Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Stages of Reading
by Kirsten (Inara) Scott
Lately, I've been thinking about the stages of reading. No, not those kind of stages. LOL. I mean the kind of stages where you will only read ONE KIND of book and nothing else. You gorge on your chosen genre, reading every book you can get your hands on. And then…miraculously…you realize you’re done. You go to the bookstore and find yourself picking up other kinds of titles. You realize you brain will explode if you read one more Regency romance/contemp romance/YA paranormal/women’s fiction/chick lit/WWII memoir/cozy mystery. You move on to a new stage.
For me, stages began in high school. At the time, I was a historical romance reader. Not necessarily Regency; I’d read anything historical. Extra bonus points were awarded to books about pirates, and books in which horrible, terrible, awful things happened to the heroine. Preferrably at the hands of the hero. Who would then feel horrible, terrible, and awful about the way he’d treated her! I don't know why I loved such horrible, terrible, awful things, but I did. One book I remember incredibly well: Tears of Gold, by Laurie McBain.
Strangely enough, after college, I lost all interest in fiction. II didn't understand it myself, but I discovered an incredibly narrow subgenre – memoirs of women from the west – and loved it. I wish I could remember all the wonderful writers I discovered during this stage, because I remember that their words inspired me to be strong and independent. I do remember two of my absolute favorites: Gretel Ehrlich and Terry Tempest Williams. Of course, you don't have to be in a Western-women-memoir stage to read these. They are incredible books that stand the test of time. (Not sure I can say the same for Tears of Gold, unfortunately!)
Once I started law school, I stopped reading for pleasure; all my time was spent studying or researching obscure topics for law review articles. I got pregnant during my third year of law school, which catapulted me into the “what to expect” books for pregnant women, and then the “how to raise my child” books. Now THAT was a stage. Whew.
Then, in a hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, I rediscovered romance. Julie Garwood, Mary Balogh, Johanna Lindsey, Julia Quinn…I went back to my old love. And interestingly enough, that's what started me writing. I remembered the joy of the happily ever after, the impossibly beautiful women and unbelievably manly men, and I wanted to have them in my head ALL THE TIME.
Since then, I’ve gone through stages of Regency romance and then contemporary romance. Now, judging from my Goodreads shelf, I’m in what may be the most diverse stage of my life. Or maybe the stages are just shorter. I go from women’s fiction to paranormal YA to non-fiction. And I’m enjoying the heck out of it.
What stages have you been through? Are there any genres you WON’T read? Do you have a stand-by you always return to (Regency romance for me!)?
One commenter will win a recent favorite from my bookshelf: When the Stars Go Blue, by fantastic YA/romance writer Caridad Ferrar.
Posted by Kirsten at 1:07 AM