Yesterday I did something unusual: I began reading another historical fiction.
The historical fiction isn’t the weird part, I read historical fiction all the time. But hardly ever do I read two historical fiction books in a row; in fact, I hardly ever read two of any genre in a row. The last book I finished was “The White Princess” by Philippa Gregory about Elizabeth of York; before that, it was a Tamora Pierce book I mentioned in my young adult lit post, and before that it was a nonfiction book about serial killers.
It bores me to read two of the same type of book in a row, even if they belong to the same series. Of course, the problem is I don’t always remember what happened in book one when I crack open book two. The more complex the series, the bigger the problem. I haven’t read the latest installment of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, for example, because the only way it will make sense is if I start the series again. And because I can’t read them all in a row, that’s going to take a reeeeeally long time.
I don’t know anyone else who reads this way. Most people will latch onto something good when they find it. My friend and co-worker Caitlin said she devoured all the Hunger Games books. I’m pretty sure my brother read every James Bond novel back to back. There’s no way I could do that, even for a favorite author. When I finished “Jude the Obscure” by Thomas Hardy, I wanted to compare it to “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” but I just couldn’t bring myself to re-read “Tess.” I had to get out of Wessex. I read this instead.
When I was child, my family would call me a “butterfly reader” because I could read multiple books at the same time. I can’t now that my reading tastes are more sophisticated (usually!) and perhaps my bouncing from genre to genre is a way to compensate for that. When I finish a book, my brain is fed up with thinking about that topic and wants something fresh and new and completely different.
I’m blasting through my latest book, “The Heretic Queen” by Michelle Moran, and I’m not sure what I’ll read next. Sometimes it hits me midbook and I’ll grab my next read immediately; other times I go into my library and run my fingers over the spines until I stop at one that feels right. I can’t force myself to read a book for pleasure, it has to feel right. It’s like when you have a song stuck in your head, you have to listen to that song, not one like it. I have to make sure it’s the book in which I want to lose myself, because once I start the first page, there’s no going back.
Forget what you’re reading now – do you know what you’re going to read next? How do you decide?