Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Expanding taste in books

Perhaps due to the kind of books I grew up with, I never had much taste for sci-fi and fantasy.

When I was quite young (like 7-9), I did read books that could be classified under those genres. 'The Dark is Rising' series by Susan Cooper, 'The Hobbit', '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea', 'Frankenstein', 'Dracula', some short story collections by Poe and Kafka. I also liked 'Dr. Doolittle', 'Treasure Island', started into the Agatha Christie when I was around 10, then ate through all the Christopher Pike books available in the then-tiny Young Adult section of the bookstore.

But for some reason when I hit my teenage years, I got sucked into contemporary. Perhaps, in that stage of growing up, I was seeking something 'real' and felt it was necessary to throw off the silly fantasies of childhood. I was still pretty childish though. A 'late bloomer' if you will, so I never latched onto anything with romance as the main plot. Agatha Christie, Poe & Kafka had left me with a taste for murder and darkness, so I read Clive Barker and some of John Saul's books. I discovered Jostein Gaarder, Haruki Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto and a whole stream of authors who only ever wrote one or two books before fading away into obscurity... but each of them often had just a hint of something strange, something not quite 'real'.

I'd have to say that I didn't read anything that was strictly 'fantasy' until a couple years ago (I know, I was way behind in the game...) when I eventually (and somewhat begrudgingly) picked up the first couple Harry Potter books. They didn't suit my taste, so I didn't get beyond the third one (I think). I figured, since the books were so widely popular, that I have given the genre a fair chance, and went back to reading contemporary and non-fiction.

In this last year, I've made a decision to spread my reading-net. Since I'm pretty ignorant about other genres, I've been asking other people for the names of authors and books that they like.

Some have been absolute misses, where I can barely force myself to get through the pages (I always finish what I start), but there have been some surprising hits as well!

I just finished reading a sci-fi book by Mike Resnick called 'The Dark Lady' and absolutely loved it. Without someone recommending it to me (thanks, L!) I never would have picked up the 'Hunger Games' books. I read a classic YA fantastical trilogy by Garth Nix (Sabriel, etc), a sci-fi YA trilogy by Patrick Ness (The Knife of Never Letting Go, etc), and even a few books with reasonably prevalent romantic-subplots. A few were enjoyable, despite the grindingly obvious conclusions, one was disappointing as I had been quite excited about the author's reputation and the premise (which was nice and dark).

I'm still leery of the whole paranormal/romance genre, but I think I'm going to dabble a little more in the sci-fi genre and perhaps try a historical fiction or two. I know Laurie Halse Anderson has one about the yellow fever epidemic... so I might start there.

Any recommendations?

...I may even try a paranormal-type book if there's a good one without the standard love-triangle plot.


  1. Well, I don't have anything immediate to recommend. I do see a few helpful books mentioned here, Short and Sweet boook blog:

  2. Oh wow... okay, some books I read recently that I liked:
    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
    The Fault in Our Stars
    The Book Thief
    English Passengers
    Little Bee

    I'm not sure what you're looking for... In the fantasy genre, the Dragonlance books (Chronicles and Legends trilogies) were my first exposure to fantasy. Stephen King's The Dark Tower is one of my favorite series ever, and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series is good (but interminably long) too.

    1. Since I've read Miss Peregrine, The Book Thief & Room already (all very good, though I kept getting thrown out by Death's voice in The Book Thief) and liked them all, I'm pretty sure I will enjoy your recommendations!

      Thank you, Jo!

  3. You'd like my paranormal fantasy, which some say boarders on historical fiction. I concur with Jo. The Book Thief was awesome! :)

    1. Okay, I better pop over to your site and check out the blurb :)

  4. I just had to comment and say thank you for mentioning John Saul. I've mentioned him a few times and nobody ever seems to know who I'm talking about. I swear that guy was the first to write YA horror. I still have a few of his books somewhere that i was hoping to get my girls into. Sadly, they seemed to have skipped straight to the 'hard' horror stuff :-(

    1. I read a ton of his books! Yeah, no one even knows who he is either... very strange...

      Was he considered YA? I found his books in the regular section of the bookstore... but yeah, I read them around 14-15.

      I quite liked his books... despite the fact that I would get sent to the councillor's office when caught reading them at school. Definitely not appropriate reading material at a Pentecostal, private school :p

      What can I say... I was a rebel... never had my shirt tucked in, white laces in my black shoes, skirt not 1" below the knee... yup. A trouble-maker through and through.


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