Reading is the way I take a vacation.

Sometimes it's difficult for me to tell the difference between romance and fantasy.
Sometimes it’s difficult for me to tell the difference between romance and fantasy.

Why do I read?

To entertain myself?

Probably.

To educate myself?

Sometimes.

To take a vacation?

That’s the reason I do it.

I browse the shelves at bookstores, supermarkets, and on Amazon the way most people read travel brochures.

Where, I wonder, is a good place to go?

Too often, I see those shelves filled with romance.

The titles are titillating.

  • Enemies and Playmates
  • Surviving Passion
  • Lust in the Outback
  • Handcuffed to a Sheik

And there are just as many fantasy covers staring back at me.

The titles are titillating.

  • Bloodcurse
  • A Magician’s Lover
  • Circle of Sorcerers
  • To Kill a Warlock

In both genres, I am reminded of the man who said he read Playboy Magazine for the same reason he read National Geographic.

“Both,” he said, “are filled with strange, foreign, and exotic locations I will never be able to visit.”

That’s the way I feel about romance and fantasy novels.

Some are really good reads.

Some have really great writing.

Most are packed with a bunch of really intriguing stories.

It’s just that I read those passionate, romantic scenes, and I’m thinking, “That ain’t never gonna happen.”

And I read about the Vampire on the trail of a Warlock who’s the offspring of a monster and a demon, and the demon, I surmise, looked a lot like Rita Hayworth on a good hair day, and I’m thinking, “That ain’t never gonna happen.”

But it does.

It happens every day between the pages of literature: good literature, bad literature, and well-read literature.

I’m not for sure I even know the difference anymore.

Romance is escape fiction. But I can’t picture myself as the tall, muscular, swashbuckling Musketeer riding to the rescue in a shirt that hasn’t been buttoned a single time in the past seventy-five pages. So many of today’s romance novels don’t have gratuitous sex. They have constant sex. By page a hundred and four, I kiss it goodbye.

Fantasy is escape fiction. But I can’t picture myself wandering down the same street with a hip Zombie in ragged, purple hair, trying to free himself from a centuries-old curse and forever in love with a beautiful Vampire who has come from deep the netherworld, which, I figure, lies somewhere between Valdosta, Georgia, and Moab, Alabama.

I love fiction. I love all kinds of fiction.

But reading fiction, as I said, is like taking a vacation. If I don’t believe I’ll ever get there, I don’t bother to go.

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