What makes us read, what we read?
This random question popped into my head whilst I was sifting through the 30 pages of Goodreads Giveaways.
On a side point, notice that over here in the UK we only have 30 pages of the ‘Giveaways’, to the 90 plus pages of ‘Giveaways’ that are available to the USA readers. I realise that with the cost of shipping now days, that it is not viable for the publisher or author to send out ARC’s overseas. Long gone are the days when I would mail 150 books in 3 boxes, all enclosed within a USA mail sack for $20 to $25 a time, when staying with friends in Midlothian, VA. *sighs*
Anyway…back to the subject of ‘what makes us read, what we read?’.
I thought that it was a good question, and started to cast my mind (such as it is…I do have days when it doesn’t like to work at all!) on the reason why I read the type of books that I read.
I suppose firstly, that I was brought up on fairy tales, with happy endings…doesn’t everyone like happy endings? Well maybe not everyone. lol So I suppose that I like stories that end on a happy or resolved note.
TV for those of us that were born in the late fifties or like me in the early sixties (and yes, before you start trying to work it out, I was born in the July of 1964…which makes me an ‘a grumpy old man’ of nearly 53!), showed us comedy, mysteries, crime, westerns, classics and cartoons, that we would sit glued to for as long as our parents would allow. The TV brought us a different spectrum of choices for our minds to absorb.
I suppose I was drawn mostly to subject matter that concluded happily or had a resolved ending, Disney cartoons, or my favourite, Scooby Doo & the Mystery Machine, where the gang would solve mysteries wherever they went.
I didn’t like violent or scary things…and still don’t. So I don’t do horror or extremely violent films or books. So no I haven’t seen Psycho or read/seen Silent of the Lambs. I don’t mind things that a bit weird, as I do like Doctor Who (gone are the days that I hid behind the sofa when it came on, as it was scary to me then). So I like a bit of fantasy and science fiction (and no…I have not watched any of the Alien films…that comes under the heading of scary!). I’m more Terry Pratchett, David Eddings and Harry Potter…I wonder what David Eddings, Belgariad would look like, if it was made in a movie or TV series? Probably will never know, as I heard that he refused to sell movie/film rights to anyone while he was alive. And probably wouldn’t be as good as the books!
I loved the TV shows and movies that featured mysteries and crime, that were solved and resolved at the end. Like Charlie Chan, the adventures of Mr Moto, Columbo, Ironside, Banacek, Cannon, Harry O, etc…were my staple diet.
Reading was never easy for me in my early years. I was classed by teachers in the infants and junior schools as ‘thick, stupid and backward’, even to the point of calling in a child psychologist to get me moved into a school for backward children. She got a shock, when she had me sit and do some tests, while she spoke with my parents about moving me to a ‘Special’ school. The tests in question were I think about 5 wooden and plastic jigsaw puzzles, as my parents watched out of the corners of their eyes, me completing every one of them while she talked. When she turned to see how I was doing, my mum says her face was a picture of total surprise, with her saying that even some adults can’t complete them. As my mum explained to her that I had been doing jigsaw puzzles before I could walk, and that I wasn’t ‘thick, stupid or backward’ but just plain lazy. Even my parents didn’t understand the problem of Dyslexia. It took 2 weeks in Senior school (first week the whole of the ‘First year’ students were given a simple spelling test, with a score system to denote your intelligence level). My score was on the low side. So I was sent to a remedial class for 2 half hour lessons a week, for the Remedial teachers to work out that I had Dyslexia and went about helping to resolving the problem, if they could. And they did for the most part. And I will be forever thankful to Miss Eves and Miss Wright, for the diligence and commitment to helping children overcome their reading and writing problems.
Thinking back now it make me laugh, as I was never in the Top class or the Bottom class, I was in always in the Middle class all through those early years. So to me it was the teachers I had who were ‘thick, stupid and backwards’ in their oh so superior attitudes and manner. Who let down the children they were suppose to be educating and helping to learn. They were more interested in the children that didn’t need help, and couldn’t be bothered with the children that did need help. Personally I never had a teacher who taught their students, until I went to Senior school. And there, they were only a handful that really cared and taught…most of the other teachers only made the motions and took the salary and benefits that they got and were paid.
That’s where I discovered my first Nancy Drew book in the remedial class, and I was hooked. They couldn’t put the reigns on me after that. 3 months later, I was sent back to normal classes, as they had managed in part to readjust how I saw words and made it easier for me to write and understand what I was reading and had written.
So Nancy Drew was the first stepping stone into mysteries, followed closely by The Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators, Trixie Belden and so on. When I was 14, I did Agatha Christies, Death on the Nile and Sleeping Murder for book reviews. And then I discovered in the local library Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver Mysteries, and I was totally hooked. Preferring amateur detectives, to police procedural. My staple diet was the older ‘golden Age’ mysteries from authors like John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson’s Dr Gideon Fell/ Sir Henry Merrival Mysteries, Frances Crane’s Pat & Jean Abbott mysteries, Leslie Ford/David Frome’s Grace Latham & Col John Primrose/Mr Pinkerton mysteries. Elizabeth Daly’s Henry Gamage mysteries, etc…the list is endless, and I read all that I could get my hands on.
So that’s what draws me to the ‘Cozies’ or murder/mystery books…light escapism.
Books became my learning tool, my educator – where teachers had failed, authors unknowingly took up the reigns and began teaching and educating me, pushing me to learn and develop…to explore.
Probably why books will always and forever be my passion…as I owe so much to them and the authors. They have kept me sane, been my constant companion, been there when I have been low, and picked me up and brought light into my life. And I can tell you that while writing this part, I have tears running down my face.
Oh, I have tried some of the grittier books, but they very seldom hold any appeal for me. The only one at present that does, is C. S. Harris’s (Candice Proctor), Sebastian St Cyr books…they are mildly gritty, but have great characters and plots, that hold you and pull you into the story from beginning to end.
I love it when a book does that to me. When you open a book to the first page, and it grabs you and pulls you into the book and doesn’t let you go until the end of the story.
For me, a book has to look and sound interesting…yeah, I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover…but cozy books have such pretty covers that I can’t resist!
So my go to books are: Cozies, Vintage (Golden Age) murder mysteries.
I do read quite a few children’s books, now days they tend to be the adventure ones like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson, and his slew of other series. Fantasy books, mainly David Eddings and Terry Pratchett. A few paranormal mysteries like Simon R. Green’s Nightside and Ghost Finders series. M/M romance, paranormal romance, historical romance, from authors like K.J. Charles, Jordan L. Hawk, Charlie Cochrane, Harper Fox, Haley Walsh to name but a few.
Mainly I think what motivates me on a book, is if it sounds interesting enough to wet my appetite. Then I will at least give it a go.
Thankfully we are not all ‘Stepford Wives’. Each person has there own likes and dislikes…that is what makes each of us unique.