The latest issue of Newsweek has in it an interesting article about reading and about Jodi Picoult, in particular.
Titled 'Why is it a Sin to Read for Fun?' the article considers the "'gateway drug' theory of literature":
"that once introduced to the pleasures of reading, a child will work her way through increasingly difficult and, presumably, increasingly more edifying texts.....Implicit in this theory is the idea that at some point reading should stop being a pleasurable diversion, and start being work."
I find this an interesting notion, correct in some ways, but flawed in the idea that reading should necessarily be work. Indeed, I think ones idea of 'pleasurable reading' changes as one matures, gains more experience in life and with books. My idea of a fun read is probably someone else' idea of drudgery.
In regards to Jodi Picoult, the article asks 'has she become too successful to be taken seriously?' Interesting question. I have enjoyed some of Picoult's books, others not as much. She has a distinctive writing style that obviously appeals to many people. In all honesty, I have to say that in my own mind I do sort of 'grade' books in level of difficultly, so while Picoult may write about heavy topics, I still generally consider her books lighter and easy reads.
It's an interesting article if you get a chance to read it, and if you happen to come across the print version, there is a great photo of Picoult from behind as she looks out over her many fans at a reading.