Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Curse of the Eclectic Reader

ec·lec·tic/i╦łklektik/

Adjective: Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.
Noun: A person who derives ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

I recently joined in with a blog hop and was delighted to see a large number of 'eclectic' readers taking part. Whilst in no way am I judging anyone's choice of reading matter, I ended up a little disappointed. I can understand the need to call your blog eclectic if your choices don't neatly fall into a genre or you read two or three different genres but to me, it's all about reading a little bit of everything.

Take a look at my TBR if you're brave! I read general fiction, contemporary literature, classics, urban fantasy, crime, horror, sci-fi, humour, historical fiction, popular science, travel journals, young adult, children's, short stories, novellas... the list goes on. Not forgetting the books that I'm not even sure fit into a category.

What's important to me is that a book is well-written and has believable characters that engage with me as a reader, neither of which has anything to do with genre.

In this world of specialism, am I at a disadvantage? So many people will look at a book and say “I don't read <insert genre here>” I feel that people will visit my blog and run off. Unless it so happens that my latest post is in a genre they already like.

You wouldn't believe the number of times I've heard someone dismiss a book because it was Booker short-listed. It's meant to be a sign of good literature yet so many people are prejudiced to think it will be hard going, pretentious and/or boring. I'd really recommend Sarah Waters' The Night Watch to anyone with this Bookerphobia and challenge you to change your mind.

The leper of the genres has got to be science fiction. I bet you'd happily sit down to watch a sci-fi film, but when faced with a novel most people would dismiss it straight away. In a world where scientists have cloned sheep and people carry miniature computers in their pockets, why is this genre deemed so inaccessible? It's not all about spaceships and aliens, and even those can be made into an entertaining or thought-provoking book.

There are, of course, some genres I read more than others. The high percentage of urban fantasy novels has a lot to do with them being easy and entertaining reads that I can get through in an evening (if uninterrupted). I can't really compare in volume to contemporary literature, which in general takes me a bit longer to get through. How busy I am at work will also affect what I read; sometimes I just want to turn my brain off when I get home. I could watch the telly but instead I choose to read easy-going books. I won't always blog about a book if it's something I've read for sheer escapism though.

Not that I'll stop blogging or change my reading habits. I'll just have to be content with my hard-core eclectic followers!

6 comments:

  1. I'm exactly the same :) When I go to the library I'll often pick stuff up because I like the title or the cover, rather than bother to look at the genre :) I've found some of my best reads that way (altho some of them have been awful as well, heh.)

    It's nice to read eclectic blogs, it gives me some inspiration :)


    Sarah
    http://www.sarahmia.co.uk/ff

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  2. I understand what you mean. I will read anything that doesn't completely annoy me!! And I have different things I read based on my mood, usually at least 3-4 books at a time.

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  3. What a good post. It's nice to see a viewpoint. I would describe my OH's musical taste as eclectic but not my books. I used to be quite narrow-minded but running a book group and joining a book circle changed that. My wish list contains books that have been recommended by friends or magazines and newspapers. I haven' t read sci-fi for some years but did so in my teens. Isaac Asimov and Brian Aldous Brave New World particularly spring to mind. I hope you getting some more comments, interesting to hear people's views. Again, thank you for raising a good discussion point.

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  4. I will read pretty much anything too - I don't think there is a genre I would say I'd never read, except possibly westerns - but my reading does seem to go in cycles. I tend to stick with a genre for 3 or 4 books then go for a change. Blog hopping is a great way of finding books you've never heard of.

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  5. This is a great post hon and too true. I have a huge mix from thriller, romance to die hard zombie and blood shed. I would never go to a blog and bolt off just because the blogger reads only (chick lit which is not a biggy on my list
    ).

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  6. I read a little bit of everything. Most of the time I don't even check (or know) what genre a book falls in. I just know if I like it or not. As such, my book blog is a wide mix. And I like it that way.

    If you aren't pigeon-holed into one genre, you can really experience a wide variety of stories.

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