Book Genres, Preferences, And Reading (Part 1)

19 Sep

I planned this post 1) as a follow up to the How it all began: Reading Romance post two weeks ago, and 2) because I never got around to do a post about my book preferences and reading, although I had a post titled What Kind of Gamer I am when I started blogging. The post turned out much longer than I intended (and isn’t that always the case?), so I divided it into three parts. The other parts will be posted over the weekend.

What Book Genres?

Most of the books I read are romance novels, with fantasy novels probably being my second preference. But on the whole, I like to read all kinds of fiction genres. I also like to read non-fiction, especially biographies, and – broadly speaking – cultural studies or scientific books. Of course, there are fiction genres I read less often, but if a book sparks my interest (more about that in part 2), I’ll look at it and might even buy it. It’s not an aversion per sé against a genre even though I’ll answer the question what books I read by listing the genres I’m not really into.

I’m not really interested in reading mystery and in its variations, although I pick it up from time to time and I think there is much potential for character-driven stories, or better: interesting stories from a ethical/psychological/sociological point of view, there IMO. For example, I really liked James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia and I found the ethical implications in Dennis Lehane’s Gone, Baby, Gone interesting.

I haven’t read much chick lit. The few books I picked up didn’t really work for me and often I had trouble finding the protagonists interesting (Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes, for example). I also haven’t read much YA and horror. I haven’t a clue what to read, and just picking up one that looks like it, I dunno. There are tons of other books I know about and want to read, and money gets me only some of them, so…

I have a difficult relationship with literary fiction. I read it a lot during my break from romantic fiction, and now my tolerance for an author’s tendency to show off, either with the use of words or by demonstrating how intellectual the author is, is not very high. If I get the impression that the author is too much in love with him-/herself, I’m much more likely to put the book down and never pick it up than when I’m reading another genre and get irritated by something. I know I’m often too hard there and biased, but that’s the way it is. But I still like to read literary fiction because if it’s done “right” (for example A. S. Byatt’s Possession), I like and enjoy it a lot.

As for romance novels, at the moment I gravitate the most to straight contemporaries (ordinariness), (still) paranormal romances (inherent conflict and the potential for melodrama), and science fiction romance (different societies). I would love to read a good (new) medieval, and I plan on taking a closer look at urban fantasy.

  • Next up: “Book Genres, Preferences, And Reading (Part 2)”

6 Responses to “Book Genres, Preferences, And Reading (Part 1)”

  1. Carolyn Jean Friday, September 19, 2008 at 7:31 pm #

    I like this series. Very interesting. Romance readers seem to have a much diverse range of reading than literary readers. I used to be literary only. I look back and just think, bleak. Boring. How could I have restricted myself?

  2. Taja Saturday, September 20, 2008 at 1:58 am #

    Carolyn Jean – I’m glad I found my way back from literary fiction and that I branched out and now read all kinds of genres. So much more interesting. The mindset that only a few select genres (I’m counting literary fiction there, too) are worth reading, is very restricting. I like to think that I learned more about literature and story telling from reading widely across all genres than during the years I read literary fiction almost exclusively. 🙂

  3. Christine Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 8:52 pm #

    This is a great topic, Taja. I love learning what people read and why. I probably don’t have as far reaching experience in different genres as you, but I think I know enough about other literary fiction genres to appreciate why you prefer or don’t prefer those type novels.

    I have to admit that most of my non fiction reading is in the form of magazines, online news journals, and cookbooks. I don’t think I’ve ever been fascinated enough in a single person to be motivated to read a biography. I tend to read information like that on Wikipedia.

    If and when you decide to try urban fantasy, I would recommend the Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs. I love the world and the characters, and it has just the right amount of complexity to keep me speculating about the world and or plot. And simple enough that I can keep up with the new developments in the plot.

  4. Taja Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 12:14 am #

    I probably don’t have as far reaching experience in different genres as you

    – Don’t bet on it! For example, the only thing I could come up with for YA is that I read Harry Potter, and that is a far stretch, IMO. 🙂

    I like to read biographies for the “why.” What influenced a person to do what she/he did? Is there a connection between their life/experiences and their work? I’m looking for answers to these kind of questions when I read biographies, even though I know they’re mostly speculation. 🙂

    And thank you for your recommendation. I’ll keep Biggs in mind. “Speculating about the world” always sounds good! And I have Emma Bull’s War of the Oaks as e-book thanks to Tor. Right now, my impression is that there are mostly series written in UF and that’s what’s holding me back.


  1. Book Genres, Preferences, And Reading (Part 2) « Books and Games - Saturday, September 20, 2008

    […] posted: Book Genres, Preferences, And Reading (Part 1) […]

  2. Book Genres, Preferences, And Reading (Part 3) « Books and Games - Sunday, September 21, 2008

    […] Book Genres, Preferences, And Reading (Part 1) […]

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