Most people who like to read but don’t read for a living pick a genre and stick with it. They pick a type of book they enjoy and look for more books of the same type. For the most part, I don’t blame them. If your leisure time is short and precious, you don’t want to waste it on a book you’ll regret paying $8 – $25 for.
For myself, I used to love mystery books. By the time I was in 6th grade, I’d read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book published, including the case files and crossovers. (I loved the sexual tension between Nancy and Frank Hardy even before I understood what sexual tension was; I considered Ned to be like Ken, the boyfriend accessory.) I read a ton of Agatha Christie but I had to get permission to check them out from the school library because they were considered too old for me.
I’d read fantasy in the form of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series but when I was introduced to Science Fiction, I was hooked. I’ve read Science Fiction and Fantasy almost exclusively since 5th grade. I made a few forays into Romance but my favorites were the Supernatural Romances, especially the ones with dragons and vampires (except Twilight, fuck Twilight). On the few times I felt the need for a change of pace, I’d read the classics (I love The Count of Monte Cristo) or self-help/management books with a smattering of history and biography.
I’ve spent the last few weeks reading through some of my old writing. A lot of it makes me cringe but I’ve found some gems that I think need to be developed. Plunging back into my novel, I recognized a need that I wasn’t sure how to meet; there was no mystery. There was plenty of Romance, I had the elements of the fantastic so well developed, it was almost a manual. There was a plot, I couldn’t leave that out, but it was much too straight forward.
Going back over some of my favorite books, I realized they were all mysteries. Some were more straight forward than others but they were all universally mysteries. I hadn’t read an actual mystery in, ahem, decades.
I needed to pick one up, and fast.
Then, I got a notice that I had a new e-mail. Borders was slashing prices to 70-90%. There was one less than 2 minutes from my house. I grabbed my keys and headed over. I’d avoided going because, well, watching any bookstore going out of business bothers me and I didn’t want to be one of those people who go to pick over the bones of somebody’s dreams. But, hey, 70% off books! I grabbed a couple Romance’s I hadn’t read by author’s I enjoyed then went to the mystery section. There were some author’s I recognized from when I worked at the library so I grabbed what I remembered being the most popular and another couple from an author I didn’t recognize but the titles caught me.
You will be hearing about these books, soon. I was so impressed by one of them, I was sad to learn she only had 3 books out.
Also, I remembered why I loved mysteries. My writing has already improved and I’ve found a whole new genre to enjoy.