When people ask me what I read, I generally list off those impressive works and writers that make me seem relatively well-read and well-rounded (see my Reading List page). I might linger on some of the names, some better known than others. Then I tend to give a list of what I don’t read:
- I don’t read romance novels (bodice rippers, I call them),
- Or science fiction,
- Or fantasy.
There is, however, a problem with this trilogy of rejection that I have only just come to realize–it’s just not true.
While I don’t read bodice rippers, I certainly read books with romantic plots. While I don’t read super futuristic stuff, I love Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, H.G. Wells, and Ray Bradbury. What are those if not science fiction? And some of my most beloved childhood (and adult) series and readings, like The Once and Future King, The Song of the Lioness Series, Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Neverending Story, are most certainly fantasy. So why is it then that I think I don’t like these things?
When I tell people I don’t like chocolate, my wise spouse always corrects me: “You just don’t like crappy chocolate.” Which is completely true. Maybe I’m the same way about books. No matter what genre or author, I like good books.
I had talked before about the label of Readable. Perhaps I am guilty of the same prejudice in that I assume just because something is under a different label, it can’t be engaging and stylistically strong. On the flip side, brilliant technique or ‘literary’ labels do not necessarily make a good book.
What are your thoughts, readers? Does genre get a bad rap? Is it simply a case of needing good writing as opposed to relying solely on plot? And does anyone else out there suffer the shame of readability?