Issue 21 Mar 03, 2023

Popcorn books 🍿


I've been reading a lot lately, I'm happy to say. It's been quite a mix, these books, having ended up on my bedside table for a various of reasons. Several of them have been what my friend Tim referred to as "popcorn books" when we had online drinks a while ago. That phrase stuck with me.

Before sitting down to write this issue, I thought long and hard about whether to name any books or authors. It is, after all, not that hard to think that being a popcorn novel is a bad thing. It is not, of course, and I can't stress that enough. After all, these are books I've read and enjoyed. The mere notion that such a term would be negative is grounded in the idea that there’s good culture and bad culture, the latter often referred to as "entertainment". It’s clear with books, some genres are just less serious, for lack of a better word, than others, and thus regarded as dumb. The more complicated, the better, preferably in a niche nobody but the author and a select few has any knowledge of. It’s perhaps even more clear with movies, where Marvel blockbusters and the like are regarded cheap money-grabs, whereas small indie movies where they speak a language you don’t know is more highly regarded. Now, either of these cases doesn’t mean that the niche book or movie isn’t good, even better for you, it’s just an observation of how society looks at these things.

Better for you, that’s the key, isn’t it? I can enjoy a niche French drama as much as seeing John Wick kill people with a fucking pencil, it all depends on my mood. The same goes with books. It’s not hard, I think, to go from Joan Didion or Bret Easton Ellis, to Lee Child or Jim Butcher. The latter duo would, by most accounts, fall into the popcorn books authors stable, and that’s why I sometimes pick them, rather than, say, Joyce Carol Oates. It’s not a testament to the author in any way other than, at times, I feel like reading something else, something different. I love fine dining, but fish and chips at a dive bar can be heavenly, too, is what I’m saying.

So, don’t feel ashamed for picking up a popcorn book. Enjoy it, and consume the next in the series (it’s almost always a series, isn’t it?) while you’re at it. That’s what I did recently, devouring the first three books in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. It was a nice acquaintance for a time, since the books (and writing) actually improves rather than re-iterates the same things all over again, as, say, Lee Child did for a bit. I’ve put the series on hold for, though. It’s time for something else. Can’t have popcorn all the time, after all.

📚 Currently reading a manuscript by a dear friend of mine, that I'm sure I shouldn't be talking about. Sorry...

🎵 Listening to Marie Laforêt's 1961-1964 in our newly finished (almost) kitchen. The French bistro vibe is strong with this one.

📺 Watching The Last of Us, still. It's getting better and better, I think, but the hype is, as always, a bit much.

🎮 Playing Lifeline+, a choose your path text adventure that I enjoyed but never finished when it launched for the – and hold on to your horses now – Apple Watch! It's on Apple Arcade, and I'm playing it on an iPad, which might not be ideal but I accidentally started it there, and, well, that's it.

I hope you've had a good week. Mine's been slow, a sorely needed break at work. As always when things are slow, you first enjoy it, then start to worry about the future, just to finish at a restaurant with a brand new scheme. That's what happened yesterday, and I'm looking forward to telling you about it.

For now, take care, and enjoy your weekend. I'll speak to you soon.

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡

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