CHANGES IN READING TASTE
A couple of weeks ago I was browsing Instagram and saw a post from Audible.com asking readers “What book was your first love?” and it got me thinking about how much I’ve changed my reading taste throughout the years. I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm. Both my parents always had books around, which I tended to not look at. But I was sold on the whole experience when a friend of my mother gave me a copy of FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON by Jules Verne when I was about 9 years old. I loved it. I stayed up and pulled an all-nighter reading that book and to this day (although I’ve never re-read it) I can still tell you about my favorite one liner jokes and moments from the book that were my favorite. From there I started digging through my parents mysteries and quickly devoured every Miss Marple and Hercules Poirot story that Agatha Christie ever wrote.
In my early teens I went through a non-fiction reading period where I was fascinated by books about real life mysteries, like IN GOD’S NAME by David Yallop, and on more spiritual subjects like MANY LIVES, MANY MASTERS by Brian Weiss (there’s probably nothing more strange than a 12 year old gobbling up a book like ONLY LOVE IS REAL in one sitting), only to be quickly followed by my discovery of Jane Austen. Ahh the joys of reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE for the first time! Growing up in Panama, I didn’t have the same “classics” reading in school as is often thought of. I in turn had to read a lot of Spanish literature (and loving the poetry of Pablo Neruda). Fast forward a bit, and I discovered the paranormal. My love of everything that goes bump in the night. And that led me straight to Anne Rice. I’ve read her most popular work, as well as some of the most obscure. By the time I was 18 I was reading her other pen names and feeling mighty disturbed about some of the things that could come out of her mind.
That was also around the time that I discovered Harlequin. I went through many a cowboy, tycoon, Blaze and duke romance. But I felt there was something missing from those stories. As many of those as I read back then, I couldn’t even tell you one author. I felt there was something missing from these stories for me and I actually took a break from reading. Life, yes, being young and a bit wild got in the way. When I picked up a book in those years was only about my personal growth. Everything from the teachings of the Dalai Lama and Rhonda Byrne to Napoleon Hill and Robert Kiyosaki.
While I was visiting my family in Italy one year I kept seeing the Twilight book EVERYWHERE! Seeing it reminded me that I really loved the paranormal. But I still didn’t feel the pull to read it. It wasn’t until the movie came out and I watched it that I had any desire to read the book. So on a wild whim I bought the whole series on audio (I think at the time the last book was yet to be released, or had just come out). I was moving from Florida to New York, driving a big ol’ U-Haul across the country and making several stops. So it was the perfect time to listen. As much as I enjoyed the series, it was still a while after I finished it before I decided to give audiobooks a fair shot. At this point, I didn’t really have time to sit and “read”.
While browsing Audible, I found the Sookie Stackhouse series. I bought the first book. After I was done listening to it, I couldn’t wait for my credits to renew (the month after) so I bought the second book. I devoured that as well in record time. And so it continued until I had consumed the whole series up to where it was released at the time. I was again hooked. That was just what I needed to get back into reading. But all I wanted to read was urban fantasy, just like Charlaine Harris. I extended my limits to young adult a bit, although I preferred more adult characters.
Going back to romance? Did not even cross my mind. After the Harlequin’s, I didn’t think contemporary (or historical) romance were for me. I was all about the paranormal once again. But I sort of got through most of the popular series that I saw recommended in forums (yes! forums, we didn’t have GoodReads back then, let alone blogs or Facebook) and started dipping my toes into paranormal romance. I went kicking and screaming, and maybe rolling my eyes a bit about the heavier focus on the romance. But when I would continue to see contemporary series being recommended I still thought “no, not for me, not again”.
Until I gave one a try. That first contemporary author I picked up after all those years was Megan Hart. Broken, to be exact. And I cried, and I loved. And I had to have more. So that month I read everything she had ever written (that was available on audio) at the time. And that gave me the confidence to look for stories in the contemporary genre that would make me feel the same. I found romantic suspense and how it combined my love of mysteries with my love of romance. I eventually discovered Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflower series, and that told me “Yes! You can love historical romance”. And the rest, well, it’s history.
I find myself looking back and comparing how much contemporary romance I read now versus paranormal, my first love, and see how things have changed. How that balance has shifted. And it makes me wonder why. It also makes me wonder why I haven’t made time lately to pick up some of the other genres that I used to love so much. Maybe it’s time to dust off some Agatha Christie’s and see how I feel all these years later.
So I’m fortunate to have had many “first” loves as my reading taste had changed throughout the years. And I don’t think I would change that for anything.
What book was YOUR first love?
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