Grace here, typing away in my pajamas and fighting some yawns. While I should be sleeping and gearing up for the next days, I’ve spent the past hour or so stalking my own blog (oops) and trying to pinpoint my taste.
In some ways, my taste has remained the same it’s always been: primarily focused on the writing, appreciative of literary risk, but with a backbone of any character and story that’s vivid. That sounds pretty simple, right? Just the mark of a good book in general. The specifics of what that means though have changed.
I don’t know whether I can point definitively to these genres as encapsulating the taste I’ve developed for myself over the years but, at the very least, these are genres that have captivated me in recent years — and will likely continue to as I read more.
I would like this to count as my formal request to bring back paranormal releases. Over winter break, I was trying to read finale books because I am the worst person ever in trilogies — bring back trilogies too, publishing industry! — and my heart was racing. I forgot how exhilarating it is to read urban fantasy.
While I enjoy high fantasy if done well, here’s a confession: I find a lot of it to be incredibly similar and therefore boring to me. Like, at a certain point, the Grisha books and Throne of Glass and all blurred together. Also, I thought Red Queen wasn’t good and so I hate all the hype surrounding it. (That’s a rant for another time — I think it’s way too derivative of other books and nothing about it stands out to me.)
Don’t get me wrong. I can dig a solid fantasy. But there’s nothing quite like the seamless integration of action and fable with everyday life. I love the sensation that it could all be just out there, waiting for you.
There’s a reason contemporary books are so popular. Still, contemporary fiction can be a wishy-washy label. We actually had this debate in my Modern American Fiction class a week or two ago but what’s involved in contemporary fiction? Literary fiction? “Narrative realism” might be a more apt term, but even that doesn’t capture the nuances of what I prefer within that. So in this case, I rely on subgenres. I’m a big fan of beach reads. I love anything lyrical — like I said, I’m a writing-oriented gal. I’m not a big fan of harsh or unnecessarily pessimistic fiction, or instalove. Not a big fan of anything that feels like it has a template. But I love romance, I love coming-of-ages with deep thinkers, and I love specific detail pairings that paint vivid pictures. If that doesn’t quite make sense, think Nina LaCour, Morgan Matson, Melina Marchetta, Lauren Oliver…
Also, this doesn’t even just include “narrative realism.” I mean books like A Study in Charlotte too that I hesitate to categorize as straight mystery. Elements that I could recognize in my own life, wrapped up in cinematic and engaging details.
As I’ve mentioned before, 2017 was a huge year for me in terms of expanding my reading taste. I’m still bigger on fiction than nonfiction, but if I’m going to read anything, it’ll be pop-sci. I’ve done a lot of research on this as a genre because I’m working on a project about it for my Scientist As National Hero history class (!!!) and pop-sci describes essentially when scientists write about esoteric topics for the broader public. I love reading about physics, astronomy, and the philosophical implications of both those subjects — but I can’t actually read raw research about it because a lot of the jargon goes over my head. I love studying science through different lenses. I’m obsessed with books by folks like Brian Greene and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
While describing my reading taste to a friend last year, I realized that I had just regurgitated the straight definition for magical realism. I love the amount of risk and absurdity that comes with it, the toeing of that ethereal line. I feel like magical realism is one of the hardest genres to write well, which is why they always impress me. The subtlety and thematic undertones kill me, and normally they have that poetic flair that lets me savor my reads for ages. Plus, I love writing that incorporates synesthesia, and magical realism is prime for that. While I’m significantly pickier about magical realism books, ones that I take to almost immediately jump to the top of my favorites list.
Although there are other genres that fall into my favorites, I thought I’d briefly tackle some of my go-to “types” of reads to give y’all a picture of what’s evolved and what’s stayed the same over the past seven years of Words Like Silver. More examples to come soon, I’m sure, but here’s the gist of it.