Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Everything Under the Sun

 

Terry Shames answering our question of the week: 

 Do you read books outside your usual interest? For example, do you read award-winning books out of curiosity, even if they aren’t your usual type of book? If you usually read thrillers, would you try a cozy if it was highly recommended? And vice versa? 

 The big answer is: I read everything. At any given time, I may be reading a book of mainstream fiction, a mystery novel, and a book of classic fiction. Like now, when I’m reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab, Leaving the Scene, by Dana King, and The Beloved Returns, by Thomas Mann.
This is a perfect time to answer this particular question, because we’re packing up for a major move to Southern California. I’ve been going through my books, giving up a few, remembering many, wishing I had the time to stop what I’m doing and read others, and packing most of them. It proves just how eclectic my reading tastes are. I just packed two books about Louis IV that I read a while back, and doubt I will read again. Why? Because they’re written in French. Why am I keeping them? “Just in case.” 

I’ve had to make agonizing decisions about whether to keep biographies I’ll probably never read. For some reason, biographies often don’t appeal to me. But I’m keeping Nabokov’s Speak, Memory, even though I’ve already read it. I read a few pages again and knew I couldn’t bear to part with it. 

 A few days ago, I ran across a science book I tried to read and got about a third of the way in, and knew I was in way over my head. I sat down with it and started reading again, with the idea that I would probably give away the book, because it’s a HUGE book. It’s called A New Kind Of Science, by Stephen Wolfram. You could make a career out of reading it. But despite the fact that it weighs about five pounds and I know I’ll never get through it, I’m keeping it. 

 I have a whole bookcase of literary fiction that I’ve already read. A few of them I decided had lost their luster and I could part with them. Others, I’ll keep “just in case” I need to dip into them again. Who knows when I might need to read a few lines from William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury? Or revisit John Fowles's The Magus? (which I have copies of both the old and the revised. No, I have two copies of the old one. I’m keeping them.) 

 I like belonging to a book club, because we vote on what we’ll read, and I often read things I would never pick up on my own. I would never have thought to read, Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, and would have missed out on one of my favorite books, ever. I would never have thought to read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. It’s the perfect book to be reading while I’m snowed under, because it’s light and intriguing. 

 In addition to the other eclectic reading I do, I always try to read the nominees for the Edgars. This year’s was no exception in being full of wonderful books I might never have picked up. I might not have thought to read The Deep, Deep Snow, by Brian Freedman.
Or Please See Us, by Caitlin Mullin.
The other way I find mysteries to read are recommendations from friends. Even if I don’t usually read a particular type of mystery, I’ll take heed if someone recommends a book. Am I sometimes disappointed? Sure. But most of the time I get to broaden my reading horizons. I’d like to hear from readers? What have you read that surprised you? How do you decide what you’re going to read?

6 comments:

  1. Sometimes I decide to read based on a review, sometimes just what I'm in the mood to read, sometimes because of the author. I also read everything from cozies to biographies. I have never joined a book club because I want to read what I want to read when I want to read it and not "have to" read something that others have chosen for me. Of course I'm retired and that gives me that privilege. When I worked I had to read a lot of stuff for work, so now I'm playing catch up.

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  2. I love it: You're deciding which books to re-home, but instead, you sit down to read a few pages and, "Ah, no, this must stay." A real book person!

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  3. Gram, that's a consideration with book clubs. We have one member who read a book if she doesn't want to. We still love her.

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  4. Susan, it makes for a LOT of books being transported.

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  5. Good luck with your move - I hope all goes smoothly1 I can tell you're a lifelong lover of books, no matter the category. I also have trouble giving any away :-)

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