Which Genres Do I Read?

Why? Or Why Not?

By Jeff Salter

To say that I’ll read nearly anything doesn’t mean that I have unrefined literary tastes — it just means that I love to read and if there’s nothing at hand that I’d prefer, I’ll just read practically whatever I can find. [The worst outcomes involve the waiting rooms of medical / dental offices and the place where I get my hair cut. They NEVER seem to have a magazine that actually interests me, so I just pick one of whatever’s present.]

I began with that intro simply to make clear that I’m not a literary snob. That said, I do have favorite genres and there are genres that I don’t care for.

One more general note before I get started. Most of the traditional genre divisions have been blurred in recent years… to the point that there are hybrids and blends of nearly every type. I think that’s a positive development, even though it makes things slightly more difficult for libraries and book stores.

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Genres That I Used to Ignore

For a large portion of my life, I had zero interest in Western novels. That could surprise any of you who understand that I grew up watching TV and movie westerns… and wanted (desperately) to be either a gunfighter or a sheriff when I grew up. But I’d only read THREE western novels in my entire life until last year, when I began writing my time-travel series featuring a cowboy character from the 1880s. Once I sank my teeth into Louis L’Amour, Max Brand, and Zane Grey – in order to research the folkways of the American cowboy – I was hooked. I’ve since read several more of those authors’ titles, as well as many books from other lesser known writers.

Likewise, for much of my life, I’d kept my distance from the entire multi-faceted genre which we loosely call “Romance.” My wife read them, my mother-in-law read them, and I knew they were extremely popular in the public libraries where I worked. But until I began writing novels with romance as a central thread – around 2006 – I had read exactly ONE romance… a Barbara Cartland novel. Since 2006, I’ve read scores of novels that fall within the blended genres that make up the world of Romance publishing.

As I noted about the westerns, the area of science fiction never appealed to me… in book form. Oh, I devoured the Sci-Fic movie explosion of the 1950s, and loved the episodes of Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Outer Limits, etc. But other than reading a few short stories, I never got into Sci-Fic novels. Not exactly sure why, but I think I was deterred partly because I so despised science — as a subject, in classes from junior high through college. Maybe I feared the Sci-Fic books would delve so deeply into SCIENCE, that I’d be too bored to care about the plot and characters in the story itself. [And, by the way, I recently read a novel by an otherwise excellent author – Michael Crichton – called “Congo.” Folks, Crichton nearly bored me to death with all his pages and pages of scientific explanation. Good grief.]

What Do I Enjoy Reading?

Well, I love non-fiction military history… along with novels that have a military or war-time setting.

I’m fascinated by books on UFOs, aliens, and the JFK assassination.

I haven’t read much lately, but I used to read a lot of poetry.

I’ve long enjoyed “international intrigue” – AKA spy novels – especially those set during war times.

I like action books, thrillers, etc.

I love comedies. And, BTW, even non-fiction can be extremely funny… Bill Bryson’s many books being prime examples.

As I was reminded by our Tuesday Fox, Angela, I love reading Children’s books… provided the artwork is terrific and the story is not too preachy. One of my favorite parts of my nearly 30 years in librarianship were those periods when I selected children’s books for our collections.

Books I Still Won’t Read

I won’t read anything that I know will terrify me. Sure, call me a sissy. But if a story won’t let me sleep at night, for fear of noises and shadows, then I don’t want to read it.

I don’t read anything about demons or evil sprits. The spiritual world is far too real to me and I know from the Bible that we Christians are faced with a daily battle against our spiritual enemies… so I dare not contaminate my mind with stories about evil demons (which, BTW, are all the rage, right now).

What Do I Write?

In earlier blogs, I’ve stated that I write (besides screwball comedy): “a blend of action, romance, and comedy… plus a few also have suspense.” Since that point (2015), I’ve also written a bit of science fiction, some time-travel, and even a ghost story! But, overall, my assessment of my own writing is that most of my titles are BLENDS of several genres… and I truly do not believe any of mine are formulaic, as in the worst examples of the most common genres.

I was struck by Elaine’s expression (Wednesday), describing one of her cross genre novels: “It’s a cross between a mystery, thriller, romance with a dash of science fiction thrown in.”

As did Patricia on Monday, I’m placing a link to my blog from May 7, 2015…  in which I discuss a bit about different genres (in particular in how they END).

https://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/lets-talk-about-endings/

Question:

What about YOU? Which genres do YOU enjoy reading?

 

[JLS # 483]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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24 Responses to Which Genres Do I Read?

  1. Dianne Blaikie says:

    I will read just about anything. My favorites, though, are lengthy books that keep me occupied for awhile. Some of my favorite authors are Stephen King, Diana Gabaldon, Charles Dickens…you may think that those authors have nothing in common, but they do. Their books are quite lengthy, with involved, detailed plots, great descriptions and good characterizations.  King is gifted with writing that makes me smell and feel and see clearly most of his descriptions. Gabaldon paints historical settings so well that I can hear the horses hooves hitting the ground. There isn’t much that I can say about Dickens that hasn’t been covered ad nauseum. Thanks for asking. Dianne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Other than David Copperfield — required reading in 9th grade — I don’t believe I’ve read anything by Dickens. Well, I read A Christmas Carol.
      I think I’ve read a few stories by Stephen King, but none of his novels.
      I love your description of hos Gabaldon draws the reader into the sensory aspects of her setting.

      Like

  2. jbrayweber says:

    Great post, Jeff.
    Being a freelance editor, I’ve read many different genres. However, for pleasure, my favorites would be paranormal romance, historical romance (though I’m not as fond of the popular Regency romance), historical fiction, and supernatural thrillers/mysteries/horror. That said, a great story can come in any genre.
    Hope y’all are staying healthy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks, Jenn. Yeah, we’re doing okay here in Possum Trot. But I wish the CoVid19 would “go away” and never return. I feel so awful for the small businesses, many of which were barely making ends meet even before all their customers were run off by the federal and state edicts.
      Yes, a great story can come in any genre. And what I learned when I finally delved into Westerns and Romances is that I’d simply been missing out all those years because of what I ASSUMED those books were like.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is amazing, isn’t it, where we once had no interest in a genre to suddenly be tossed into it and it become part of our ‘literary journey’?
    (UFOs? Oh, I could tell you a few experiences. Let me know if you want to hear what I have seen.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I would love to know about your UFO experiences. Maybe we should make this a topic on the next quarter at 4F1H. That will be your schedule to create… how about it?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Heeeey! Are you calling me a literary snob? Just because I have preferences? Well! I never! LOL

    And another Heeeeeeeeeeey! Where does my Romantic Suspense fall into your listings? Hmmmm

    But I do see what you mean about reading almost everything. That’s great. I guess we can say that you’re “well-rounded.” LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      LOL. My dad was a literary snob. He disdained things like Reader’s Digest, which I began reading later in life and have enjoyed.
      Romantic Suspense is one of those numerous sub-categories under that broader umbrella of “Romance” — at least to me.
      Yeah, I’m getting more and more rounded with each week of this sheltering-in-place.

      Like

  5. claycormany says:

    I enjoy novels about the English navy during the Age of Fighting Sail, roughly from 1760 to 1820. The Hornblower series by C.S. Forester, the Bolitho series by Alexander Kent, and the Jack Aubrey stories by Patrick O’Brien all held my interest from cover to cover. I find these stories enjoyable in part because the characters have to use their wits and imagination to overcome challenges rather than technology. In the realm of nonfiction, anything about Abe Lincoln is going to catch my eye. One of my favorite Lincoln books is The Case of Abraham Lincoln by Julie Fenster. It covers Honest Abe’s career as a lawyer before he achieved fame.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I’ve never read any of those books, Clay, but I’ve loved the “sea” movies of that era.
      One of my favorites is a Gregory Peck film with Virginia Mayo. Can’t recall the name right now.
      Have you read the book, “Lincoln’s Ladies”?
      It’s about his mom, his early fiance, and (of course) Mary Todd. And I think somebody else was in there.

      Like

      • claycormany says:

        The Gregory Peck movie was Captain Horatio Hornblower from 1951. It followed the plot of the book quite closely. I haven’t read Lincoln’s Ladies, but I’ll put that on my reading list. Alas, there are about 10 books ahead of it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jeff Salter says:

          did you like Russell Crowe as a Brit naval captain? Can’t recall the title of the movie.

          Like

          • claycormany says:

            Yes, he came across very well as Jack Aubrey. The title of the movie (and book) is Master and Commander. It won an academy award for cinematography in either 2004 or 2005.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Carol Todd says:

    This was interesting. I used to love horror, but horror has changed, so I only enjoy classic horror or stuff that doesn’t get gory or too terrifying. That said, I really enjoyed Dean Koontz’s work early on – not so much any more. Sometimes horror/sci-fi gets too real and then I will pass. I like almost every genre to a greater or less degree. I like historical fiction and also alternative historical fantasy, dystopic pieces, and lots more. I like non-fiction of many types. Basically, with regard to fiction, I like a good story. I read young adult stuff because they are amazingly fast reads. Just fun for me, regardless of genre. I don’t care for books that are sad, regardless of genre, but sometimes they are more tolerable depending… Jeff, I love your books because they are quick reads, really entertaining, and uplifting. Exactly what I want for an evening’s reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      thanks for your kind words about my books, Carol.
      Yeah, the more classic horror would possible still be readable (to me), but not the mindless slasher stuff that seems to be so prevalent now-a-days.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I think you’re right when you say that lots of books are blended genres. I know some of mine are. I don’t blame you about the demons and evil spirits works. I don’t like them either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      It’s actually quite frightening to me to realize that even by doing something relatively innocent — like “playing” with a ouija board as a kid — can actually become a dangerous “opening” for evil spirits to gain a foothold.

      Like

  8. Patricia Kiyono says:

    You definitely read a wider variety than most! I have to agree with your “don’t read” list. And I’ve read a few genres, like steampunk and legal thrillers, that I never thought I’d enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I have not yet tried steampunk, but since I enjoy reading about the Victorian era, I think I may like those books.
      Not certain I’ve read any legal thrillers, but I’ve like some of those novels made into movies, so those would be worth a try also.

      Like

  9. Louis L ‘Amour is great! I used to borrow my dad’s bools when I was younger. He had shelves full.of western books.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. trishafaye says:

    Thanks for a great post I enjoyed reading! I think you’re right, so many books out there are not tried and true in one genre. I see a lot that carry characteristics from several different genres. I’m with you on the SciFi. That’s one I don’t read in and have no desire. Yet, I watched every episode of Twilight Zone I could find. (And thanks for the warning, I think I’ll steer clear of Congo LOL)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      LOL. the other reason that all the endless pages of description on their whiz-bang equipment and technology is that it was so DATED. If the stuff he was describing in his CONGO novel was breath-taking cutting-edge back when he wrote and published that story… it was ho hum, dial-up modem archaic by the time I read id.

      Liked by 1 person

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