Today’s question(s): 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?
As a young’n (I think that’s how you spell that, right?), I was heavily influenced in my reading by my mother, who read mostly spy thrillers in the Robert Ludlum vein and mysteries in the Agatha Christie vein. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy other genres, especially biographies in elementary school and fantasy (beginning, of course, with The Lord of the Rings) and science fiction (beginning, of course, with Isaac Asimov, especially his Foundation trilogy) in high school. It was just that I had what I guess some what call “a special place in my heart” for mysteries and spy thrillers.
As an English major in college (hard to believe now when you read this, huh?), I was not surprisingly influenced by literature classes I had. Through a class on British literature, I discovered Kingsley Amis, Graham Greene and D.H. Lawrence; a class on Southern writers, Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner; a class on contemporary American poetry, Robert Lowell, Robert Bly, Gwendolynn Brooks, to name but a small handful of poets, many of whom I’ve come to love. Others like Raymond Carver, who is one of my all-time favorite poets, and Carl Sandburg, another of my favorites, I came to discover on my own.
In my post-college years, I’ve been influenced by friends, from Ann, who made me fall in love with Robert James Duncan’s works, especially The River Why, and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, to John, who introduced me to mysteries from and based all over the world, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Steven Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series, of which I’ve read all but the last one
- Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series, of which I am sad to say I’ve only read a couple so far
- Robert Hans van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries, of which I am sad to say I’ve only read a few.
I would be remiss in mentioning that John not only introduced me to mysteries, but to a whole array of literature, from plays of which I have never heard to magazines to which my parents never would have subscribed, such as Harper’s and The Nation, to name just a couple, off the top of my head.
So in some ways, my tastes in books has changed, but in other ways, it really hasn’t, in that I still love mysteries (reading Sister Pelagia and The White Bulldog by Boris Akunin currently) as influenced by my mother, the classics (with more than a few on my list of books to be read for challenges) and what friends recommend (Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano as recommended by John).