John Grisham isn't exactly who you brag about as an English Literature student when people ask you what writer inspired you to major in English. I wouldn't say he is my reason, but he is a pretty big contributing factor.
When I entered high school, we were forced to read a lot of things I didn't enjoy at the time (although I have appreciation for them now); they were people like Dickens, Shakespeare and Thoreau. I don't know if I was just too young for them or if I simply didn't like the idea of being forced to read something.
It was during this period that I was turned off from reading for a few years. My senior year of high school, a political science teacher gave the class a list of books, and told us to pick one and write a review of it; they were names like Clancy and Turrow. Names I had never heard of. One of my mom's friends saw the list, and said she had just finished a book called "The Rainmaker" by one of the names, John Grisham.
It was the first time in sometime that I enjoyed a book, and I managed to finish it in less than a week. For the next couple years, I would continue to read whatever Grisham book was released that year. After, however, I officially became a English Lit major my junior year of college, I stopped reading him entirely. It was partly because I had a lot of other books to read, and partly because I started to think I was beyond Grisham--I had the "Grisham's for sixth graders" attitude.
A few weeks ago, I was at Costco with my wife, and saw a Grisham paperback, "Playing for Pizza" for less than four bucks. I had plenty of other things to read, but the book was cheap, and I knew would be an easy read; I figured why not?
Grisham still is not the best writer in the business, but there's a reason he gets paid millions for his book--he knows how to keep the readers interest. The book was about football of all things (a sport I have absolutely no interest in), but I stayed interested the entire book. The characters were pretty flat; the plot was sort of like a Lifetime movie; but there was a story with a heart, and that story was a fun read.
Lately, I've learned that's it's nice to take a break from reading serious things every now and then and pull out a book that is cheesy, fluffy, and not really about anything. When I'm ready for that break, I know I still have Grisham.