Monday, 6 September 2010

My reading time-line

I thought it would be fun to do a time-line of the kinds of books I have read from my mid-teens. Its quite weird to see which books sprang up in my mind depending on the era and also which books or genre I remember not liking. So without further ado........

Aged around 14-16 Two types of genre that I remember reading while in school and they were the point horror books (remember them) which I think pretty much all my friends collected so we could then swap them. The plot of these books was almost always the same, a group of teenagers would go to an isolated cabin/funfair/beach and one by one get killed off by predictably the main heroines ex-boyfriend.

The other type of book that me and my friend Sarah had a thing for were Mills & Boon books. Ah yes the books which are always in stock at your local charity shop. Perhaps it was the predicable romance we fell for, or perhaps being curious teenagers we were just interested in any saucy bits we could find within the pages; I'll leave you to decide which appealed.

Aged 16-20 – I'm not too sure what happened during my late teens (nothing too tragic) but for some reason I dumped the romance completely and focused my full attention onto horror. But point horror books could no longer cut it for me so I seeked out Stephen King, got an obsession with Anne Rice and got grossed out by James Hurbert. No I was not a goth.

Aged 20 – around 27 – I turned my back on Horror and it was during this period that I was more open to different types of writing and genres, I tried out quite a range here. I would quite often wander into a bookshop and just buy whatever took my fancy and read quite a few best-sellers this way like The Secret History and Memoirs of a Geisha. I also read authors from Mary Wesley to Maeve Binchy and read some downright weird stuff courtesy of Will Self and The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks.

But what didn't I like? Well I read my fair share of chick-lit during this time and although some were funny and entertaining they did nothing for me and the fact that I cant remember a single title that I read during this period is testiment to this. I also read quite a few English classics and although Austin was OK and I enjoyed Hardy, I couldn't get through books by Dickens, Bronte or Collins.

Now – Well I wish I could say I am more diverse in my reading choices today but I think I am fussier now than I was in my early 20s. Most of my book choices come from recommendations from other bloggers and I certainly read more now than I ever did. I read a lot more translated works and I am not so much intimidated by more high-brow writers, I am more willing to 'work' at a novel now. Perhaps because of the blogging influence I am more interested in the various literary prizes and am looking forward to viewing the Booker short-list tomorrow.

In terms of the classics, well I do read my fair share but I have noticed that I veer very much over to the classic American writers. Perhaps this is because of my failure with the few classic English writers I tried before? I'm not particularly bothered about this, aside from Henry James, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the American classics I have read and will read authors like Hemingway, Twain, Melville and Faulkner throughout the upcoming months.

The Future? - Well I would like to read more foreign classic fiction especially from the Russians and French. I would also like to read more Japanese contemporary fiction and fiction from other English speaking countries aside from the UK and the USA. Maybe I'll even stick a horror book back into the mix ;)

If you do your own time-line please let me know as I would love to read it.

Posted by Jess


  1. What a wonderful post!! I want to do one like this now. That RL Stine cover? I had that book! I don't even remember it, but when I was about 11-13 years old, I read tons of RL Stine, Christopher Pike, and Lois Duncan. And babysitter's club. I graduated to Stephen King and Sweet Valley High when I was 14, lol! I WAS a goth, but I never liked Anne Rice. And sadly, when I got bored of King and SVH, I gave up on books altogether until I was nearly 22, when I read a classic a week for a year and was hooked. Until two years ago, I read almost nothing but classics for years.

  2. I LOVE this post. I'm thinking of doing my own reading-timeline now! (will link back to you) and even thinking about it makes me a little excited :)

    I read Point Horrors as well, but i had no one to swap with :(

    Good luck with your future reading choices, I think I'd like to read more contemporary Japanese fiction as well..

  3. My time line is quite similar to yours, but I swapped the James Herbet for Virginia Andrews :-)

  4. What a fun idea! I remembered that R.L. Stine book as soon as I saw the cover. I was more of a Christopher Pike reader in those days, but I so loved horror (and don't read it now.) It's fun to see the evolution of ourselves as readers! I've been more of the reader I want to be this year, and I'm enjoying reading much more again. Happy reading!

  5. Amanda - I dont remember many of the books I read during that time but I know I read that book as well. Chris also regonises it but I cant remembe what actually happened in it.

    Clover - please do you own time-line Id be interested in reading it. Whatever happened to point horrors?

    Jackie - I wonder if there is a typical british time-line and we are typical of it then LOL But I think everyone goes through a horror phase.

    Nomadreader - ah another horror fan, funny how we all seemed to grow out of it, I guess because after a while they do become quite similar.

  6. Oh I LOVED point horror as a kid, I've still got quite a collection and read them every now and then for nostalgia, some of them I read so many times I can still tell you exactly what happens.

  7. When I saw your picture of the point horror book, I thought of the Goosebumps books...they were insanely popular in middle school. As far as some Russian and French classics, I'd recommend anything by Tolstoy (especially his novellas and short stories), as well as Madame Bovary and The Stranger.

  8. This is a wonderful post...I love that you can remember so clearly what you were into at various stages...I know my reading tastes change from time to time, but I don't think I could clearly articulate the progression like you did.

    Great blog :)

  9. I'm with you on the foreign classics. I still haven't read Anna Karenina. My timeline is more month-to-month. Each month I read on average 5 books--the selections for my 2 book clubs, plus something that I own, something that I've borrowed, and something current.

  10. mummazappa - I wish I had kept mine. I like The cheerleader was one of my favorites.

    Zara - I have joined the Madame Bovery read-along which is being held in Octobe!

    TheBookGirl - Im sure there were loads of other books I read but these are the ones that jump out at me.

    Patti - I have a copy of Anna Karenina but have yet to read it also. One day.