Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Evolution, De-evolution and Re-evolution of a Reader

The Evolution, De-evolution and Re-evolution of a Reader
People say that you shouldn't judge readers by what they read.  I tend to agree with that as sometimes I'm in a silly read mood and sometimes I want a book that kicks my ass and makes me think hard.  Sometimes I just want something to read while I eat a sandwich.  But.... I do think you can watch an interesting advance of a reader's life stages by what they read. 

I started off life as an advanced reader. I was a serious girl with few friends and an introverted demeanor.  I also, thanks to my mother, had a high regard for good vocabulary and a strong desire for reading.  I was insistent on learning what those words were and what they meant.  Any word I didn't know I immediately lodged in my databanks until a knowledgeable person or a dictionary came my way. 

By the age of 8 I had read, and mostly understood, Watership Down.  At 9 the Thorn Birds had me in it's grip.  John Jakes' entire taming of America series had me at 10.  Then at 11 I discovered Chariots of the Gods and had plenty to think abut there! Any horse book whatsoever, even books on the care of tack, found it's way into my hands.  I was the most knowledgeable non-horse owner ever. In between these books, when I was running and low and Auntie wasn't paying attention, her Jackie Collins super racy novels made their way to my reading corner.  Now that was an education in itself! 

I read serious books that were over my reading pay grade.  I learned a lot while living in my small corners of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. 
Then puberty hit and suddenly I read nothing but romance novels.  For years nothing but romance.  But the Harlequin variety, the innocent ones.  Barbara Cartland baby, all the way.  As I got a bit older I veered toward Jude Deveraux.  Another tame and loving romance writer.   I will admit that horror titillation is always a draw during this age and there was any new Stephen King and Dean Koontz added to the reading list.But that was all I read - romance/scary stuff.  I did not grow in my reading range at all.

I kept this up for a number of years, until real life ended up in my lap - marriage, babies, mortgages.  Suddenly, where many a reader say they want to escape into a good romance, I found them silly and useless.  I have honestly not read a romance in years, except for the occasional one that passes my reviewer desk.  While the writing may be glorious (Jude Deveraux remains my standard) I couldn't relate and began to once again branch out.

I joined the Book of the Month Club and also the Paperback Book of the Month Club.  Oh the Joy!  I discovered Amy Tan, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Larry McMurtry and so many more.  I revisited my old favorites - read Gone with the Wind and the Thorn Birds again.  John Jakes was remembered. So many more great and talented authors were found.  I have never looked back. 

I read Book Club selections and the New Releases section of the library for years, until yet a new miracle happened - the World Wide Web.  I discovered Blogs.. and writing... and writing about BOOKS!  People actually like to read what other people write about books!  Amazing.  Then I discovered if you're serious enough about it all, publishers want you to read their books and talk about them!  Nirvana!

Now I read almost anything.  I read books written from across town, and across the world.  No genre or subject is turned away without thought given first as to why I would do so.  My world is so much wider than it ever has been.  Without my passion for books, I would have never been offered this opportunity to be part of the book world and to have such access to the books themselves. 

Thank heavens I kept evolving and didn't stagnate on any particular level.

So I can honestly say that not only have books tracked my path through life and assisted me as I have evolved in more than just my reading passion, but you can watch my reading patterns and see where I was in life at that time.  
How about you?