posted on February 11, 2021 by Jenny Hartwell

Confessions of a Book Lover

I grew up attending Catholic school, complete with plaid jumpers, nuns, and occasionally, class trips to the confessional in the adjacent church. When I look back on my storied past as book fiend, I find several book adjacent sins I should have confessed to kindly Fr. Roger. As that time has passed, instead I shall confess to you. Please have mercy upon my eternal book loving soul.

First, I must come clean about the Harlequin romance novels. As the eldest of five children, I was allowed to stay home when my mom took my siblings to summer swim practice. The instant the van pulled out of the carport, I’d dash into my parent’s bedroom, perch on their waterbed, and thumb through my mom’s Harlequins, searching for the good parts. I didn’t need to have completed puberty to have a complete fascination with all things S-E-X. I was in. The good parts were salacious. Heady. Addictive. I was hooked.

However, like summer itself, my secret affair with my mom’s books was fleeting. Once my siblings had graduated out of polliwogs, I had to find another way to score my vice. To the library I went, but like any young lady in a heist, I brought a stylish handbag. I would check out age-appropriate books, but with no parentals in sight, I’d also check out a secret stash. Books way above my reading level. Books with swearing and murder and S-E-X. I’d smuggle the naughty books home in my purse, hide them under the cushion of my thrift shop papasan chair, and read at night where no one could see, like a proper addict.

I face my next confession with embarrassment despite the dulling effects of time, because it is of a potent variety: middle school embarrassment. In eighth grade, we had to do projects on our cultural background. Did I interview my parents and toss in a recipe like a normal kid? Certainly not. As a serial book lover, I visited the library to conduct thorough research. Leaving the library with a stack of books in academic triumph, I danced along the stairs, perhaps busting out my very cool running man or Roger Rabbit moves. Instead of impressing any bystanders, instead, I tripped and fell. I ended up at the doctor, my ankle sprained. The next day, I showed up at school on crutches. Oh, the utter shame of having a library injury. Let me repeat it so that the full eighth grade horror might sink into your soul: I showed up at middle school with a library injury. How could I ever live this down? The truth was, I couldn’t. So I lied and made up some tale that cast me in a more heroic, less gangly light. I can only hope for forgiveness for this addition to my book-centered sins.

There is one more wrongdoing that I must share. This final confession is a doozy, known to anyone who would be reading a book blog, and it deserves to be categorized with mortal sins like murder and adultery.

You see, I dog-ear books.

I know. I know! It’s terrible, and I have no excuse. I realize the severity of flipping down the corner to mark the page. And yet, I have done it. I’m a destroyer of crisp pages, vandalizing the book itself. Although I held no malice in my heart and it was through sheer laziness that I committed these crimes against literature, I am still guilty. I must atone for this and my many past book sins.

And so, out of both penitence and literature love, I have dedicated myself to books. I am a voracious reader. I have donated generous funds to my local library. (Late fines count as donations, right?) And now I am an author, a writer of romance novels no less, crafting my own delicious, heady tales of love and happily ever afters with a bit of S-E-X for all those who enjoy something a little naughty. I can only pray that my dedication to my craft makes up for my past life of book sins.

Thank you for hearing my confession. And now, I must ask, if you have any book adjacent sins, misdemeanors, or crimes to get off your own chest? Please share in the comments for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card, and may we all live lives of bookish atonement.

If you enjoyed this piece, please check out my debut novel, My Sweet Enemy, an enemies-to-lovers romcom set in a chocolate factory, released February 8th.

Jenny Hartwell

Jenny Hartwell

Jenny Hartwell has a confession---she loves People magazine as much as Pride and Prejudice. Her pop culture humor shines in her contemporary rom-com novels set in a gourmet chocolate factory. Her writing has won or finaled in numerous contests including the Golden Heart, The Emily, Four Seasons, Fool for Love, and The Catherine. Jenny lives with her family in the verdant Pacific Northwest. She loves movies, travel, and staying up way too late with a good book. And, of course, chocolate. Jenny is represented by Lesley Sabga of The Seymour Agency.

15 thoughts on “Confessions of a Book Lover”

  1. Shannon Cripps says:

    Sounds like a wonderful read. Can’t wait.

  2. Sherry says:

    My book confession is is that I buy a lot of books. And my darling hubby has no idea since they are on my kindle.

    1. Sherry, I love this confession. Naughty secret book buying is a pretty good vice to have, all things considered. Thanks for coming to the confessional!

  3. Hi Shannon! Thanks for stopping by & checking out my piece here on Writerspace! I hope you like the book!

  4. bn100 says:

    Happy book debut!

    1. Thanks BN! Do you have any book sins to bring to the confessional? This is a safe place. 😉

  5. Cheers to you for using your time alone reading. I cheated at Christmas secretly opening my presents and then surgically wrapping them back again so no one could know. My first and most honest fight I ever started was because an older boy told me there was no such thing as Santa . After a busted lip and bruised ego I decided to get even with my parents for lying to me, so I opened presents each time they went out during the Holidays .Years later when they told me there was no Santa I remember trying to act astonished . The funny part was once they told me about Santa I have never cheated by opening presents ahead of time. Weird yes ? Read on , read on .

    1. Robert, thank you for your Christmas confession. It’s hard to be a kid who feels tricked. In the name of Writerspace, I absolve you of your sins. 😉

  6. Rachel Flesher (aka Raonaid Luckwell) says:

    Naught book sin? Well, does reading Yaoi / Boys Love manga count for this? I have to order them secretly because my husband gives me grief for reading them. Yes, I enjoy them!

    1. Rachel, thanks for stopping by the confessional. You should be able to read whatever you want, so I say you are free of sin from this point forth! Go forth and read all the manga you want!

  7. GB says:

    Ah, I too have sinned, early and often. Your introduction to Harlequin seems to match mine. My parents were immigrants and wanted to ensure that I learned English well. Since my mom cleaned in a hotel, she often came home with books that had been left by previous guests. Many of those books were what you think they were and also topically above my age level. My addiction to romance books continues to this day. Alas. But, my English is considered to be quite good.

    Hearty congrats on your debut novel!

    1. Hi GB, thanks for stopping by the confessional! I love this story of learning English from old school romance novels. For your penance, you must continue to read all the romance novels you can get your hands on! 😉

  8. Wanda Stone says:

    My cousin and I found my Aunt’s very racy romance books in her closet when we were 11 yrs old. We’ve been reading romance books ever since.

    1. Hi Wanda, and thanks for stopping by. Ah, young readers getting their curious hands on some naughty novels! I’ve heard this sin in my confessional before. Go forth and continue reading! 😉

  9. Ashley Fasolo says:

    I often get more books before starting on ones I already have.

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