ARTICLE: How Harry Styles and a Bunch of Fanfic Helped Me Overcome the Guilty Pleasure Reading Stigma…or Basically, Don’t Be Embarrassed to Read What You Want!

I like to think of myself as a unique individual.  I’ve never really fit into the mold that was originally cast for me by my parents, and I’ve pushed against the boundaries that society has created for me now for a long time.  I’m not your typical 30 some year old soccer mom that drives a minivan, and chauffeurs her kids from one sporting event to another.  I mean, yes, I do drive a minivan, and my middle child plays soccer, and I am running around from baseball games to soccer tournaments most of the time, but I’m the mom that whips into the parking lot with One Direction blasting from her speakers, an obscure t-shirt plastered across her chest that no one else understands, and can tell you more about the dark world of celebrity conspiracies than you’d probably even care to hear.  I read more than I socialize, and I’m not opposed to crawling into bed at 7 PM on a Friday night with a good book and a cup of coffee and calling that a wild night out.  But despite my give no shits attitude when it comes to the kind of music I love (Boy bands are where it’s at), the Star Wars and Harry Potter t shirts that make up 90% of my wardrobe, and the fact that I know more about Harry Styles than the average human being, I’m often scared to talk about the one thing that I really love.  So instead, I hide away and I don’t talk about it.  But here today, I’m coming out with it.  And honestly I have so much to say. 

So what’s my secret, you may ask?

GwRL.gifFan fiction.  More importantly, One Direction fan fiction.

It all started back in 2013, when I was pregnant, tired, and forced to be on bedrest.  I couldn’t concentrate on any of my normal books, and I ended up spending copious amounts of time on the world wide web.  I was already deep into the One Direction fandom, and horrifically upset because my pregnancy was keeping me from going to the theatre to see This Is Us.  Looking back now, that’s probably a good thing, because I would have looked like a weird, pregnant creeper in the back row fangirling over a group of boys that I’m not sure were even legal at that point.  But I digress.  So here I am, pregnant, tired, and an emotional mess when I stumbled upon a new website called Wattpad.  Having never heard of it, I did some digging and discovered that it was basically a host site for writers to share their works with others and receive tons of feedback.  While I thought this was a great idea, and I was a bit intrigued, I wasn’t hooked.  That’s until I stumbled upon After by Anna Todd.  Now this was back when Hardin was still Harry, Zedd was definitely Zayn and  Anna Todd wasn’t yet a household name.  I couldn’t get enough.  Anna was doing something that I’d never experienced before.  Even if it was fiction, and entirely made up, it drew me in and my obsessive personality couldn’t get enough.  I had discovered a world where people were as crazy as me when it came to this group of five guys that couldn’t dance for shit, wore jeans so tight I think they were painted on, and sang like a bunch of angels. 

Since that fateful day back in 2013, I’ve moved from Wattpad to Tumblr, but my love for fanfic has never really waned.  I’ve read drabbles, short stories, even entire books all centered around Harry Styles and his band mates.  For a while, I became deeply embedded in 5SOS fics, but eventually came back to my tried and true. Sometimes I go months without picking up my phone and looking to see what new treasures may lay out there.  Other times, I fall into a deep pit of fanfic and spend days trying to find my way out.

This brings me to this past week, and the true purpose of this whole article.  This weekend, due to circumstances outside of my control, I ended up on Tumblr looking at pictures of a specific singer, before returning to my old standby, Mr Harry Styles.  But unfortunately, Harry’s been pretty quiet over the last few months, so the fics have been lacking.  Niall Horan, however, has not been in hiding, and with his appearance on the Late Late Show earlier this week, Tumblr has been overrun with posts about him.  And that is when I discovered the one thing that has completely ruined all of my reading plans this week, consumed my life, and caused me to take a deep dive into a vortex of epic proportions.  How I’ve been a member of the 1D fandom for so long, and didn’t realize this was even a thing is beyond anything I can even imagine.  Apparently, there is a large portion of the fandom who ships Harry and Niall together, and folks, the Narry fanfic out there is BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS.

tenor.gif

Obviously, I’m a huge fan of M/M romance, and I read a lot of different authors within the subgenre.  My favorite trilogies will always be Captive Prince and the All For the Game books (honestly, if you haven’t read those, and enjoy M/M you need to get to that immediately).  So knowing that there is an entire slew of stories out there featuring a relationship between my two favorite bandmates is absolutely surreal.  Not to mention the conspiracy theories surrounding different songs, release dates, and tweets.  Seriously though, on a side note, go listen to Niall’s latest single So Long featuring the RTE Concert Orchestra, which he released ON HARRY’S BIRTHDAY,  and then come back and tell me there isn’t something there. 

At this point I’m sure you’re all questioning why I’m even still here, rambling on about fanfic and trying to decide how it’s even important to the blog.  And in all actuality the fanfic isn’t important.  What’s important is the fact that for years now I’ve been ABSOLUTELY EMBARRASSED to tell anyone how much I loved to read fan fiction.  I was ashamed of myself for falling down these rabbit holes, and I’ve hid my feelings for years.  It’s the same thing we do every single time we refer to a book as a “guilty pleasure.”  Why do we feel the need to justify what we read with a label?  And why should we feel guilty about what we choose to read? 

Show of hands for anyone who has ever not put a book on their Goodreads shelves because they were embarrassed to let anyone know that they’d read that book, or the fact that they wanted to read that book.  I can honestly say, I have.  Even last week, when I finished up reading Katee Robert’s MMF books, I debated with myself about reviewing them on here.  I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable with MY book chooses.  Charli has books that she’s never shelved on her Goodreads profile (like the Fifty Shades books) because she was embarrassed to let others know that she had read them.  It happens to all of us. 

But I’m here today to ask, why in the hell are we sitting around feeling guilty about reading books that make us happy and that we enjoy???  Why are we worried about judgement from someone you’ve never met in person who is perusing your Goodreads page?  And as readers, why are we worried about what other people choose to read?  Yes, there are problematic books out there.  And if you judge a book to be problematic that is your every right.  Write a review on what you think about the book, point out your issues, and move on.  Don’t bully other readers who may have not found the book to have the same issues as you did.  We all look at the world a little differently, so why shouldn’t books be the same way?  There’s become a bit of a mob mentality with Bookstagram, and Twitter in today’s society and once something is said about a particular book, everyone is clamoring to jump on the bandwagon, whether they’ve read the book or not.  We need to realize, that as readers, we have every right to our own opinion about a book, even if it differs from the majority!

Fanfic and the readers of it are no less a reader than someone who reads your typical YA fantasy, or the latest romance book that’s just been released.  Just like fanfic writers are no less of a writer than anyone else.  Especially those fanfic writers who take real people and celebrities and place them in these alternative universes, where they create a whole world around them.  It’s absolutely mind boggling some of the ideas that these writers come up with.  I’m not ashamed to admit, that I’ve even read a few fics where the authors portray the 1D boys as aliens from another planet.  To each their own, right?  So why should a person feel guilty for reading what they love?  And if fanfic is where it’s at for you, then have at it!

So, with that in mind, I’m going to go back to reading this amazing Narry fanfic that I found on AO3 (If you’re into fanfic, you absolutely need to check out that site).  It’s about Niall and Harry (obviously) and Niall is a single father of a young witch.  There’s magic, and political intrigue, plus an enemies to lovers story line that is one of the best slow burns I’ve read in a long time.

April FacebookAlso, can I just say that I truly have the most amazing friends, and while they laughed at me, neither April or Charli disowned me when I confessed the fanfic vortex that I had landed myself in.  Poor April has had to listen to several different messages now about the plot line of this particular fan pic, and the girl doesn’t even like M/M.  So, readers, find friends that won’t judge your horrible taste in music, and won’t judge you for your “guilty pleasure” reads!

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