My Favorite Genres
by Julie Carpenter
Jarad asked to talk about my favorite reading genres this week. I have a question. Are garden catalogs a genre? I’m going with yes.
Actually, I love all sorts of books, but I do tend to gravitate to certain sections of the library or bookstore. As I started to think about what kind of books I like, I also started think about why. Why am I drawn to certain stories above others? What does it say about me? I contemplate the questions what and why below.
Mystery – I love a good mystery and I have ever since I was a kid watching Scooby Doo on Saturday mornings. I can’t get enough of people being frightened, burgled and murdered. I love Martha Grimes, and Laurie King, and Chesterton’s Father Brown series. I was a pretty terrified little kid, so I’ve always wondered what attracted me to this genre. I think perhaps it’s the idea of crime and inhumanity somehow being solved like a puzzle at the end of the story, put back in place somehow, like scattered toys put back on the shelf. Is this realistic? Of course not. Is it comforting? Apparently. (There’s also the matter of setting in mysteries…and food. People are always talking about what they eat, a subject dear to my heart.)
Fairy Tales – I love, love, love fairy tales. I love the idea that the power holding the universe together becomes visible, comes out to play with us. I love endings of the fairy stories. Even the old ones with the horrible endings, although, I prefer happily ever after to getting eaten by a wolf. Still, the endings of fairy tales just seem right. Obvious. Comforting, just like the beginnings. Once upon a time is the door into a better world. Also, the fairies, witches, magic wells, and dragons are conjured out of hiding just out of sight, where we always knew they were, part of some sort of collective dream we all have together.
Gardening – Is this a genre or is it just nonfiction? I’m going to pretend it is. I love gardening books and they should have pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. I like the history of gardens. I like to read about the specific gardens of specific people. I like to read about secret gardens. I like books that are otherwise about a wide variety of topics that happen to have gardens in them. Gardens.
True Crime – I think I like these for the opposite reason I like mysteries and fairy tales. There’s no neat packaging, lots of loose ends, people at their most broken. I read these to see what’s wrong with the human race. I’m always appalled at how often monsters turn out to be…us. They look like us, they act like us, they are sometimes broken by us. How do some people snap? Why are some people incapable of sympathy? How do some humans focus on one charismatic figure to the exclusion of all ordinary concerns to join a cult? It’s fascinating and frightening at the same time.
History/Biography – I love history not because I like to think about the past as a distant land. I like to see how it reaches its tentacles forward into the present to become part of our own narrative. I like to see how people react to the narratives of their own times, what we’ve learned, what still seems opaque to us. I like that history is the story of us. All of us.
That’s where I spend most of my reading time, but I will read almost anything given a chance.
Julie Carpenter is the creator of the Sacred Chickens website. She is dedicated to telling stories and making sure that indie writers and publishers have a way to be heard. She uses narrative, her own and others’, to help interpret the world. She has a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Memphis, with an emphasis in Composition Theory. She wants to bend reality one story at a time. Julie’s work has appeared in Fiction on the Web and will be included The New Guard. She is currently working on a novel.