Sandra, Mrs Book World to you, thinks she has Bloom Syndrome:
I think I have Bloom Syndrome: a condition in which the sufferer is unable to read any work of literature unless it is deemed Significant by Harold Bloom and which often results in the reader losing the will to live/read, crushed under the weight of canonical imperatives. The Syndrome develops gradually with the sufferer firstly accepting the notion that some books are better than others, placing undue emphasis on books which have won prizes or been favourably reviewed by The Clever People in newspapers. This begins the descent into genre deprecation in which all romance/chick lit is dismissed as unreadable, followed gradually by an inability to stomach any fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers and finally, mystery novels (these are the last genre to be abandoned because Clever People occasionally admit to reading them as a guilty pleasure). Thereafter sufferers quickly develop Classic monomania, a state of mind in which the literary tastes of the now emaciated reader have become so distorted that she can take only small doses of books endorsed by His Bloomness as being Works Of Genius. If left untreated, the Syndrome can result in a fatal loss of the love of reading.
Her suggested self-cure is reading "a book for pure pleasure irrespective of the name on the cover or what The Clever People think of it." But I don't understand this. I'm with Steve, I only ever read for pleasure, and I don't understand this talk of "guilty pleasures". Further, I don't understand how and why "engaging fully and thoughtfully" with a book is deemed to be synonymous with that book being difficult or arcance and the reading of it a source of displeasure:
Of course, this philistine drivel flows from the assumption that Great Art is a Platonic realm and good for you like a sermon, while "guilty pleasures" are what we'd all prefer to engage in instead. When I read litbloggers on this subject, for example the otherwise excellent LitKicks just the other day, it's like they've been taken over by the Nick Hornby hypnotoad. It isn't about snobbery but making the distinction between an ephemeral need and what is needed at the deepest level. How many times does it need saying? If a mass-market, blockbuster paperback offers to fulfil the latter need, then please tell us about it!
This is why I read litblogs, to find the books I need to read on a very personal level. As I don't read mass-market, blockbuster paperbacks, I'm open to convincing suggestions. I'm not a snob you see. I'm happy to "confess" that I watch lots of trash TV. Top Gear and Most Haunted are among my favourites (even though I don't drive or believe in ghosts). But if I'm going to write here about what I watch, I'd prefer to write about Eloge de l'Amour. Not because I'm "ashamed" of the others or because I'm trying to put up an intellectual front, but for the same reason restaurant critics write about eating the finest food and not about shitting it out.