My friend, Margaret Fisk, has a blog she occasionally posts in. She set up a mailing list so people who are interested can read it when she posts and not be frustrated by how long it is in between posts. Anyway, her most recent post, which you can read at Stray Thoughts of Margaret Fisk, is about her reading list. She's asking for help in choosing what she should read next. I wasn't too helpful, having only read one of the books on her list.
But, it led me to writing about what I'm reading now. That got to be really long, so I decided to post it here. I'm reading Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. I read Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic several years ago. Due to our financial situation, I only recently acquired the remaining books that are out in paperback--Bitten, Stolen, Haunted, and Broken. She has one more out, No Humans Involved, but it's hardcover, so I have to wait for the mass market version before I can read that one.
What makes this all interesting is how I don't like werewolves, vampires, etc., etc., etc. Really, I don't. Or--maybe--I didn't? I love these books. I can't put them down. I'm reading when I should be doing something else. A friend, knowing my taste, said I probably wouldn't like the werewolf books. Most likely because of the violence. But the violence made so much sense with the world she created and the characters in the world, that it wasn't a problem. I probably would have liked them less if the violence wasn't in there because it would have felt like she'd held back from her true imagination.
And then there's Buffy. I refused to watch it when it was on. I didn't get it, and I understand why. I didn't see it from the beginning. I came into a random episode and had no clue what was going on. Then my son shoved it into my hands and made me watch season one. I was hooked. I've watched it all the way through three times since then. He mentioned he and his wife are watching them again and it's made me feel like it's time to go for a fourth go-round, at least with my favorite episodes.
And then there's Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series. I love her writing, but I'm way behind her output. I have at least one StarDoc and two Darkyn books on my shelf. I mention them, though, because the Darkyn are her version of the vampire myth and I love it.
So, what's the point of this seemingly rambling post? I learned, yet again, not to discount a genre, a type of book, or other any general category, just because I've had one or two bad experiences with it. What makes a good story is the combination of writer and subject matter. Different writers will deal with the same subject in totally unique ways. So, while Laurel K. Hamilton or Anne Rice's take on vampires don't thrill me, Kelley Armstrong and Lynn Viehl's do.
I think, in general, people do themselves a disservice when they stick to only one genre, or only a few favorite authors. One thing I used to do, that I don't do as much anymore, is pull books off the bookshelves at random and see if they look interesting. That's how I found a lot of the authors that are now my favorites. But when the money got tighter and tighter, I started sticking to trying to keep up with my favorite writer's books. I think I want to alternate or something. I think it's important for a reader to branch out. And even more important for me, as a writer, to go beyond what I usually read and am most comfortable with.