The books they are a-changin’

Every day, during my lunch break, I scroll through the new offerings on NetGalley and Edelweiss. Today I realized that my tastes are very different than when I started this blog. When I was a teen and in my 20s, I was a fantasy and mystery nut. I’d read a bit of science fiction on the side, but my true love was with the fantastical and harrowing for years. My tastes now are—I hate to say grown up or sophisticated, because that’s snobbish—more subtle? I guess? I’ve read a long way from where I started as a reader.

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Anna Cunha

When I scroll through NetGalley and Edelweiss, certain things that I used to love in books are complete turnoffs now. I used to really enjoy contemporary fantasy; I loved seeing the ordinary world turned uncanny. Perhaps I’ve seen too many poor examples of the genre, but I click away when I see were-anything or vampires. I can’t do mysteries with serial killers any more. Seeing mutilated women makes me too sad and angry to read any serial killer thrillers—which excludes a fair chunk of the mystery genre. (I also can’t do cozies because I can’t take them seriously enough.) As for epic fantasy, well, I think I got too good at spotting tropes and so many books used tropes too often. I really like N.K. Jemisin and Brandon Sanderson, though, because they’re re-writing the genre.

The books that appeal to me now are very much human stories. Historical fiction (preferably with a mystery) makes me think about how “normal” has changed over time, but how people themselves stay roughly the same. Literary fiction challenges me to find the subtext—not to say that genre fiction has none. I like books that play around with genre, breaking the rules while giving me a ripping yarn at the same time. I’m more likely to pick up experimental fiction than I used to be. Maybe I just got tired of seeing the same plots and character types in book after book.

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