Have your tastes changed? Have you abandoned once-favoured authors? Are you reading more widely?
They say with age comes experience. Does that hold up with our reading habits? Well, I say kind-of. Granted my tastes for novels have shifted slightly since I was a teen. I read less fantasy and more non-fiction these days by comparison. But my love for science fiction has always remained paramount.
Contemporary novels when I was younger were more marketed towards housewives; these days the genre has expanded (with many subgenres) to target a wider market. And we’ve also seen the invention of new genres and the popularity of books grow – especially in the last 10-15 years.
YA was not a category when I was in high school. There were very little books with representation: queer, people of colour, able-bodied protagonists, multicultural, or books with characters who suffered mental illness – and if they were represented they were usually villainized or used for comedic value. Same with the representation of strong female characters who aren’t in the story just as a prop or sexual object.
So my reading habits have changed in that respect – the availability of novels with more representation and better portrayal of characters adds so much more fun and colour in my reading. I make a concerted effort not to get stuck in one genre for too long and pick novels out of my comfort zone now and then. Sometimes the surprises are delightful, sometimes it’s a real struggle to reach the end of the book. But each time I gain an important perspective that not only broadens my mind and builds a worldly view, but also adds tools in my belt to help me as a writer (if I read critically.)
As lame as it sounds to some, I still get a kick out of reading the occasional textbook. It educates me or refreshes something I learnt in the past and leaves me feeling independent and knowledgeable.
In high school I primarily read science fiction and fantasy books; then in the university years (thanks to required reading) I got a plethora of texts and novels and found while I enjoyed the classics of literature for discussion, they weren’t necessarily my favourite type of book. I liked novels more along the lines of speculative fiction or those that pushed the bounds of popular opinion. The ‘thought experiment’ types. I think growing up feeling like an outsider I gravitated to books with protagonists or themes that embraced their otherness.
When I entered the workforce the first ten years I wasn’t reading as much and tended to stick to auto-buy authors in the science fiction, horror, and action/adventure genres. Mainly because my reading was more about relaxing and escaping for an hour or two rather than educating.
Since then it’s been about variety. I have my comfort reads, but like to get in a plethora of different type of reads as much as I can. And I definitely read a lot more these days. Work isn’t as demanding and I’ve gotten into a groove with my day. I also think I read faster. It’s no problem for me to knock off a book in one or two days. (Depending of the writing style and length of a book.) Plus, I’ve gotten out of the habit of watching television and movies – because I’m at my computer all day, I tend to shy away from screen time in my leisure hours.
Availability (the types of books published today) has definitely been the strongest influence in my reading habits. As well as time and having the finances to buy books: I’m not out partying and socialising like I was in my 20’s and 30’s and prefer snuggling down at home with my furbabies and getting lost in a good book.
What about you? Has the inclusion of better representation and experience influenced your reading?
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