Bodice-ripping romances. Celebrity biographies. Ultra geeky sci-fi paperbacks. We all have our guilty pleasures when it comes to reading. We’re librarians, we don’t judge. Heck, we’ll even help you find more cat mysteries, troll-laden fantasy tomes, or teen romances – just ask us.
And just so you know – you’re not alone. Librarians harbor some of the guiltiest reading pleasures out there. At a recent meeting, a colleague described her reading tastes as “fluffy bloody,” referring to the subgenre of supernatural cozy mysteries – think vampires-turned-amateur sleuths running the village tea shoppe. I can’t think of a guiltier pleasure (or a better name for a new subgenre).
I’ll go ahead and share one of my guilty pleasures – true crime. From Bundy to Borden, I have always gotten a freakish thrill out of reading about the world’s worst crimes and criminals. Why do I read this stuff? I don’t want to delve too deeply into what my taste for such grim reading matter really says about me, but I can say that I love the “ripped from the headlines” sensibility of it all and the convergence of investigative journalism, police procedure, and courtroom drama. And there’s something about the ten or so pages of lurid photos in the middle of almost every true crime book that I just cannot look away from. Quite simply, I love reading true crime in all its forms.
I first discovered the genre with “modern classics” such as Helter Skelter and authors like Joe McGinniss and Ann Rule. Then I found Joseph Wambaugh’s classic The Onion Field and that led me to his other works and then to David Simon’s amazing Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. Pretty soon I was onto In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song. Then I went on a paperbacks-with-lurid-covers binge – Perfect Victim, Deranged, The Night Stalker. I felt like I needed the equivalent of a literary shower after reading these, so I turned legit. I read more serious stuff: An Innocent Man, Columbine, Bloodsworth. After getting serious, I got all artsy and read a slew of books about art theft and forgery: The Rescue Artist, The Gardner Heist, Provenance. Lately, I have become obsessed with historical true crime, brought on by reading The Devil in the White City. Recent favorites in this vein include the excellent The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, For the Thrill of It, and Midnight in Peking.
Luckily I work at a place where my peers won’t judge me for my reading tastes (right, guys?) and my guilty pleasure can be sustained. We have a great true crime section, located in the 364 area of our nonfiction shelves. And if you’re a true crime fan like me who’s always on the lookout for your next great guilty pleasure, you’re in luck! We’ve added “Beyond Cold Blood: The KBI from Ma Barker to BTK” to our shelves, a book about the most infamous cases solved by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.