Gee whiz, Lale. It was kind of late last night when I wrote that. I feel a bit less impassioned today. For heaven's sake, read whatever helps you get through the strain of the hospital and your mother's illness. I admire Chandler, but everyone's different. Anyway...
I think you need an e-reader like a Kindle or a Nook more than anyone I know. Then, no one can tell what you're reading!
I can easily imagine you not being comfortable reading Red Harvest with a cover that is like a parody of an old pulp novel from sixty or seventy years ago. Interestingly, they retitled Farewell, My Lovely as "Murder, My Sweet" for the 1944 film because they, too, thought it might be mistaken for a romance.
I certainly understand not wanting to be seen reading a violent pulp novel or a romance. I remember when I lived in NYC deciding not to take books with objectionable covers on the subway because of how I imagined they would make me look. It's no use saying that nobody cares -- if I see someone reading I'm always curious what it is. And I may make assumptions about that person based on their reading. (In my current life, I rarely read away from home, and if for some reason I do, I usually take my Kindle for convenience. It also serves the purpose of keeping my reading anonymous.)
War and Peace is funny. For many years it's been the cliché of the highfalutin', pretentious novel, which is absurd when you actually read it. It's funny. You could get away with Joseph and His Brothers or The Man Without Qualities or maybe even Proust. But not War and Peace. (Sigh.)
It seems natural to scold you for being so sensitive to what others think, but one way or another we all are. We literary types who will look at a person's bookcase to get an impression of his or her character are acutely aware of the impression people may get because of our reading material.
I have had Georgette Heyer recommended to me by both critics and friends as an excellent writer and the true heir of Jane Austen. But her books are Regency Romances. If I ever do get up the gumption to read one, you can be sure it will be on my Kindle! :^)
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