Thursday, 5 June 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Have your book-tastes changed over the years? More fiction? Less? Books that are darker and more serious? Lighter and more frivolous? Challenging? Easy? How-to books over novels? Mysteries over Romance?

Hmm. I saw this week's Booking Through Thursday meme on John's site, and started a reply to him. Then I got started thinking, 'have my book-tastes changed over the years?' Have they really? And the answer is, no. I read more of what I like, and less of what I don't - in fact, I refuse to read what I'm not interested in, now. I am trying to read more of what matters to me now, more of what I enjoy, and expand in areas I am interested in. These are still the same areas I was interested in 20 years ago: fantasy, mystery, poetry, history, some fiction, some biographies, gardening, cooking. Now, John took the example of Stephen King, and said that his approach to King has changed. Me, I find I want to reread Stephen King's work and see if I enjoy it as much as a 40-something reader, as I did when I was in my late teens and early twenties! My approach to horror books has changed though, from devouring everything, to backing off in the 1990s (splatterpunk, anyone?), to realizing lately that there are some really good scary books again, so more horror is creeping in now.

And as I thought that, I realized that this is what I do: I go in concentric circles - I read heavily in one area, then I back off for a while, then I come back to it again years later. What I am learning is to not give away books in that area because I will come back to it, eventually! See Charles de lint below - once I read everything by him, then I backed off for a while, and now I'm keen to read all his books again. I want to see what I can discover this time around. Since this is a theme that keeps coming up in my posts, it is obviously something that interests me. Maybe we should do a meme on what we find when we reread a favourite author, are we disappointed or in love again?

At the same time, I don't just want to reread favourite authors, I want to read new books and find new favourite authors. Neil Gaiman, anyone? Jasper Fforde? I know by now that chances are they will be mystery or fantasy writers, or poets (or Arsenal supports, like *Nick Hornby*). So, the answer is no, not really. My reading tastes are pretty much the same. Now I don't know if this is good or bad! Aren't we supposed to change as we get older? What about our life-long loves and passions? I have been reading mysteries since day one. And when they get too dark or violent, I switch to fantasy, my second great love. And when that gets silly or unrealistic, I go back to mystery. I need them both. All my other books fit in around these two areas. Ghost stories/horror novels would be third.....
ghost stories/horror
good fiction (L.M. Montgomery to Jane Austen line of good writing!)

I do have to admit to reading tons of (gulp) romances in my teens! Thankfully that has dropped off quickly after I left home, never to reappear (I hope). Oh well, we all have our bad book pasts, and I'm not counting this for this meme!

What do you think? Are you like John, or me? Have your reading tastes changed over the years?


John Mutford said...

I think there's more change in there than you're letting on. Though, it seems like a consistent change, if that makes sense (hence your concentric circles). Likewise, there's some stability in my reading habits that I guess I didn't acknowledge fully either. I'll still read horror, just as I did when I was a teenager, but I don't limit myself to it.

I think your reread meme would be a good idea. The only one that I've ever reread (asides from children's books) is The Old Man and The Sea. I hated it in highschool, and wanted to see if maturity has made it more appealing. I disliked it as much as ever, just for different reasons.

Bybee said...

For many many years, I used to like novels where the men had no redeeming qualities and the women were good & how the women got out of a bad situation and made a wonderful new life for themselves. Now I cringe from reading that kind of novel.

C. B. James said...

Rereading can be very interesting. As a teacher, I've re-read the same books many times, some over 10. If I stop liking it, I stop using it.

I also get to see kids discovering books that I read at their age. That's very nice to see. Even when it's someone who's conviced that Go Ask Alice is a true story.

Susan said...

john: I think you're right! It was a hard question to answer, because what I look for in reading hasn't changed. What I am curious about is the re-reading - and I think what you say is true, too. Anything I've hated the first time, I've still hated later. That meme gets an interesting reaction, doesn't it?

bybee: i know, that sounds like my romance reading - trash reading, or easy reading ("brain candy", I call it) - I'm so glad I outgrew it years ago! But, I find i remember the best ones, and i'm glad I read them too. they are part of my reading life.

c.b. james: rereading is interesting. I find I see things I missed the first time, or move deeper into the book sometimes.

I too enjoy when my children love books I loved - my eldest son and I have shared some books, and he and his father have shared some books too. Now my youngest children are learning to read, and it's fun to see what books they choose, depending on their personalities.

And...I read Go Ask Alice years ago when it came out. For a long time I did think it was real, too!!! (Except for the microwave baby part, which was so awful that it haunted me for years).

Do you find that the books you used when you first began teaching, are books you still turn to, no matter how old the novels are? Or do you let the kids tell you about books they like, too, for the class to learn about?

Nymeth said...

I think I'm a concentric circles sort of person, too.

heather (errantdreams) said...

I've found new genres and sub-genres that I enjoy, because I gave them a chance and, despite my expectations, enjoyed them. So I think my reading has gone from almost pure fantasy/SF/horror to a far wider array of materials. At the same time, I am much less likely to read a book if I have real reason to think I won't like it, because, why waste the time? It's just that this no longer means avoiding certain genres... it tends to be more specific things, like avoiding a particular author or series.