Monday, February 21, 2011

À Chacun Son Goût

When I was young, the only cheese (or rather, cheeselike substances) I would eat was Velveeta and American cheese. Now I never touch those, but love most kinds of real cheese, including the moldy ones and the ones with unusual herbs in them.

what I would have liked 30 years ago
When my husband and I visited garage sales and junk shops years ago to furnish our first house, we were attracted to simple dark-stained, coarse-grained American oak furniture. When we later moved to New Orleans, our tastes shifted. The more French furniture made of finely grained fruitwood we saw, the more we loved it. We still have a few oak pieces, but they now look clunky and awkward to me. They sit in rooms out of view of guests.

Knowing how my tastes have changed so dramatically in some ways, I wonder why my reading tastes have barely changed since childhood. Then my preference was for fairy tales, fantasy, history, and biography. As I grew older I continued reading in those genres and added science fiction, mystery, and romance. My tastes broadened to include occasional dips into almost every genre of fiction and nonfiction, but even today a good fairy tale or fantasy is what I pull off the shelf first.

what I like now
The more I ponder this discrepancy, the more surprising it seems. Shouldn't reading preferences reflect one's stage of life? One's growing body of experiences? One's ambitions? One's emotional and spiritual wounds? Sure, I read books about writing, and after my mother died I read about grieving, and because I'm the cook at my house, I've amassed a huge collection of cookbooks. But my first preferences are little changed from when my father first started taking me to the library every week to pick out books.

I'm curious about your experiences. How have your reading tastes changed since childhood? Or have they not changed? What factors do you think influence reading preferences?

I'll be blogging again at Novel Spaces on Saturday, March 5, when I hope we'll all be having much nicer weather.

—Shauna Roberts


G said...

Mine have changed since childhood. Not dramatically, but changed nevertheless.

When I was a kid, I read mostly non-fiction, true crime, history and biographies.

As I got older, those genres still stayed with me, but I also added a little historical fiction and fantasy to the mix (sad to say, Robert Jordan soured me on fantasy from the late 80's through a couple of years ago).

A couple of years ago, I decided to expand my horizons, so I added fantasy back to the mix, and started dipping into the romance genre and general fiction as well.

I would say right now the only factors that influence my reading preferences are some of the people I read about in the blog world.

Recommendations can go far with me, and if I happen to enjoy a particular blogger who happens to be a writer, that will often make me search out their stuff as well.

Maria Zannini said...

Oh, definitely, my tastes have changed--or rather evolved.

It's not so much that I don't like the same kind of story, it's that I'm looking for stories with more empathy for the characters.

Nowadays, I'm more interested in relationships than merely the plot alone.

Charles Gramlich said...

I too thoguht Velveeta was pretty decent as a kid. Not anymore, though I do like those real cheeses too. As for reading tastes, I didn't like poetry as a kid but as an young 20 something adult began to read and enjoy it. I also in my 20s became a much bigger fan of nonfiction. But for fiction, my tastes have scarcely changed at all. And I'm OK with that.

Liane Spicer said...

Wish I could share our lovely weather with you, Shauna.

My reading taste has indeed changed. I no longer seek out fairy tales, fantasy and sci-fi unless I know the story contains lots of social satire. Dystopian sci-fi that closely resembles life as we know it has some appeal too.

I now read much less romance and more mystery. Strong characters wrestling with ambivalence, paradox and duality within themselves appeal to me now.

Still love humour and environmental themes as well as stories set in exotic (to me) places. And overall I'm much less tolerant of mediocre writing.

I also read more nonfiction than I used to.

Jewel Amethyst said...

My reading habits have changed, but it was an evolution, rather than a revolution. I went through my phases of fairy tails, horrors, romance. Now I'm more into creative non-fiction, drama, and yes,occasionally I read romance since I write it.

Children's books have gained favor with me. I guess because I have kids and read what they read first to screen subject matter.

Jewel Amethyst said...

"fairy tails", should read "fairy tales". Lol.