Friday, February 11, 2011

Are You a Genre Reader?

If a book looks interesting I'll generally read it, regardless of genre, but there are some themes I'm drawn to more than others.

I'll admit it, I like a melancholy story. If a book ends too happily, I mistrust it. The hero can triumph, but I need a sense that something has been lost along the way.

On the flip side, I hate feeling like every thread of hope has been completely decimated. When a book ends in complete destruction it feels like a cheap out. It reminds of the stories kids used to write in elementary school when they killed off all their characters to make an ending. Misery porn. Bleh.

I think there's something about the human mind that rebels when you offer it too much or too little hope. It can recognize the untrue thing, just as it can spot bad CGI.

I like ensemble stories. I'm interested in seeing how an author can successfully drawn me into a group of people and invest me in their dynamics. So many book characters are lonely, trying to make it through the world on their own. But the loneliness of characters in a group is rarer to read.

I like the fantastic. I like wild ideas that will draw me into plots I couldn't have imagined. I like seeing the same old human conflicts given new complexity through crazy worlds and different belief systems.

I like powerful questions. The author doesn't have to answer the questions, but I love it when they thoroughly explore them. I especially like ambiguity. A question is raised and there is no clear solution. Every choice brings the potential for collapse. I feel that way every time I fill out my ballot.

What I don't like: anything heartwarming. If a book or movie uses the word heartwarming to describe itself, I'm probably going to put it back. Apparently my heart doesn't like to be warmed.

What themes or patterns do you find yourself drawn to over and over again. Which ones do you reject? Does this plant you within a few genres, or is there a lot of overlap?


  1. Out of the ones you mentioned, I like fantastic stories and powerful questions. I sometimes enjoy heartwarming, although some of the books I find heartwarming other people don't or the ones listed as heartwarming just fall flat for me.

    I like to read a lot of different genres. (If there's a kind of book I haven't tried before, I often go chasing after it. :P)

  2. Oh, Sarah, please don't ever read anything that I write. You will hate it, lol. =)

    This is a great question, though. I generally stick to contemporary YA with a little bit of dystopian/sci fi/fantasy YA thrown in. I also like some chick lit and literary fiction.

    Above all, I like character-driven novels. You can have all the plot in the world, but without the right characters, I'm not interested. Even books with basic or non-original plots are okay with me, as long as the characters make up for that.

    I like books that make me laugh or cry. Ones that make me think for days (or weeks or months) after I've finished the final page.

    Great question!

    Quitting My Day Job

  3. Eagle - I think I'm the same way. I find things heartwarming that wouldn't normally be considered as such. Maybe my aversion isn't so much to having my heart warmed, but to the obvious attempts at doing so. Sneak attacks are better!

    Erin - Oh no! Why won't I like what you write? It is intensely inspirational? I don't want to hate your work!

    I'm a big fan of dystop/sci fi/fantasy as well. So far most of the stuff I've written has been within these genres.

    There have been a few books with weak plotting, but very interesting characters that I've loved. The truth is, getting to know the ins and outs of an interesting person can give you the same rise and fall sensation as a tightly written plot. If I love the character, I'm willing to ignore a lot of things.

    Definitely the books keep me thinking long afterwards! A sure sign of an amazing read.