le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Booking through Thursday: evolution of a reader

This week's Booking Through Thursday is pretty awesome and children's lit appropriate!

Have your reading choices changed over the years? Or pretty much stayed the same? (And yes, from childhood to adulthood we usually read different things, but some people stick to basically the same kind of book their entire lives, so…)

Why yes, BTT, my reading choices HAVE changed. But maybe not drastically. I have very specific memories of reading - avidly, and on my own - the Childhood of Famous Americans "biographies" from our public library, when I was just a young pup in kindergarten.  The first one I remember reading as my first real chapter book was the one about Martin Luther King, Junior, when I was still so young I didn't know who he was. Actually a lot of the Famous Americans that I read about were mysteries to me: Lucretia Mott, Liliuokalani, Babe Didrickson, Miles Standish [frankly, I'm still a little puzzled by him], Francis Marion, Virginia Dare.
I don't know what my elementary-school reading consisted of, really; I read a lot of the realist series that were cranked out - Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley books, good old Encyclopedia Brown, the Gymnasts, Sleepover Club. I'm sure I managed to read some actual quality in there as well, but on the whole, I'm a little mystified as to what I actually read as a kid. I did NOT read much fantasy, not until fairly late in the game - I picked up the Prydain books around sixth grade (years after my sister geeked out over them), and by late junior high had moved on to Narnia. Narnia, and Stephen King.
High school was a lot of Stephen King and Jack Kerouac.
College was a lot of classics from across the ages - Russian lit, British, American, some French.
But it was almost all fiction until after college, when I delved into nonfiction (though oddly enough, I've never been a fan of biographies. Perhaps all those childhoods of Famous Americans turned me off to the genre).

Now I read a fair bit of historical nonfiction, usually about fairly specific eras, events or problems. I like history of medicine-style books - Gina Kolata's Influenza, and a book on yellow fever, and the like. I also like history - most recently, London during the Blitz.

But the bulk of my fiction reading is children's and young adult stuff, very, very often fantasy. In the last year I've picked up Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, and of course I read "grown-up" novels too (contemporary and older; I zipped through all of Sherlock Holmes in about a month once, and I've read nearly all of Dickens' novels, for example). But I'd say well over 50% of my reading, maybe more like 70%, is children's/YA.

Partly this is because it is my Profession, my Specialty, and so I read for teaching, and for my own work, and for keeping up with what's out there. But a lot of it is that I just really, really like good children's/YA fantasy (Diana Wynne Jones is my perennial exemplar and favorite).

I have no theories on why I somehow worked backwards, gravitating toward fantasy as I got older. It could be that the 1970s and 80s were not a phenomenal era in children's fantasy publishing (especially not in the US, though children's fantasy has always been a weak point in American fiction). Realism and Problem Novels were very much in vogue in the 70s and 80s, and so that was probably what was most prominently displayed in the library.  Perhaps I had enough of a fantasy life going with my barbies and other dolls and toys, and my crayons and paints and markers, that i didn't need to also read fantasy.

Or perhaps - and most likely, as evidenced by the Famous Americans and the Babysitters Club - I just had crummy taste in books as a kid.


gautami tripathy said...

As I have always read pretty much everything, my reading has not really changed over the years.

Here is my A-Z Wednesday post!

Gramma Ann said...

I like to think I haven't changed all that much, just improved my reading.

The Social Frog said...

I've changed a bit through the years!

Lori said...

My preference didn't so much change as evolve. Here's My BTT

Anne said...

Mine has evolved as well but your book intelligence is way better than mine. lol! You can find why here.