Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Reading - A Personal History, and an Unofficial Poll

The bookshelf meme of the other day got me thinking about my reading habits.

I began picking books from the adult section of the Mary J.L. Black Library when I was 13; there was no 'young adult' books back then, or certainly none that I was aware of. One of the first 'grown up' books I ever read was Sydney Sheldon's Rage of Angels, and I was blown away. Up to that point, I'd been reading the sappy 'tween' books, "Rachel hated being 14. Too young to date, too old for childish games AND she had a crush on her best friends younger brother... blah blah yawn blah". In Rage of Angels, I'd finally found a book that moved me emotionally while keeping pace with my need to consume plots and characters, and something that took me more than a wintery Saturday afternoon to read from cover to cover.
I carried RoA around with me for weeks, propping between the cover of my biology book, science text, or whatever class I was in (yeah, my grades reflected it)...

After reading everything Sidney Sheldon had to offer, I moved on to category romances - checking new Harlequins out as soon as they hit the circular racks. (Probably a good thing the Blazes weren't around then, 'cause those would have been one hell of an education for a small-town gal like me *snicker*)

I grew bored of Harlequin by age 17 and moved to Danielle Steele (The Promise *sigh* - I still remember Nancy & Michael. This is the first book that made me cry.), then eventually Johanna Lyndsay, Kathleen Woodiwiss (r.i.p.) and a few other romance divas.
Then it stopped. I couldn't pick up another romance or bodice ripper. I moved completely away from anything with any hint of romance and dived feet first into anything with espionage, guns or the cold war. Ludlum was my new god.
Fast forward, I went into mainstream and literary. I actually sort of privately scoffed at romance *ducking*.

My point? I've come full circle. On my bookshelf you'll find a little taste of everything, from Harlequin Superromances to literary - historical non-fiction, vampires, dukes and Borgias - courtroom dramas, suspense and chick lit.

What's important to me now is looking for a GOOD book - a well-written, well-plotted story that moves me emotionally and presents characters that I can relate to on some level and a believable plot (or convincingly unbelievable!). Now, where have a heard that before?
I've come full-circle as my tastes and expections matured. And if anything, I've learned not to shun a book because of it's genre or, to borrow a cliche, never judge a book by it's cover.

Unofficial Poll: How have YOUR reading habits changed over the years?

And writers - go check out Amy's musings on plotter vs pantser at Six Degrees of Sexy...


Amy Ruttan said...

My reading habit started out the same way. Harlequin to Danielle Steele to Bodice Rippers (thanks Nanny!!) then to just good stories.

Honestly I have a hard time reading Johanna Lindsay and Connie Mason now. I'm slowing getting back into it ... but with everything I've learned ... it's hard.

I've given a lot of different genres a try.

When I was growing up my mother was a strict Christian and there are alot of books I wasn't allowed to read back then that I am reading now (I wasn't a strict Christian, I was sneaking Anne Rice in my bible heehee!).

If it's a good book I can re read it over and over and over. I have a very large keeper shelf.

Tempest Knight said...

When I was a teen I read your typical teen novels. You know, "Sweet Sixteen" series, anything from Judy Bloom, etc. That was beside the classics (Shakespeare, Poe, Faulkner, etc.) taught in school. Then I was into a little of sci-fi and fantasy.

Later it was mostly the classics since I majored in Lit. But one day I was a local bookstore and a friend of mine recommended me to read this romance novel. Yes, it was a bodice-ripper, and loved it. I still miss those good ole covers. Good artwork. Not the sucky computerized ones I see now. Anyway, I went from historical romance to paranormal romance.

julia said...

I was attracted to fantasy and history as a kid and never faltered. The Narnia and Little House on the Prairie series were reread over and over. L. M. Montgomery, too. Then I bought Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave (Merlin trilogy, part one) and left childhood books behind. John Jakes North and South series soon followed. My husband introduced me to Roger Zelazny's Amber series, which I devoured, and I read the first several Dune books which really had a prfound effect on me. Then I found Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and her Saint Germain vampire character (also thanks to hubby!) I'm definitely a fan of series - once I fall for a world and its characters, I want to stay there.

As for romance, I came into it as a genre late, but I adore Jo Beverly, Julianne MacLean and have recently discovered Lisa Kleypas.

Sparky Duck said...

my reading has changed big time, though it totally hasnt either. I remember mosr of the Judy Blume movies, well except for the are you there god one. Then I went into the hardboiled mysteries and the Hilton Sports books. Mysteries stuck with me, still love Robert Parker and the Clancy books too. But, now I am so much more into both Chick Lit books and the paranormal romance/steamier, then I ever thought I would have been growing up.

Wylie Kinson said...

Sparky - oh yeah, I was in a Clancy phase just after Ludlum. And what's that other dick-flick author... Clive Cussler. I read a few of his, and though enjoyable, it was a little to testosterony for me. You should try Harlen Coben or Dennis Lehane -- both are awesome. As is Nelson DeMille, who is one of my all time (I'll pay $30 bucks for the hardcover) faves.

Wylie Kinson said...

Yeah - I meant dick-lit, not dick-flick... D'OH!

Christine d'Abo said...

I went from reading Sweet Valley High, to Stephen King. From there I went into hard core sci-fi and fantasy reading. I didn't pick up my first romance novel until I was in my twenties. I can't get enough of them now! But this also explains my love of the dark hero and paranormal / sci-fi romances. Great combo!

pussreboots said...

Mysteries and sci-fi as a kid, then fantasy, then mostly books for college. I've lost interest in Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey. I've gone back and read more childrens lit that I missed as a kid. I read a lot more nonfiction but I try to keep my reading varied.

Wylie Kinson said...

Oh, yes!! I forgot about my Stephen King, Dean Koontz, then David Morrell stages!!
I think I'm a few years too old for the Sweet Valley High series... It must have come out when I was in college.

Anonymous said...

I think I challenge myself much more now with my reading. I still want something light now and then, but I really want something that will broaden my horizons. I know that probably sounds cliche. I'm also more about quality then quanity. I like to take my time.

Sparky Duck said...

I have heard lotsa raves about DeMille, I will have to try him out. I dislike Cussler.