Monday, January 16, 2023

Changes in reading

I've been considering lately my reading tastes and habits: what has changed, what has stayed the same, over the years since I started this blog, over the years where it was on hold, and especially in the last couple of COVID years, with more time at home.

 What hasn't changed:

I still read a lot of history, primarily U.S. and British 19th and early 20th century. In the last couple of years I've become interested in the history of medicine, and of women's struggles to study and practice medicine.

I still buy a lot of books, and I still check out more library books that I can read. I am very susceptible to the enthusiastic reviews of other readers.

I am still primarily a "one book at a time reader."

I read by whim, by what catches my eye and interest, so I'm still a very bad book club member. I have also given up requesting review copies (not that I ever got many of those).

What has changed:

I read far fewer mysteries, primarily classic/Golden Age now, or historical mysteries like Ovidia Yu's Crown Colony series. I have lost any taste I had for gore, and so many present-day stories still seem to feature serial killers. I find cosy mysteries too cosy, or they take murder too lightly, and I can usually spot the future victim the first time they appear. I have favorite contemporary authors like Deborah Crombie and Margaret Maron, whose books I re-read with the pleasure of meeting old friends, and I do read their new books (Deborah Crombie may have one coming this year, which will be cause for rejoicing). I have donated so many mysteries to the library sale shelves though.

I read more fantasy, both urban fantasy and what I think of as traditional or high fantasy, and also romantic fantasy. I think I needed worlds away from our own, especially in the last two years. I always enjoyed fantasy and science fiction, but I have found so many new and diverse authors to read: T. Kingfisher, Becky Chambers, Nghi Vo, Leslye Penelope. Just in the past year I became slightly obsessed with Victoria Goddard's books, starting with all 600 pages of The Hands of the Emperor, as well as Katherine Addison's Goblin Emperor and Audrey Faye's Ghost Mountain pack of shifters. Faye's books are absolute comfort reading for me.

I haven't read a good Victorian doorstopper in ages. I haven't been reading the Virago and Persephone authors I collected so carefully - except that over Christmas I picked up Margery Sharp's Summer Visits (from Jane of Beyond Eden Rock's Goodreads recommendation). Losing myself in the story reminded me that it's not just fantasy that can take me to other worlds. I ended up looking to see which of her books I am still missing, so now The Faithful Servants has replaced it on the TBR stacks - and I finally ordered a copy of The Rescuers (I nobly resisted permanently "borrowing" a copy on a visit to my brother's family).

I think I am quicker to decide a book isn't working for me. Library books go back with no guilt. Thankfully my library started accepting donations again for their book sale shelves. There are still books I set aside for now, to try again (also known as "allowing a book to ripen").

I would have said I don't re-read as much, but looking back over last year's reading log, I see quite a bit. That has become my top question in deciding whether to keep a book: will I want to re-read this? It's interesting how often the answer is no.


  1. Do you remember two children's books set on the frontier by Miriam Mason? The first was called Caroline and the Kettle Called Maud and the second was Caroline and the Seven Little Words. The words were "I am going to be a doctor." I loved that book and one called The Middle Button by Kathryn Worth, also about a 19th century girl determined to be a doctor (Worth also wrote They Loved to Laugh).

    1. I don't think I've read those books, or at least I don't remember them. I might see if there are library copies available! I read a lot of books about girls planning to be nurses, but not doctors that I can remember.


Thank you for taking the time to read, and to comment. I always enjoy hearing different points of view about the books I am reading, even if we disagree!