While perusing my beloved bookshelves last night I noticed how many different kinds of books I’ve collected over the years. The majority of them are either fantasy or classic literature, but there’s a smattering of everything else mixed in. Some are books that I will continue to read over and over again; others I will probably never revisit, even though I enjoyed them at one time.
I love seeing diversity on a person’s bookshelves because it gives you a glimpse into how they’ve changed over time. My own shelves are a reflection of this.
I enjoyed the usual suspects as a young girl: Dr. Seuss, Curious George, Amelia Bedelia, The Berenstain Bears, Fairy Tales (the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Andersen), Roald Dahl…to name a few.
By late elementary/early middle school I was interested in mystery/horror type books. That was when I discovered R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series, Face on the Milk Carton, and Flowers in the Attic. My mother was a fan of Sandra Brown and Mary Higgins Clark at the time, so I read whatever books were laying around the house. Middle school was also when I first discovered the Harry Potter books.
I didn’t really read much “young adult” in high school. Truthfully, I don’t even remember there being a YA section at the bookstore back then. (Wow, that sentence makes me sound like an old fart, doesn’t it?) There probably was one somewhere, but I never really looked for it. I had a more varied taste in literature by this time, which school probably influenced somewhat. That was when I started reading classic novels, Shakespeare, and Poe. I also read whatever the big sellers were at the time – James Patterson, Mitch Albom, Nicholas Sparks, and Dan Brown. (All of which make me cringe now.)
College was when my tastes started leaning towards what they are now. I fell in love with historical fiction and fantasy. (My exposure to fantasy had been limited prior to this. Had I discovered the genre earlier I believe I would have been hooked.) I rediscovered fairy tales and the modern re-tellings of them, which over the past 2-3 years has opened my eyes to the world of young adult literature. Authors like Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Brooks, Sarah Maas, and Colleen Oakes have found their way onto my shelves and I know they won’t be leaving any time soon.
Some people keep the same tastes in books throughout their lives. Then there are people whose tastes are constantly changing. To me, it seems pretty indicative of what we are going through in our lives at the time. I used to read mysteries because I was bored with life and was looking for more thrill/excitement. Historical fiction helped teach me about the world during a time when I was looking for more culture. (I didn’t have the money to travel.) Now, with all the ups and down I’ve been experiencing the past few years, fantasy helps me escape from reality when it’s just too heavy.
Even though my preferences have changed over the years, one thing has always remained constant: Books have been there for me, as a friend and form of therapy when I’ve needed it. Sometimes, even when I don’t realize I need it.
How have your book preferences changed over the years?