07 October 2008

Am I Regressing?

This week, MizB posted a question on her blog about how your reading habits have changed over the years. Many of the bloggers who responded all seemed to go through a "fluff" phase when they were younger, whether it was western or romance or young adult fluff. Now that they are older, they are reading deeper books and avoiding most of the genre titles.

It occurred to me that I am going in the opposite direction. During my school days, I thought that I was too good to read fluff. I wouldn't have been caught dead reading Nancy Drew or Harlequin romances. I was still smarting from the fact that my family moved from NYC to a tiny rural town in NC that consisted of five churches and a post office on the side of the highway. Since I thought I was more sophisticated than the hicks around me, I didn't want to be seen reading the same stuff they were reading. I searched the library for poetry and anything else that would make me look intellectual.

Nowadays, I'm not so self-righteous, self-conscious, or self-satisfied. In today's vernacular, many of the books I read back then were "emo". I wanted people to see me reading deep, meaningful literature. My need to show off for others hasn't gone away, but it definitely isn't as strong. If I'm caught reading the latest hot chick lit paperback, so be it. I want light and fun with a happy ending these days.

I also want to be able to talk about books with my friends. It is more important to me now to be able to relate to the people around me, at least a little. So now I read young adult books that I can talk about with my kids, books that have been turned into TV shows and movies, and many trendy books climbing the bestsellers lists. I find recommendations on book blogs and among my friends on Twitter.

So I guess I'm going in two directions. I've regressed a little in my reading material, in that I am picking easier-to-digest books than I once did. However, that is a fair exchange to make for my growth as a person. Reading for education and enjoyment makes much more sense than trying to impress or one-up someone.

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