Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA - Genre Fiction

Today's topic for Armchair BEA is genre fiction. My book tastes and reading habits have changed dramatically in this regard over the past 30 years. When I was younger, I read ONLY genre fiction - mostly suspense, thrillers, horror, and some mysteries. In high school, I got hooked on Stephen King and read everything he wrote, along with my mom and dad. The latest Stephen King novel would be released, and we'd pass it from one of us to the next. I got married at 24, and my husband liked all these same types of novels, so we carried on my family tradition of trading books. He also re-introduced me to science fiction. In high school, I'd read every single Ray Bradbury book on the shelves at my public library but had forgotten how much I enjoyed some of that genre. My husband introduced me to The Hobbit and Ender's Game (and the rest of Orson Scott Card's series).

Fast-forward to about 10 years ago, when I joined my first book group. Suddenly, my reading horizons were broadened! That first group dissolved after a few years, but then I discovered my neighborhood book group and another book group hosted by the local Unitarian church. I still belong to both of those, plus try to go to the monthly book discussion at my public library when I can fit it in and just recently started an online family book group! All these book groups did amazing things for my reading habits. I read historical fiction for the first time ever and loved it. I read nonfiction for the first time ever and also discovered that I loved reading memoirs. I now read a very wide variety of books, still mostly fiction. These days, the genre doesn't matter so much as the quality of the writing. As I was thinking about today's topic, I first thought that I no longer read genre fiction, but I do read some thrillers/suspense/mystery and some science fiction...but only if it is really good (which I judge mainly by what reviewers, fellow bloggers, and friends recommend).

So, here are some of my favorite thrillers and mysteries read recently:
  • Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian - perfect for Halloween last year!
  • Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson, a creepy and very suspenseful novel.
  • Blind Descent by Nevada Barr - though I don't read many classic mysteries anymore, I love Barr's Anna Pigeon series because they take place in National Parks.
  • Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich - her Stephanie Plum novels are my guilty pleasures!
And I was surprised to look back and realize that I do still read some science fiction. You can see from this list of favorites that I particularly love time travel plots! I find them very thought-provoking:
  • Time and Again by Jack Finney - a classic time travel novel that is more historical fiction than science fiction.
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - one of my favorite books from last year that I passed onto my husband and son - we all loved it!
  • Breathless by Dean Koontz - I used to read all of Koontz's horror novels, but my husband told me I'd love this unique sci fi, and I did - it fills you with a sense of wonder.
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin - reminded me of my old love for Stephen King - fabulous suspense, horror, and science fiction all rolled into one - I can't wait to read the sequel this summer.
  • Replay by Ken Grimwood - my favorite book of all time. While often categorized as science fiction because it's about a man who keeps replaying a portion of his life, it's just about life and how the decisions we make affect our lives - fascinating and thought-provoking.
Huh. So, I guess I do read genre fiction after all!

What are your favorite genres?


  1. When we lived in IL I was part of a book group and really enjoyed the first book or two that we read. Then we started to get into really big, really boring historicals. Biographies, autobiographies, I couldn't read anymore. That is when I found Twilight and started to just read with some ladies that also secretly enjoyed the series. We kind of started our own book club, but it was more for gossip and fun. We still enjoy chatting about some of our crazy reads long distance!

  2. You are too funny! I'm glad that I motivated you to write this because you have some interesting books on your lists that I will definitely check out. Like you, book club really opened my eyes to more literary fiction, historical fiction and nonfiction than I had read in the past.