Picking up a book to read, to me, used to be easy and straight forward.
I would saunter into a book store, browsing through the colourful shelves at the Fiction section, or display stands, following my approval of the attractive cover, I would check the back jacket. Provided that the setting of the story and the plot sounded intriguing, I would pick it up and headed to the cashier, no matter whether the author was known to me or not. I have discovered some of my favourite reads in exactly that manner.
Doesn’t it almost like going to a restaurant? You look at what’s on offer and make up your mind what to order. Easy peasy, no hassle whatsoever!
Not any more!
Things started to change, especially after I published my own books. I met authors, bloggers and readers from all over the cyberspace. With newly acquired, ever-increasing circle of cyber friends, and daily activities on the Social Media scene, new terms of terminologies greet me, none more so than GENRE.
Genre, what the heck is that?
As simple as the word may appear, I have trouble wrapping my stiff Chinese tongue around it. I am relieved that most sites only ask me to spell it rather than say it – For a published author, not able to pronounce a simple English word, or in this case, a French-originated word, can be quite embarrassing, and confusing. Why can’t we just use ‘category’ or something a little more conventional.
How do I classify my own writing? Literary fiction? Contemporary? Women’s Fiction? General Fiction? Crime Thrillers? Memoir? Legal? Oh yes, my books have elements of all of them, so which one shall I pick? You get my drift.
For a reader, oh my lord, it is a minefield out there! I have never heard of so many genres and sub genres in my whole reading life!
The literature genres are no longer what I had known: epic, tragedy, comedy, novel, short story, drama, poetry, romance, satire, and tragicomedy. Nowadays, I hear more of fantasy, erotica, vampires, werewolves, fairy tales, humour, horror, historical, legends, magic, mysteries, or murder mysteries, crime, court drama. The list goes on – chick lit, sci-fi, utopian and dystopian – again, what the hell is that?
Does this super detailed, comprehensive guide to genre make it easy for readers?
Once in a while, I am approached by an author who wants me to read his/her book.
“Sorry, mate, I’d love to but really, I do not read Children’s books, or fairy tales, or sci-fi.”
“Why not?” One or two persisted.
I hate to say no and I hate it more having to explain myself or spell out the obvious.
“Does it make sense that I am no longer a child and I have no interest in THAT particular genre?”
It is not a matter of age, or gender – our tastes in books change over time. I used to be obsessed with the English classics. Nowadays, I prefer contemporary, and crime. When someone claims that she/he reads EVERYTHING, I’d wonder: really? Are you absolutely sure?
In recent years, I shy away from reading non-fiction – Years of academic studies have tried my patience and bored me to death with subject matters from Semantics to International Business Strategy, Who can blame me for my preference of fiction? Yes, fiction, the more, the better!
I am not just a reader, I love watching movies too, a lot!
When I go to cinema or watch a DVD at home or from netflix, I might pick a Sci-fi movie and I absolutely adored The Lord of the Ring series. I would even allow myself an occasional horror if there was nothing else worth my attention. Yes, I venture further afield where movies are concerned. After all, it’s a different arm form, and I expect and experience something different from the visual and sound effects, not just the script, on top of what actors bring to the story-telling.
I often indulge in foreign language films (as well as translated books), whether they are dubbed or in subtitles. I enjoy films from different countries and many of my favourites are not made in Hollywood. Have you watched Life is Beautiful in Italian? or Borgen and The Killing in Danish?
There are comments on Amazon where reviewers complained about the actors speaking foreign languages. I thought: this film was set in Denmark, what did you expect when you ordered it?
Back to reading.
Yes, as much as I enjoy reading and I read continuously, I do not read everything. Surely we all have our individual preferences and pet hates – some people adore cats, or dogs, while others hate them with a passion.
I am a foodie and I would almost always try something once before I decide whether I like it or not. I draw a line somewhere – I do not eat JUNK. My husband John enjoys Chinese food, even the spiciest Sichuan cuisine. He LOVES chips and burgers too. His pet hate? No chicken’s feet, no matter how the Chinese brand it – we glamourise it as “Phoenix Claws” :).
My final verdict – there is nothing wrong with the genres I choose not to read – they could be Booker prize winners, but just not my cup of tea. As a matter of fact, I prefer coffee.
With over 7 billion people in this world, authors can reach out to their audience far and wide, instantly. Whether you are published via a traditional route or Indie, the world is your oyster.
If I don’t read your book, someone else will.
What I would really REALLY like though, is for you to pick up one of my books and read it in 2014 :)! Go on, happy reading!