Not long ago, I asked my readers how many books they read at a time. A whopping eighty-one percent said more than two. Let me tell ya, that makes this ol’ gal happy. With so many other distractions, books seem to be among the discarded items of days past. So many people prefer video game adventures to those presented between the covers of a book–or on a four by five inch screen.
As I wrote previously, I have three books open, each one a different genre. These are just the fiction books. I also like to have a devotional and a writing tutorial in the works. Actually, it’s time for me to go shopping for these. I don’t have either one going right now.
For writers and readers both, reading various genres published in different eras broadens our appreciation of the written word and often makes us more discriminating of what we call “good” when discussing books. Even the reasons we call certain books “good” changes. We begin to recognize the elements that make for fine writing or wonderful story-telling, and lose patience with the story when these elements are not present.
On another site, I compared the tension between James Patterson’s Cat and Mouse and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The authors’ styles are as entirely different as their books’ subjects and genres; the only thing similar between the two was both books sought to keep the reader on the edge of her seat through the use of tension. Aside from the vivid content of the scene, Patterson uses exclamation points and chapter closings as tension enhancers. McCarthy shuns all such artificial means. His punctuation is limited, with few exceptions, to periods and commas, and he has no chapter divisions. He relies instead on strong wording alone to paint pictures in the reader’s imagination. As an author, I can’t say that Patterson’s style impresses me, though I’m fascinated by what McCarthy can achieve. But as a reader, I loved both books and would’ve given them both high scores. I loved the twists, the mystery, and the satisfying ending–and the hook for his next novel–in Patterson’s book, and the thought-provoking, emotion-evoking, haunting characteristics of McCarthy’s.
As a writer, I read different genres to learn. As a reader, I find myself craving different genres. For years, I read nothing but romance–until I was introduced to crime novels. I enjoyed those for years until I realized how dark the novels were in their depiction of humankind, then I switched to light-hearted chic-lit. Now I read everything.
Do you? Let me know. And, while you’re at it, leave a comment to tell me what your favorite genre is.