The reading community—like any legion of fans—likes to to create its own terms. You’ll find romance readers mentioning PNR (paranormal romance), H/H (hero/heroine, not to be confused with H&H for Heroes and Heartbreakers), HEA (happily ever after) and the like. Usually these are initialized shortenings of popular phrases.
Those bits of jargon are easy to parse out or have a friend explain. Then we come to “book crack.” We’re guilty at Heroes & Heartbreakers of calling out J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series of being cracktastic, but what does that mean?
At their base, all novels considered book crack are addictive. To be labeled with the drug-related moniker, a book must be un-put-downable. Length is no issue with these books. Nine hundred pages? Sleep is not needed the night after the release of the latest title in a cracktastic series.
While the book does not need to be tome, the majority of book crack titles tend to require more of your time than a mere afternoon. This relates to the second point: The book must be worthy of devouring despite obvious stumbling blocks.
If every series we couldn’t read fast enough were classified as a drug, then we’d need more
book clubs reading support groups. No, for a novel to be considered book crack it needs to be bad for us. This means there will be issues with the books. There will be plot lines, phrasing or other prose choices that one simply overlooks because you can’t read it fast enough.
For examples, we turn to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, since we’ve already called them out. The first is the odd spelling of the Brothers’ names. Other than the leader Wrath, each has bonus a bonus H or Z in their name (Tohrment, Rhage, Zsadist, Vishous, and the like). It’s silly. We know it’s silly, but—and this part is vital—we don’t care.
Silly choices aren’t the only way to land in book crack territory. Read our roundtable discussion on 50 Shades of Grey. You’ll find H&H writers who devoured the book, but were almost ashamed of it. They knew they’d read better erotic romance, but could not stop reading.
If you find yourself saying, “I don’t know why I couldn’t stop reading,” the odds are good you’re reading something crack-worthy.
And that’s okay. Not every book needs to be read for literary purposes. Books should be fun, and that’s the core truth of book crack. We might shake our heads about series we can’t give up. We might laugh at the asinine plot points as we devour the latest title. We might even tell others we don’t know why we keep reading certain books. But the whole time we’re enjoying the experience.
Book crack gives you a quick high on a tasty story that yanks you through to the end without a moment to breathe (or cook dinner). While we wouldn’t suggest a reading diet solely of crack, we can’t deny the occasional appeal.
While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. Her appreciation of Alexander Skarsgard is well documented. Bother her on Twitter — @ChelseaVBC — she likes it.