Let’s Talk Genres

When I was young and I found a book I liked, I used to go back to the bookstore or library and hunt down every book I could find like it, then read them all in rapid succession until I felt like I’d spent a week on a cruise ship eating off the dessert buffet breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight snack.

I’d find that what initially tasted so sweet no longer really satisfied, and that I missed the more varied fare of multiple food groups in more balanced proportions (dessert still included of course, just in more rational portions).

So I devised my reading rotation.

I listed all the kinds of books I liked to read and arranged them in a convenient order. For example, I chose not to have Historical Fiction follow Arthurian Literature because they share some characteristics in common. My reading rotation is not a system set in stone. I usually rewrite it every year or so as my reading tastes change. And I do still let myself indulge in things I enjoy—at present historical mysteries, and include plenty of the things I need to keep up with—for example young adult literature, particularly fantasy, which I both enjoy and write.

So what’s my list look like right now?

Children’s Literature from the family room A –>

Historical Fiction, hardback

A book by Elizabeth Goudge—a favorite author

A book of short stories or folktales (I also retell folktales)

A mystery

Children’s Literature from the family room, right shelf

An author biography or autobiography

A work of Christian Fiction

A work of Celtic-influenced Fantasy

A mystery

Children’s Literature from the dining room

A book about writing

A contemporary novel

A King Arthur book

A mystery

Children’s Literature, paperback A –>

Historical Fiction, paperback

A work of Christian Fiction

A fantasy novel, hardback

A mystery

Children’s Literature, paperback <–Z

A classic or bestselling novel

A contemporary novel from the library

A series

A mystery from the library

Children’s Literature from the library

A book about writing

A work of Christian Fiction

A paperback Fantasy novel

Lest you think me nothing but an hedonistic escapist, I must add I have a second list in my family room for daytime reading. It includes: a writing book, a biography, a history book, a book about psychology, a book that nurtures my faith, and a book about current events. (I also read the Bible daily and a variety of magazines–news, professional, and women’s.)

Those are my lists. What would yours look like?

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4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Genres

  1. Great idea! I’d never thought of reading that way. I suppose I do vary my books a little naturally just so I don’t get bored. I do tend to alternate between children/young adult fantasy, adult fantasy, historical fiction (mostly medieval), classic literature, mythology, mystery, biography/autobiography/memoir, and theology/psychology/self-help, and like you, the Bible every day.

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    • Wow, Jessica! No wonder we enjoy each other’s writing so much, we love to read a lot of the same things!
      P.S. You are my first commenter. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  2. It is a good idea to mix up the genres!! As a writer, I particularly enjoy writing fantasy and thriller novels, but I find that I have also been getting ideas for other genres that I never thought I would get into. Fiction is just awesome. Period. :)

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    • I so agree! It can take you so many places, real and imaginary, past, present or future,and in forms so varied I can’t imagine ever getting bored.

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