Thursday, September 18, 2014

Odd Reading Habits

When I was in high school, one of my teachers was an avid reader, but there was a catch - he only ever read James Michener novel or reread The Lord of the Rings. Why?

I have no idea.

I found it fascinating though that someone who loved to read restricted himself to only those books. He even commented that he sometimes got tired carrying around a Michener heavy-weight novel, but he did it anyway. That was many many years ago, and maybe he eventually read all of Michener's novel and found another historical author to follow. But the thought and the image of that huge Michener novel sitting on the top of that file cabinet where he brought it in and set it every day that semester has never left my mind.

His love of Michener made me rethink my opinion of the author. At that point in my young reading life, I had read Space and enjoyed it well enough, but nothing else by the author compelled me enough to read anything else by him. Then his novel Texas came out and was a colossal sized book. At that time I was obsessed with reading exceptionally long books (one day I'll write about how I discovered Hubbard's Battlefield Earth), so Texas seemed like the perfect book to add to my "to be read" pile. My parents must have put two and two together (they had seen me reading Michener and knew I had developed a recent obsession 1000-plus page books) and bought Texas for me in hardcover for Christmas. The only problem was they also bought me the Stephen King short story collection Skeleton Crew and an omnibus of the Richard Bachman books. Considering that at the time I was practically obsessed with Stephen King, Michener was going to have to wait.

Michener is still waiting because I just never got back to that Texas-sized novel. But I never let it go, either. It's remained on my bookshelf all these years, hardly opened, and ready for me to read at any time. I occasionally lug it off the shelf, flip through those 1000-plus, view that exceptionally small print (especially in such a long novel) and ask myself if I'm ready to commit so much time to a novel about the state of Texas. I'm never quite ready. Every year I make the resolution that this will be the year I finally read it, but I also make the resolution to read the unabridged version of Les Miserables, Anna Karenina, The Satanic Verses, and reread Vanity Fair, The Mill on the Floss, Barchester Towers, and Battlefield Earth. None of which ever happens. I have too many other books to read.

It's September now. I have a stack of books I need to read before the end of the year, and I just don't see Texas moving from the "to be read" pile to the "read" pile by December 31.

Oh well... there's always next year.

Until Next Time...
Colossally Yours,
Michael

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Labels within Labels


When we think of genre, we think in general terms of science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, etc. But within each genre, there are subgenres, usually known only to the fans of that particular genre, and created as a means of helping to communicate to other fans of the genre what they can expect from a certain author or title. For instance, many people think of Star Wars as science fiction, but ask any science fiction fan what genre Star Wars belongs in and the answer will be either space opera and science fantasy.

So off the top of my head, I tried to list out all the different subgenres within each genre.

Fantasy:
epic, fairy tale, gothic, magic realism, myth, legend, traditional, dark fantasy, fable, folktale, light fantasy, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy

Science Fiction:
alternate history, cyberpunk, futuristic, generation starship, hard science, invasion of Earth, lost colony, lost civilization, parallel worlds, post-nuclear holocaust, space opera, science fantasy, time travel, alien invasion, utopian/dystopian

Mystery:
amateur, cozy, hard-boiled, gum shoe, police procedural, historical, legal, medical, puzzle, locked room, forensic, coroner, whodunit
(I haven't included the suspense or espionage, and to some those are a genre outside of Mystery)

Romance:
(there are about as many categories as there are authors), standard, chick-lit, historic, Amish (yes, I really mean Amish), paranormal, futuristic, dystopian, fantasy, erotica, soft porn, comedy, pagan, RenFaire, foreign, crime, adultery, etc. etc.

I know for a fact that I've forgotten at least six or more subgenres with each of the general genres listed above. And I know that many of the subgenres break down into one more layer of subgenre. But like said, these categories are for the fans who read within those genres, and usually are of little interest to those outside genres.

If you know of any I've missed and can supply a real-world example of it (title and author), please shoot me an email or leave a comment.

Until Next Time,
Categorically Yours,
Michael