There was a time when I was a genre reader.
A single genre reader.
Which means I read mostly genre fiction, and mostly a certain genre of fiction – to wit, science fiction and fantasy (in their broader sense).
This changed, dramatically, when I was about eighteen years old.
There was no great epiphany, no great watershed moment, no single book I can nail as the one that opened the floodgates, but basically, when I was eighteen or thereabouts, I simply found out that I loved reading.
I loved stories, I loved the possibility of exploring different places, different characters, different situations.
Who cares about genre labels?
So, yes, science fiction and fantasy, adventure stories and mysteries, westerns, pulp and mainstream, comedy, historical fiction, classic Chinese novels, Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. And then biographies and first-hand accounts of travels and explorations, and a ton of scientific essays and literary studies and Zen philosophy, and ghost stories… Even some poetry, although that’s a field in which I’m capricious and discontinuous.
The situation is such that the exchange is usually…
“What kind of books do you like?”
Curiously enough I was made dramatically aware of my condition as an avid, and omnivorous reader, by a fine book called History Will Be Kind, published by The Copperfield Review.
This is the sort of book that I actually cherish!
“Curiously”, I say, because this is after all a single-genre anthology.
The Copperfield Review is, in its own definition, a journal for readers and writers of historical fiction, and the anthology is a fine selection of stories set in other places and times.
And really, what caught me – apart from the single stories, that are of a very high quality – was the variety of the narratives.
Not only does the anthology showcase a great selection of fine authors (among them, my friend Claire, she of the Scribblings blog), but it also serve as a good example of how flexible and diverse and entertaining the field of historical narrative can be.
I suffer1 from what some romantic author called “the fury of owning books”.
… And reading them!, I might add.
Collections like the one from Copperfield serve as a reminder of why such a fury exists in our lives.
- but “to suffer” is the wrong verb, of course. ↩