Here's what led me to my musings:
Whether it was a fellow blogger or an author or publicist I met at BEA, one of the first questions they asked was “what type of books do you review?” My typical response was to laugh somewhat and explain that “according to my blog” I enjoy reading contemporary women’s fiction and mystery/thriller the best but that, in reality, I read a large variety of books; therefore, my reviews tend to be a very eclectic mix of genres. I’ve deliberated this in my head for a while (even before BEA) because lately I’ve found myself drawn more often to other genres (though similar) in place of these two. Is it just that the books I have the opportunity to review are different so it’s a coincidence? Or is it that my reading tastes are continually evolving?
Although I’ve always thought of myself as the same type of reader over the years, I have changed in what I enjoy or am drawn to the most. I was a typical young girl reader – anything in the Babysitter’s Club series or Sweet Valley Twins (and later Sweet Valley High) or similar books with girls my age drew my interest. (In fact, I am still searching for a series about 4 girls who wrote each other letters… the chapters were from different points of view and were designed with that girl’s stationary and her own font…) I enjoyed many books from the Apple imprint of Scholastic. (Actually, pretty much anything I could find at the Scholastic book fair). I loved the Ramona books and Superfudge. However, I detested anything with paranormal or sci-fi elements and feel like I’m the only one who did not like A Wrinkle in Time. In fact, anything that I was encouraged to read in school probably bored me, even if I enjoyed it at a later time. I did not enjoy books that took place with animals in the wild (hated having to read Julie of the Wolves) and had no desire to read Call of the Wild. This must be where my love of contemporary “women’s” fiction started; I just wanted to read about girls like me. (Okay, one exception… My Father’s Dragon… LOVED that book!!)
As I grew older, I turned to “horror” books and loved anything written by R.L. Stine for his Fear Street series. My favorite series was The Cheerleaders: The First Evil, The Second Evil, and The Third Evil… and then The New Evil. In fact, I may still have these somewhere, lol. And there was a special edition one called Silent Night that I loved. Around this time I also read R.L. Stine’s younger series, Goosebumps, even though I considered them “juvenile”, haha. I’m not completely sure when the next transition took place, but the next set of books I remember reading were both by Stephen King: Carrie and Cujo. (Those remain the only King books I’ve read). And in high school I read some Alice Hoffman, Anna Quindlen, started Nicholas Sparks, some early “Oprah Book Club” books, etc. I have to note that as much as a bookworm as I am, my reading in junior high and high school (and even most of college) was fairly sporadic and infrequent. In fact, my reading didn’t start picking back up until 2005 when I graduated from college. That’s also when I started keeping track of how many books I read; in 2005 I read a total of 5 books! In 2006 it jumped to 13, and then in 2007 I read 75!
That brings us to now (finally, right? if you even read this far, haha). I've found my tastes turning more literary. Not so much in that I crave classic liteterary authors or the like; but I enjoy more atmosphere in books, well developed characters, and superb writing. I feel sort of hypocritical being so particular about writing skill since I've started dabbling in writing and I can't seem to climb out of the well of telling the story intead of showing. But back to the point, I find myself frustrated when a novel lacks these elements. I still love contemporary women's fiction and mystery/thrillers but I veer more towards these specific things even in these novels. Another funny thing is I never used to be a fan of history, but I almost always love the historical fiction novels that I read.
Basically, this was just a long way of explaining how my reading taste has evolved over time. I think the thing that has stayed consistent over time is my need for variety. I refuse to be stuck to one type of genre. Sometimes I feel like some book blogs fare better when they focus on one genre. But like I explained to another person I spoke to at BEA, I review here what I want to read. And I like to read a variety of genres.
Have you found that you do this as well? Has your taste evolved over time? Do you stick to one genre? What do you gravitate towards most often?