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Booking Through Thursday: Reading Habits

February 6, 2014

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Have your reading habits changed since you were a child? (I mean, I’m assuming you have less time to read now, but …) Did you devour and absorb books when you were 10 and only just lightly read them now? Did you re-read frequently as a child but now only read new books? How about types of books? Do you find yourself still attracted to the kinds of books you read when you were a kid?

I didn’t get around to answering this in a timely manner, but I like the question.

I still read the same way as I did when I was a kid. I dive straight in, and the book’s world becomes sort of a waking dream that grabs hold and won’t let go. Being interrupted while reading makes me look around vaguely, wondering why it’s suddenly the 21st century, where the people who were just talking about a murder mystery have gone, and why I can’t cast spells. Or some combination of those things. Reading takes me deep into the book, entirely apart from my usual here and now and the way my mind works. A good book is, and always has been, soothing to my soul. Even when I know I don’t have time to read (hello, grad school) I make time to read fiction. It helps keep me on an even keel.

Come to think of it, I should try to read more poetry. It can be just as immersive, and it’s shorter, after all.

Yes, this kind of deep dive reading has led to: missed bedtimes, not hearing someone trying to catch my attention, and occasionally the odd missed subway stop.

As for the question of what I am likely to read- some of my tastes have changed, but not all of them.

As a kid, I loved stories steeped in magic and fantasy elements. I still do. I started reading mysteries at a young age- Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and one that’s out of print now, that was terrific: Incognito Mosquito. Brain teasers and terrible puns! It was lovely. I zoomed through a large chunk of Nancy Drew novels. (I reread The Mystery of Lilac Inn at least four times.)

I first read The Westing Game as a kid. I still reread it. It still holds up.

I was a little late to discover Young Adult- I think I was 13 or so, and my peers had shifted over to reading that shelf years before. I always assumed I wasn’t old enough. I still read a ton of YA. Delightfully, there’s more of it, and it’s come into its own as both an age genre, and as a place for genres like fantasy and historical fiction, which I have always loved.

I have always been happy to spend an afternoon or a vacation doing little else but reading. I have always had a tendency to stay up very late with a good book I can’t put down. (And, as a grownup, no parents to yell that it’s lights out time. Fortunately, as a grownup, I also have coffee.)

Thing you wouldn’t expect a 10 year old to read: a steamy tell-all biography of the Beatles. It was the only Beatles book in the library. I’d been watching Help! rather obsessively. So I was used to nice, innocent mop tops. The Hamburg years came as quite a shocker. I also read John Lennon’s writings, and couldn’t make any sense of them. I don’t think that was because I was 10, though.

Genres I’ve started to like more as a grownup: Foodie lit, memoir, interesting pop science, YA.

Genres I liked more as a kid: science fiction (I still like it, but now I’m picky) sort of ordinary life tales, where there are no supernatural elements or mysteries, romances. (I read my first Harlequin when I was 11. I’m pretty sure the actual sex went right over my head.)

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