Thursday 5 June 2008


Booking Through Thursday time again, and a very good question this week which has got me thinking...

Have your book-tastes changed over the years? More fiction? Less? Books that are darker and more serious? Lighter and more frivolous? Challenging? Easy? How-to books over novels? Mysteries over Romance?

Well, there was a definite change in my tastes between 1985 and 1990...

Hmm. I suppose I'd be better qualified to answer this question in a few decades' time, since I'm only twenty-two, and haven't really had time to alter my reading patterns since I started reading 'grown-up books'. Those started to appear on my horizon when I was about thirteen - up unto that point I'd gone from Enid Blyton to Goosebumps to Point Horror, with only some dips into Agatha Christie which could really count as more mature material. That's an interesting development in my reading, actually - I certainly couldn't cope with horror now, unless it's heavily tempered by exaggerated Gothic aspects, such as Shirley Jackson's novels.

So, interwar domestic literature became my reading choice of choice, and to a large extent it still is. I suppose my reading trends have mostly developed into being more widespread, because of a far-reaching English degree, and latterly all the review books I read. If it were up to me, I probably wouldn't read so many modern books - but I don't get sent much by authors writing in the 1930s, funnily enough! I try and dabble in more foreign works now, and more non-fiction (though still almost always connected with literature in some way). So perhaps I'm in the midst of a widening phase, and will settle with some favourites in a few years' time. I wouldn't like to spend the rest of my reading life trying out new things all the time - it would be like always trying to find a comfortable chair, and never buying one. By all means, dip toes in lots of pies (to mix metaphors in a rather unhygenic way), but I need a comfort zone to which to retreat. Or, rather, quality guaranteed.

Over to you...


  1. YOu have a long way to go! At 22, you are lucky that you can venture into many directions. In reading that is!

    I say, explore!

    Booking through trends

  2. But please take your socks off BEFORE you dip your toes in those pies!

  3. You can try out new things and still have your comfortable armchair as well - the comfort zone is a necessity. I feel as though I'm always in a widening phase and like trying new things, so long as I have my favourites as well.

  4. Dark Puss begs to differ with "booksplease". I think that a comfort zone is NOT a necessity. I would suggest that it can act as an impediment to the broadening of outlook, indeed to "growing up" in some quite important sense. Of course by moving away you will risk reading a number of books that you wish you hadn't, but I suspect that the lack of merit will become clear quite rapidly and then you can just stop. For this very reason I suggest patronising a good public (or private if you have the option) library. The temptation to finish a dull/porly written/unpleasant etc. book is so much less if you haven't directly paid for it.

    The rewards are enormous, so don't just dip your toes in, dive head first!

  5. Ah, I think I'm going to have to take the view of Margaret aka Booksplease - cf:armchair analogy! A comfort zone is another term for reading what one likes - I'd hate to always be searching without any sense of my reading tastes. But I shouldn't cling too closely to the comfort zone. A compromise, as usual, is probably the answer.

  6. Good question! I've been reading a lot more contemporary books of late.I used to hardly read anything written before the 1930s or so, now I'm reading pre-published and/or hot off the press books more than anything.

    I still read a lot of fiction, but I've added in a lot of nonfiction as well, including memoir, self help/spiritual and essays.

  7. Ack, I meant anything written AFTER the 1930s or so...

  8. A comfort zone is absolutely *essential*, in books as in anything else. Especially in times of trouble, insecurity or sickness. We all have comfort food ('nursery' food, perhaps, or chocolate . . .) - something we know is guaranteed to make us feel better when we need cheering up or reassuring. And how much fun would travelling be if we didn't have a home to come back to? To live without a comfort zone is to be a nomad, and most of us are not suited to that way of life. To be able to branch out, we need first to establish some good, firm roots. So long as we use it as a base from which to pursue more daring adventures, rather than as permanent hiding place, then in mho a comfort zone is a Very Good Thing!

  9. My tastes have definitely changed over the years. I used to read mostly contemporary (hate to say popular as that has a negative connotation, but I suppose a lot of it was popular) fiction. I tend now to read more of a variety now--lots more classics and challenging books, much more older fiction, and I tend to think about books and how they relate to other books and their place in literature. Of course I still read the occasional fluffy book and still love mysteries--so some things haven't changed. I would like to read more NF. I have lots of NF, but I'm such a slow NF reader that I never make very fast progress.

  10. Well despite cogent arguments from Simon and Juliet, I still don't agree with comfort zones in reading. I most certainly do agree with Juliet that some fixed points in one's life are important, even if over the years (I'm fairly ancient compared to Simon) I have come to regard them as less critical than I did aged 22. To take up Simon's point it is only by reading around widely (and if you like recklessly) that I know what my current tastes are at the moment. They are certainly (in general) not what they were when I graduated from my first degree back in the early 1980's.

    I hasten to add that I don't hold the view that there is a correct answer (else I'd use words like wrong or error rather than disagree) to this question; now if you were to argue for an inverse cubic law of electrostatics for point charges then I'd be more definitive!

    Enlightened discourse is always entertaning, and I look forward to more on this weblog soon.

    Dark Puss

  11. " argue for an inverse cubic law of electrostatics for point charges..."

    How did you know what my next point was going to be? ;-)

  12. Forgot to say - I loved the illustration to this post!

  13. I agree with Dark Puss - in part that is. Of course if sit in your comfy chair all the time it would become saggy and baggy and an impediment to growth - your muscles would be flabby and weak. Actually I like to have more than one comfy chair and move around a bit.

    I agree with Juliet - I need roots and a base.

    I'm glad to see that you understand the inverse cubic law, Simon!!

  14. I don't see why you can't read about recklessly for 9 boks out of 10, and then plonk yourself back in your comfort zone for the 10th book.

    I also think the books you read on your wanderings affect your comfort zone by changing you, and therefore the boundaries of your comfort zone move all the time. So long as you do venture outside your comfort zone, your comfort zone doesn't have to be static just becasue it isn't reckless - does that make sense?

  15. Interesting post, oh to be 22 again and have all the doors yet to be opened!. I'm Late this week but the topic prompted a reflective account on the issues


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