Top Ten Tuesday: The more things change, the more things stay the same

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Changes In My Reading Life, with the explanation maybe you like different genres or topics, maybe you read faster than you used to, maybe you only like standalones now.

Here are some ways my reading preferences and habits have changed over the years:

1. I read on my Kindle much more frequently than I use to. Probably because it’s so easy and portable (especially since it syncs with my phone app, so I never have to wonder where I left off). Also, my husband is strictly a Kindle reader, and I end up purchasing the Kindle format more often for our shared library.

2. I think I’ve burned out when it comes to reading historical fiction set during the World Wars. I’ve read some amazing novels set during these times, but for right now, other time periods and settings are much more appealing to me.

3. Not so much a fan of high fantasy these days. I can’t be bothered learning entirely new systems of magic or the rules of new kingdoms.

4. I have less patience for books that don’t grab me within the first chapter or so. I have the power to DNF, and I’m not afraid to use it!

5. I’m trying to be much more cautious about requesting ARCs — I need to preserve time for me to read on a whim, and not based on publication date or other commitments.

And here are some things about me as a reader that have not changed at all:

1. I never, ever, ever leave the house without a book — or at the very least, without access to my Kindle app.


2. I continue to buy more books than I can possibly read in a year… or a lifetime.

3. I’m a complete mood reader. Having to stick to a reading plan makes me grumpy.

4. If you want to make friends with me, ask me what I’ve read recently.

5. I skip from genre to genre whenever possible — if I read too many of any one type of book, I can feel myself losing interest and have to switch it up.



How about you? Have you changed as a reader?

If you did a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Genre confusion, part deux

Over a year ago, I wrote a post entitled Genre Confusion, in which I discussed the accidental discovery of a favorite book — which might never have happened if I’d been aware that the book often gets shelved under “romance”, which is not a genre that I typically read.

The issue becomes relevant for me again with a bizarre discovery I made yesterday — or is it a discovery at all?

I started a book fresh from my NetGalley queue and was enjoying the first little bit. Then I thought I’d double-check the page count, seeing as I have a whole lot of must-read books coming up and I want to make sure to pace myself. So I went on Amazon, looked up the book, and scrolled down to the detail section — where lo and behold, I see the books categorized as “Christian fiction”.


Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against Christian fiction or its fans. But not being Christian myself nor the least bit spiritual or religious, I’m not drawn to books with a strongly faith-based or spiritual theme.

And after all, just as we all have our preferred genres, I think most of us have a list of what we won’t read as well. (For the record, mine includes courtroom dramas, extreme violence, and anything with shirtless males and/or cowboys on the cover. Or shirtless cowboys. Whatever). *

*I’d add erotica to the list, except — full disclosure — I did read the 50 Shades books. Can’t fall behind the pop culture zeitgeist, can we?

So… confusion. What to do about my current read?

I went back to NetGalley. Nope, no reference to this book being Christian fiction.

Went to the publisher’s website. Oops. They publish Bibles as well as works of inspirational fiction. Hmmm.

Went to the author’s website. She’s clearly someone of great faith — but also sounds like someone with a great literary background and a totally interesting life.

Did a Google search. Most of the early reviews for this book were by bloggers with faith-oriented blogs.

So what does this mean for me? I Googled the term “Christian fiction”. According to Wikipedia:

In North America, the Christian novel has evolved into a specific genre of its own, written explicitly by and for Christians of a particular type. Such a Christian novel does not have to involve an actual event or character in Bible history. A novel can be Christian in this sense merely because one of its characters either comes to a proper understanding of God and of man’s need for salvation from sin, or faces a crisis of his or her faith.

It goes on to say:

Deborah Bryan of the Kansas Library Association suggests that a Christian fiction writer must comply with certain restraints such as: (1) Accept the truthful authority of the Bible (2) Address dilemmas through faith in Jesus (3) Believe that Jesus died and rose for sins of all people (4) A writer is restricted from writing about certain “taboos.”. She also suggests that this genre of books typically promotes values, teaches a lesson, always has a happy ending (good prevails over evil in all books), adheres to a decency code (certain boundaries such as sexuality, strong language, and topics of such cannot be crossed), and that Christian fiction is created for defined boundaries within a particular community.

While the first paragraph above doesn’t necessarily present a problem for me, the definitions presented in the 2nd paragraph — if adhered to in a a work of fiction — would definitely make that fiction unreadable for me. Hence my current dilemma.

So far, I see nothing in the book that I’m reading that seems outside the realm of mainstream contemporary fiction. It’s the story of a young woman pursuing an education and trying to get past the traumatic events of her childhood. She also happens to be a young woman who immerses herself in classic literature as a way of shielding herself from engagement with the real world. And what I’ve read, I’ve liked. (Granted, I’ve only read about 15%, according to my Kindle — but so far, so good).

If the book continues along the path it’s on, then I think I’ll really enjoy it. I mean, I love main characters who obsess over books! What’s not to love? But if the storyline starts heading into a dogmatic, explicitly faith-based direction, then I may have a problem with it. And to a certain extent, I’d rather know now than invest more time only to be disappointed or turned off later.

And yet… if I hadn’t gone to the Amazon page, I’d have no worries and no preconceptions. So what to do?

In my earlier Genre Confusion post, I advocated for stepping outside of one’s comfort zones, exploring other shelves in the bookstore, and being open to books that sound intriguing, even if their defined genre isn’t in our go-to preferred list.

In keeping with that position, at least for now, I think I’m going to give my current read a bit more time. After all, I like what I’ve read so far, and prior to my Amazon encounter, I thought the synopsis made the book sound quite charming — and never would have known that this was considered “Christian fiction”.

Have you ever been shocked by a book’s genre? Did you ever find yourself reading a type of book that you’d swear you never read? Did you stick with it or drop it like a hot potato?

If you’ve ever had a “genre confusion” moment yourself, please share in the comments!