Let me start by saying, probably to a small boo'ing audience, that I have never willingly read Jane Austen, or Shakespeare, or Tolkein, or indeed anything else that English teachers used to thrust excerpts upon you and ask you to comment on what the author was really trying to say. For goodness sake man, spit it out, just say what you mean! Anything with a whiff of A Level Literature about it has me running for the hills. (Having said that, I did study 5 literary whoppers in French for A level, and that was surely enough to finish me off).
In years gone by, in my 20's, I used to just love international spy/thriller type novels. Lots of intrigue, back-stabbing and stories unfolding in a stylish European city. Enter Frederick Forsyth and such. And I still enjoy that kind of format on the screen such as the Bourne trilogy (and Matt Damon doesn't hurt the eyes either). I also loved the epic novels spanning centuries like the Ken Follett "Pillars of the Earth", Leon Uris' "Trilogy" and the Jean M Auel "Earth's Children" series.
In my 30's I seemed to enter the chick-lit phase. I'd snigger at Bridget Jones, and enjoy the latest Dublin-based Marian Keyes novel. I recall sobbing my way through Chapter One of "PS I Love You" with my husband looking on, with 'that' look on his face. I was a new mother with the attention span of a knackered gnat so light and fluffy, funny and sarcastic suited me well. Something to dip in and out of, something to distract me from domestic bliss(!). In fact, looking back, I just enjoyed witty writings - John O'Farrell, Stephen Clarke's "Merde" series, a quirky little book called "Written in Jest" by Michael Lee about a guy that writes to various institutions asking for a job for which he is whole-heartedly unqualified for - and prints their responses. I would marvel at the author's view of the world - my world - those who jotted down observations that had passed me by.
And now, in my 40's I am changing direction again. I think I'm growing up (just a little bit - don't like to rush these things) and there has been an unconscious physical shift as I now wander down different aisles at the book store. Maybe I am just more open minded - maybe I actually have a few more spare minutes of the day to ponder another point of view.
Is this a mid-life non-crisis?
I bought my first book from the "Self-Help" aisle the other day. I don't actually think this self needs much help - no, really - I am that smooth and accomplished in my life (yeah, right) - but I am willing to dip a toe and see what's out there. Maybe it's the North American "Oprah" effect? I read a 'worthy' book last month too. In the past few years I have reached out to new authors (to me), I have paid attention to the sparkly stickers highlighting Literary Awards (though my hat is off to anyone who made it through that "Life of Pi" thing - sorry Mr Martel Author Bloke - I really did try - three times).
My husband and I have always had an interchangeable book list. We can run our fingers down the book shelves at home and read each other's choices - mostly. However, he has an unhealthy fascination with the fantasy genre - and I take the piss wickedly about just how many pixies or elves are in the current book he is reading. But again, something subtle has come about because the other night I finished one of his Jim Butcher "Dresden Files" novels - and I thoroughly enjoyed that too. No pixies or elves, mind you, but plenty of wizards and vampires to be going on with. A delightfully deadpan style of writing too.
Are you a greedy bookworm (or even blog-worm)?