Thoughts: On figuring preferences out.

I like to challenge myself in my reading. I like to discover genres that I enjoy and I want to read as broadly as possible. When I started reading more short story collections I was unsure how that experiment would go (spoiler: it went really well.) but I went ahead anyways. It took a while to feel like it’s a genre I have a handle on and know what I like and don’t like. And if I am perfectly honest, I am still unsure whether I really have figured that last part out.

I like a great variety of genres: Fantasy and its subgenres, fiction (general and literary), memoirs (especially those written by women), short stories, re-tellings…

But I am starting to figure a few things out:

  1. I gravitate towards stories told or framed in an unconventional way (which is why I LOVE Christa Wolf’s Kassandra, or David Mitchell’s work).
  2. I LOVE stories that jump in time.
  3. I enjoy both highly introspective books as well as those with alternating viewpoints.
  4. I don’t care whether a book is told from first or third person perspective, but I LOVE short stories from a first-person-plural perspective and I adore N. K. Jemisin‘s guts to start her trilogy off in a second person narrative (Also, if you haven’t read her you really really should).
  5. I often prefer fiction by women, especially fantasy, but a few of my all time favourite authors are men (Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, or Anthony Marra come to mind).
  6. In non-fiction I really really prefer books written by women.
  7. I struggle with historical fiction (The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock being a recent example: everybody seems to love it and I found beyond slow).
  8. I have not felt like reading YA in a while and have very few YA books left on my physical TBR shelves.
  9. There are a few genres I very rarely read: anything crime related (especially psychological thrillers), erotica, and romance. And I read nearly no poetry anymore (that is a point for another discussion though because here I have complicated feelings about my English proficiency and how that relates to poetry).

But even though I know so much about my reading tastes, I am really not all that great at a) sticking with my gut feeling – which is why I sometimes end up with ARCs that I really should have ended up with and b) anticipating which books I will love beyond measure. But I guess that is fine because everything else would be kind of boring.

I am partly writing this to remind myself what works for me and partly to see what might have changed next year at this time. Because while I am reading more sci-fi this year I will for sure add another project to my reading next year (even though I am not sure what that will be just yet).

What are the oddly specific things you like or dislike in fiction or non-fiction?


6 thoughts on “Thoughts: On figuring preferences out.

  1. I fluctuate among genres – when I like a book I look for others in the genre until I get tired of it. I never read memoirs (until I wrote one – see my post about that) I never read crime until recently. I don’t love fantasy or erotica, until I read Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel” series… Um.. I guess I sound like you, Hannah! đŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was living in Italy I had to take a class on contemporary Italian poetry and I probably understood about 15% of what I read. It was the worst feeling in the world for my morale. Granted I’m not a big poetry person to begin with so a lot of English poetry also baffles me, but when it’s not your native language it’s about 5000x more challenging. Anyway, I’m with you on the vast majority of these, but (obviously) I do quite like thrillers and historical fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s weird for me – because I don’t struggle with books at all, or theoretical texts or anything like that, but I just don’t feel poetry in English the same way I do in German.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I attended an MFA program in experimental fiction. I have SO MANY books I could recommend that for your preferences. You could be even more specific and I could recommend something.


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