Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Not everything catches my fancy

Are there any genres you avoid reading? Why?

By R.J. Harlick

As an avid reader I like to think I have eclectic tastes and will read anything as long as it is well written and a good story. Maybe when I was younger it was the case, but today I’m afraid I stick pretty much to the kind of book I’ve enjoyed in the past, like mysteries, the occasional epic historical, literary fiction and general fiction.

Although I am a great fan of Star Wars and Star Trek, I’ve likely seen every movie and every episode in all their many flavours, I don’t read Sci-Fi. Apart from Frank Herbert’s Dune series, I’ve never been able to immerse myself into their futuristic worlds. While Sci-Fi films will engage me, the books don’t.

The same goes for Fantasy. I liked the Harry Potter movies, but was never able to get into the books. The first Harry Potter book lost my interest part way through, so I never tried another one. But the books have captured the imagination of a generation and made them into big Fantasy fans. I realize this every time I do a book signing and ask an under thirty if they like reading mysteries. Invariably the answer is no, adding Fantasy is their addiction, which does make me wonder who will be reading mysteries twenty years from now.  

But I’ve forgotten about J.R.R. Tolkien, the master conjuror of the fantasy world. I devoured all three books in the Lord of the Rings trilogy plus The Hobbit. But as much as I loved them, it wasn’t enough to entice me to read other Fantasy novels.

I think the reason SciFi and Fantasy books have failed to capture my interest is because their worlds and everything in them are totally fictitious and alien to me. I find I enjoy a book the most when I can relate to something in it and can learn from it. I’m afraid I have little interest in learning about a ‘what if’ world that is entirely a product of a writer’s imagination and bears no relation to the world I live in.

Before I close I mustn’t forget Romance. I love a good romance and have read many of the classics that are more or less romances, such as Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind and the like. But I can’t say that I have ever picked up a modern Romance book. I suppose it’s because I think they, for the most part, are formulistic and populated by cardboard characters. But if any of you can recommend some good ones, as good as the old masters, I’m willing to be persuaded to try one.

Only two more weeks before I’ll be flying off to Phoenix to Left Coast Crime. I tell you I can’t wait for the heat. The snow and cold is beginning to get a tad dreary. On the Wednesday night, February 24th, I along with other Canadian authors, including fellow blogger, Cathy Ace, will be participating in the International Fiction Night at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore from 7:00 to 8:00. My panel, Big Fish in a Small Pond, takes place on the Thursday from 1:30 pm to 2:30. I’ll also be participating in the Speed Dating event early Thursday morning. It’ll be fabulous to see some of you there.


Paul D. Marks said...

RJ, when you say, "I think the reason SciFi and Fantasy books have failed to capture my interest is because their worlds and everything in them are totally fictitious and alien to me. I find I enjoy a book the most when I can relate to something in it...," I couldn't agree with you more.

I know this won't endear me to a lot of people, but I don't get the fascination with sci-fi and zombie/vampire movies and all that stuff today, whether movies or books. Yes, I love Star Wars, the original, and still love Forbidden Planet and the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But even them I've lost interest in watching these days. And I used to read some science fiction as well, though never a lot. But I think my reasons for losing interest are exactly what you say above and in the rest of your piece.

RJ Harlick said...

I see Meredith is of the same mind, Paul. If we read the kind of books to which we can relate, what does it say about us crime writers, who I imagine read mostly crime fiction? :)

Patricia Filteau said...

Well, I hope you will enjoy a series set in the near future 15-20 years or so, rooted in reality, as it is known and still drive by mystery, espionage, corruption ... oh yeh and murder. Sci-Fi – cyber crime – is our future reality.

Anonymous said...

Every word of what you say expresses how I feel. My Dad introduced me to classic mysteries when I was 12(Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Erle Stanley Gardner, etc.) and I have never strayed from the idea that a mystery challenges a reader. I also read many other genres, historical fiction being another favourite. But apart from Tolkien, like you I am not a fantasy fan. Two of three teenage granddaughters are and I am slowly persuading them to "read outside the fantasy box."
Nancy R in Ottawa ......... one day I will learn how to post as myself, rather than anonymous!

TC said...

@Nancy R...if you don't want to open a Google Account, you should be able to click next to "Name/URL" and then type in your name (or whatever nickname you want) in the "name" box, and then post your comment.

RJ Harlick said...

I rather like the Anonymous, Nancy R. It has a certain panache. I hope you can persuade your granddaughters to become mystery readers. Patricia, your series isn't too far in the future. This die-hard mystery reader is bound to find something to relate to.