trip through a biotech fairy realm, megalomaniac pixies, time travel, demon dimensions and mind control. But there’s a fair bit about friendship, family, growing up and loss in there too. My favourite in the series is The Opal Deception but only narrowly, as they’re all awesome.

To find out more about my guilty pleasures reading list – and my thoughts on why we describe some books as ‘guilty’ pleasures (as well as the problems of that definition) – you can listen again to the show here:

Hannah’s Bookshelf 01/08/15 by Hannah’s Bookshelf on Mixcloud


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