Mmmm, interior fantasy lives

While he was here, Brad gave me three books to read. Two I plowed through quickly—Clifford Simak's Way Station and Salinger's Catcher In The Rye. The third, George R. R. Martin's A Game Of Thrones, is the one that's currently cracking me up.

With no exceptions, my friends are all voracious readers. It says less about them and more about my preferences in friends—I like being around people who understand my compulsion to read until my eyes cross. But we all have vastly different tastes in books. I'm generally considered the literary snob, though I don't mean to appear as such—I end up reading classics in literature because I really don't know where else to start.Because of that, Brad and Andy (moreso the latter) have undertaken the job of getting me to read stuff that other ("normal") people read. So I put away the Faulkner and Wharton and go into sci-fi and fantasy.

I have to say this. I just have to. Even though Brad and Andy are going to swat me when they read this. Fantasy novels are the male equivalent of bodice-rippers for women. You know the type—the lurid covers, the atrocious prose, the lacelike (and generally irrelevant) plots…and the purely addictive quality.

They're changed for men's tastes. The covers generally have besworded men (muscles? check! long hair? check!), horses, gallantry. The plots are more complex, and the writing is usually a bit better, but the endpoint is the same. Escapism. Being something more—beautiful, handsome, gallant, suave, brave—than what our everyday lives permit us to be.

There's not a damn thing wrong with escapism. It's healthy, it's fun, and it's a great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon. It certainly beats cleaning the kitchen—that's for certain.

Most of my women-friends aren't romance-novel readers. But most of my men-friends are fantasy novel readers, and that amuses me greatly. I gravitate toward friendships with men with a particular temperament: they are quiet until you know them well, they are thoughtful—and they always think about many more things than they ever actually talk about.

Judging from the breadth and depth of my conversations with them, they also have vivid imaginations.

Let's be honest. Women, when they read romance novels, put themselves in the plot. (Of course they're the heroine.) It's amusing, though, to picture my quiet, sharply intelligent male friends doing the same in these books.

It's a side to them that I've not really acknowledged. But once I'm past the initial giggling, it's pretty cool.