On Genre

In honor of World Book Day, I thought we could have a discussion on genre.

What’s your favorite genre? Do you switch around or stay put?

I’ve been reading so much over the past couple of years that I’ve meandered through several. I always have a tender spot for the classics – especially British literature, but I took a long detour through the science fiction/fantasy aisle that led me into some pretty fantastic worlds (GOT, WOT). I always enjoy a thriller/suspense novel that keeps me guessing and I’ve read some good modern lit lately. I also have a soft spot for guy humor (it’s a guilty pleasure but Tropper makes me laugh out loud.)

I love to read and now that I’m not knee deep in baby dolls and Barbies, I’ve discovered a thing called “time”. When the kids got their cars, it went from “Daddy’s Home!” excitement to “see you later, old man” in what feels like the blink of an eye. But I’m not complaining; I want them to be independent and get on with life. It’s good for them and leaves me time to read.

I listen to books on my commute, too. Do you consider that reading? I do, but some people are opinionated about it. I will always be partial to paper and there here have been a couple that I’ve stopped listening to because the language was so beautiful I wanted to see the printed word. The Goldfinch was one of those.

I stumbled across a title that intrigued me recently: They Both Die in the End. It was listed as YA – which isn’t typical for me. About a year ago a trusted friend recommended a YA book and one of my girls asked me how my vampire love book was coming along. To be precise, it was vampire-werewolf love and It wasn’t going well, either. I don’t understand love on the whole, nor do I want to read about it – especially across monster species.

Anyway, They Both Die in the End has a fantastic premise – there’s a company that knows the day you will die and as a service to you, they let you know early in the day. That way you can do whatever you need to do to make your end day count. We’re introduced to these two young men who both got the call. They are very different, but meet on the “Last Friend app” and spend their time together.

It was so well-written. The characters leapt off the page and the story: WOW! The takeaway is that we should all live every day like it’s our last – a lesson I have learned the hard way. Check out this line, “Every new minute we’re alive is a miracle.”

It is a great book – even with a little romance thrown in because it was handled so well that a guy who doesn’t like to read love stories (me) was okay with it. Anyway, it wasn’t until I was sharing the link to it with my book friend that I noticed on the details tab that it isn’t just YA, it was YA-LGBT – a genre I didn’t know existed. At the same time, I also realized the genre label didn’t matter all that much to me. A good book is a good book.

I’m not sure how 25-year-old Mark would have responded, but the 51-year-old version is much more mellow about such things. Actually, I do know how that young, judgy knucklehead would have responded and it makes me a little sad. These days I think that books should be judged by the content of their pages, not what label classifies them. And we readers should read whatever genre we want or read them all.

Whatever makes us happy.

18 thoughts on “On Genre

  1. The world is ever more “capitalised”. I had to google YA – and then had to be specific: “What is YA?”. It seems such an irrelevant question even for google I had to guess (“Young Adult”). And LGBT is so “old hat” – now with ever more initials being added so that all are included and none excluded!

    “These days I think that books should be judged by the content of their pages, not what label classifies them. And we readers should read whatever genre we want or read them all.”

    Just like music and what “type” I like always seems to be a defining piece of intel on me as a person. Answering “I like what I hear or I don’t” is regarded as unhelpful – perhaps even obstructive! 🙂

    Great read as always Mark and – as usual – as many layers as an onion. Thank you.

  2. Oh Mark! This is a subject near and dear to my bibliophile heart. One of the best gifts my parents gave me and my brother was to never censor our reading. I’m always suspicious of someones motives when they say “don’t read that”. Reading is learning. Fiction or nonfiction. Reading is information and power. Reading is comforting and shocking. Reading is love and death….ahhhh. I might just swoon! 😉

    I read across all genres. Classics are a favorite because, well….they’re classic! There is a reason they have hung around so long. And each genre scratches that particular bibliophile itch in it’s own special way. I usually have multiple books going at once but not usually within the same genre. My 52 year old brain can only handle so much information at once. And if Classics are a favorite…Romance is my least favorite.

    I think YA fiction is very interesting in the way they delve into new and inventive topics and realities. I enjoy the creativity and openness of YA fiction. I wish I had known some of these great YA authors when I was a YA!

    I’m encouraged whenever I see anyone reading in any format. Audio, Kindle, and paper are all reading to me. I do love a real book and collect favorites and classics in first editions or unusual editions. I enjoy taking the books out to dust and care for the bindings and leather. It is usually a long process as I will get distracted and browse the book as though I’m getting reacquainted with an old friend. And really in this crazy, complicated world….books are my friends.

    Thanks for the book suggesting and for sharing your love of reading!

  3. i could not agree with you, mark. i love to read all kinds of genres, tend to follow one area or author for a while and then move on to something else. i also listen to books when commenting and they can be delightful, too. the book you described has such an interesting premise and poses some deep questions. i also agree that no matter the label given to a particular book, many books can be enjoyed by others than those in the target demographic.

      1. thanks, mark. i had to laugh when looking at the typos in my comments to you. in the first sentence, i meant to say that i could not agree more with you, but said i could not agree with you, and secondly, i said i listen to audio books when commenting, instead of when commuting. ) glad you were able to translate my babble into what i really meant to say. )

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