I was writing reviews (Hope Ramsay’s Last Chance series) and getting ready for a couple of blog tours (Mariah Stewart and Jill Shalvis) and I realized that they were all small town feel good contemporary romance novels. I enjoyed all three novels and have read numerous other books in those series but it got me thinking about tastes in reading tastes changing. When I was in high school my mother belonged to the Zebra Regency Romance novels automatic mail lists (does anyone else remember those?!) and I devoured them every month, especially those about debutantes making their debuts. Now, numerous years later, (I’m not going to say how many years later but know that I didn’t have a cell phone in high school if that says anything) I find myself preferring novels where the heroines have a few more years under their belt.
I started to wonder what it is that changes our reading tastes? Why is that something that once we devoured now we find annoying or boring? The first answer is obviously life events in our personal lives. We change as individuals, surviving trials, loss, momentous moments of joy and life changing seconds. But even beyond this changing as an individual I think it also depends upon what is currently going in our lives. When I was pregnant I found myself only wanting to reread novels that I had already read, even authors who I eagerly await with baited breathe for their new releases I wasn’t really interested in reading. I don’t know if it was the uncertainty of pregnancy (so many things could go wrong), the exhaustion that is growing a human being so not wanting to have to focus intently, or what exactly, but that is all I read for nine months and then as soon as my son was born I eagerly grabbed new novels ready to read as normal.
Now I think this is different than being in reading phases (you know, that feeling of wanting to read a certain type or genre of book) but actually changing what you read. What do you think? Have you reading tastes changed over the years?
Do you book club?
When I lived in Salt Lake City I was super busy working full-time and going to school full-time (it was an insane time-period to say the least and it lasted about four years) but I was able to join a YA book club that I enjoyed so much! After all my English classes (I got my BA in English Literature) where I was required to read boring, heavy, and/or depressing novels that I didn’t get to choose, it was so fabulous to read something that was quick and fun (although some of the titles chosen were tough and emotionally charged). Since moving to Phoenix I realized that I was missing that discussion, laughter, and enjoyment of a book club (not to mention the food always associated with a good book club). So I decided to fix that by starting up a book club and we met for the first time this past week. While I am not usually a huge fan of dystopian novels I decided we should start of by reading Divergent by Veronica Roth. I also thought it would be a good novel to start with since the movie comes out in March.
We chatted about books, hot men, how much I love Sean Connery (I would pay that man money to read me tax forms…but I digress) and I was so glad I finally did what I had been talking about for so many months. What made me even happier about this was having several friends in the club tell me that they haven’t read anything for awhile but flew through the entire Divergent series. I love it that they are reading again! In my mind the whole point of a book club is to get people reading and expose yourself to books you might not otherwise pick up.
I have thought about starting on online book club but am unsure if a) people would actually come and b) what technology would be the best way to go about doing a book club. But what do you think readers? Do you have a local book club you belong to? Do you like the idea of an online book club? Let me know what you think!
I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas and received lots of new books to read. Sadly, I don’t receive books as gifts any more. Is that a gasp I hear from you?! Well, I used to receive books, mostly from my mother who has since passed away but now I get the same statement from everyone “I don’t know what you have already read so I got you a gift card to buy books.” Don’t get me wrong, I adore receiving gift cards so I can make my ridiculous to-be-read pile on my Kindle even larger. There is something so delicious about being able to log on and buy two or three books at a time without feeling guilty (okay, so I don’t really feel guilty I just worry the hubby is going to get annoyed and give that “you are ridiculous Jessica and have a serious problem that I will put up with for the rest of our marriage” look). Looking at the pretty new unread books on the Kindle just makes me warm and fuzzy all over but, this is a big but, it is not the same as receiving a book as a gift. Receiving a book as a gift is a multi-layer experience for me, first, there is knowing it is a wrapped book in my hands, a book that I have no idea what it is, all wrapped in shiny paper, tempting me to figure out what it is. Second, there is receiving a book from someone else, knowing that either they loved it and care enough about me to share that love with me or it is a book they think I will enjoy. I think sharing a book is a very personal event, it is almost like sharing your baby because what if they don’t like it? What if they criticize your baby? I realize that it can be tough to share and even harder to share ebooks (although ebook providers have made this easy but it can be intimidating to the non-techie). While I love receiving print books either as a gift or in the mail I do prefer reading ebooks, especially now that I have a little one, it is SOOO much easier to balance my kindle in my hand while rocking him or feeding him (I don’t know how all you mommies did it before ebooks). I know that sounds like a problem, here I am complaining about not receiving print books and yet I am going off about preferring to read ebooks, it is a problem but I have decided I am okay with this dichotomy in my life.
As a result of my loving receiving books I have become the “book” aunt to my nieces and nephews, they know that any gift they receive from me will be a book I loved when I was their age. I LOVE discussing books with them, what did they love, what did they hate, what impacted them, children are so great about telling you exactly what they think about the book in such a free way that I am never offended if they don’t like the book I gave them. This year was fun for me because I got to pick out books for my new little guy. I realize that four months old is a little young for some books but I knew he was going to receive toys and clothes from the grandparents so I decided that most of the gifts from the hubby and me were going to be books. It was great! I loved mentally debating with myself over the merits of the Llama Llama series verses The Brown Bear finally I decided to go with some of my favorite books from when I was a child (and my siblings favorite, not a single title remains at my parents’ house, all of them mysteriously walking out the door after one of us had come to visit). The author and illustrator of these great books is Bill Peet, an animator at Disney for numerous years, his illustrations are engaging but it is his use of words and imagination that I love. He didn’t dumb books down for children but instead used all the fabulous words available to him to create fabulous stories, exciting adventures and heartwarming messages. I can’t wait to start sharing them with my little guy (and I may have read all of them before wrapping them, deliciously savoring each one like a long lost friend). I hope your Christmas was filled with lovely books and fabulous words.
There are many things that I am grateful for, too many to post all of them here. But I do want to say how grateful I am for the written word, its ability to inspire and uplift, to make laugh, but most especially its ability to take me to far off places and times, allowing me to experience the world through new eyes. I am grateful for authors who are willing to spend hours slaving away to write their story and then having the courage to take that baby (the novel) and send it out into the world so people like me dissect it, stating what we like and don’t like. I am also grateful to have an ereader to keep all the many novels in (never more so then now that I have a little one, it is SOOO much easier to read one-handed with my Kindle then to try and read a paperback novel while holding him, how did you moms do it before ereaders?). Finally, I am grateful for all of you readers of my little site, without you I wouldn’t be able to do what I do (which is to discuss all things bookish). So thank you for reading and for being patient for the last year while I dealt with life stuff and not giving up on me.
From all of us here at Novel Reaction we wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!