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When Your Bookshelf Freaks You Out
Category: JUST A GIRL
Tags: bookshelves bookish book preferences just a girl drea damara gaskell larry niven austen funny book blogs page dropper

You know how they say, 'You are what you eat.'? Well, what if we are what we read too?

rabbit hole signI suppose we can break this article down to me having one of those moments where you go way too far down the rabbit hole of self-analysis, but come on - walk with me a while! It'll at least be worth a laugh.

As an author I am constantly faced with the dilemma of choosing the most appropriate genre that my books fit into when it comes time to market them. I was perusing my "read" list trying to understand why I write what I write.  Is it because of what I enjoy reading? As I scanned over all of the books I have read, I began to wonder - why in the hell do I read what I read? Does it say something about me?

It kind of looked like a junk drawer of an unstable person - although, whose junk drawer makes them look stable, if we're being honest here?  I imagined that if someone was applying personality profiling techniques to me based on my reading selection, I would make no sense or worse yet, be voted off an island of population: 2 people.

I have science fiction books from the 1960s - 1970s, and I mean ONLY from the 60s - 70s. il_570xN.1099032707_pcw8I've never been interested in reading sci-fi written in any other decades.  At least not interested enough that I ever picked one up and actually read it.  If faced with an oldie or other, I go with the oldie because I know I'll like it. There was something about the creativity of the stories I never found in post era books of the same genre.  I literally get a rush of excitement when I see or hear something about Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Ray Bradbury, or Robert Heinlein.  What the heck does this say about me? Was I a hippie that got hit by a bus on her way to a sci-fi convention and came back as this hot mess?

Here's where it gets weird - if it wasn't already.

My collection also consists of the following: Western historical romance because modern westerns are too far from reality for me to tolerate, although I've read and enjoyed the ones who get it right and paint life in the west as accurate (like Elise Manion). English regency romance and the Industrial Revolution-era romances - there's something about how much life sucked for women back then that draws me to them. Why do I have such a desire to read about a lifestyle that sucked?

Almost every copy of Mercer Mayer's Little Critter series (if you don't like Little jKL1MHcCritter just step away, man!) - I will leave you no further explanation here other than they're deeply personal to me and I find them adorable. The complete works of William Shakespeare, and almost the entire Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series (because the grandma cracked me up).

Hold on, Betsy. It gets worse...

please-stop-youreCalvin and Hobbes (the complete collection) because there was something adorable about what a genius and bastard that Calvin was and how deviously scary Hobbes could be.  I secretly wondered if somehow all the answers to life were within those comics, like when people say if you play Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" backward, you hear crazy stuff. No, I've never done that - that would just be bonkers!

Elizabeth Gaskell, Jane Austen, J.D. Salinger, George Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway.

Every book I read on forensics in college and kept because the science of the processes was so damned fascinating. About two shelves of non-fiction by authors who basically tried to dissect the origins of terrorism and haven't. I think I was personally trying to understand how awful we've been throughout history and what started it all. World War II non-fiction. Foreign language books galore - oh my!

e8c220cff956a65ba531fd9c25d10694--good-design-art-designLouis L'Amour. Another shelf about emergency management and global warming that scares the poo out of my conservative old-schoolbutt because of all the conservatives who think global warming and asteroid strikes are less believable than unicorns. Wake up people.  Put your criticism in a plastic bag and stick it in the ocean that is your toilet.

Oh, and did I mention my fondness of old-fashioned cookbooks, Joseph Campbell's A Hero's Journey, and collections of classic poetry?

Why do I read about domineering men when I don't want to be dominated? Am I searching for the literary tough guy who is a walking contradiction with a gooey candy center?  How can I learn about how to kill people with only my thumb and household products, but be enough of a pacifist that I want to know foreign languages so we can all talk it out (hug it out), while we walk on a clean beach, toting our crap in a cloth bag, looking out for aliens, meteors, and adorable little critters?

So when people try to sound like they're educated because they've read a lot of different genres of books, I take a cue from my own self-criticism and step back with caution.  You've got what on your shelves?  Oh no! They warned me about people like you! Right this way. We have your reservation - at the freaks' table.

book spiralAlso, I go to book shows or have author interviews and readers always assume I have read every book that they have because I write books.  Clearly, not the case!  As they describe the books they love with wild enthusiasm, all I can think is, please don't ask me what I read. It comes down to this, however, in my opinion.  Read what makes you happy.  "A little learning is a dangerous thing.  Drink deep," as Alexander Pope said.  Don't ever be ashamed to read for educational purposes -  be a sponge.

Okay, I've showed you mine.  Show me yours.  What's on your shelf that makes you look like a scary, complicated enigma?

Happy reading!

- Drea

Drea Damara

Drea Damara is the author of YA fantasy and thriller fiction, as well as, occasional blogger of completely useless information.

 

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