Sunday, April 17, 2011

What do I like to read

My tastes in reading tend to be fairly eclectic. I’ll read pretty much anything in print – up to and including the back of the toothpaste tube!

I strongly favor fiction. I want to be entertained when I read. I want to get away from the everyday. I prefer happy endings and moral clarity. I have a vivid enough imagination and good enough memory to really enjoy science fiction and fantasy. That may be why I enjoy history as well.

While I favor fiction, I don’t’ dislike nonfiction. I shy away from true crime and autobiographies though. I avoid true crime because it frightens me to have to face the reality that some people are genuinely evil or abysmally stupid and they could very well be my neighbors. (Or worse, my daughter’s neighbors!) True crime stories leave me feeling dirty, inside and out.

And, autobiography? You want to write a book and can’t come up with a better topic than yourself? Can you spell narcissism? Can I believe anything you say? Reading an autobiography seems very similar to standing at a party, trapped against the wall by some boring guy who wants to tell me how wonderful he is. I can’t even pay attention to what he’s saying for trying to figure out how to escape. I think the story of a life is generally more interesting told from a more objective point of view.

I don’t like a lot of violence, blood and guts. I don’t like stories that leave a lot of loose ends hanging out there. I don’t like being preached at. I don’t like it when the main character dies at the end. And, yet, I have any number of favorite books that have one or more (okay, or all) of these characteristics.

What I do like is any piece of written material that draws me out of where I am and into where its tale is being told, that makes me care about the places and people about whom I’m reading, that has me both laughing and crying aloud. If a book can do all those things, I consider it an good read.

A great read will do all the above and make me think on top of it. Once I lay the pages aside, the words stay with me. They may make me consider my beliefs and habits. They might cause me to wonder how the universe really works. And most of all, they make me want to come back and revisit them again.

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