Changing Tastes

Time was when I could safely pick up a screamingly 'Girly' book in whichever shop I was in at the time (C&A excluded, of course) and instinctively know I'd like it.  And even if I didn't properly love it, I'd maybe become it's second best friend, twice removed or something.  I was just safe in the knowldege that I wouldn't NOT like it; that's my point.

I could skirt over the irritatingly obscure names of the MC's (Ebonie, Sherlaine, Twinkzie, Jezzabelle - that sort of nonsense) and during my formative years I didn't even mind very much that I learned a lot more  about horses than was absolutely necessary.  Jilly Cooper was the dog's doodaghs to this impressionable tweenager and I still have a lot of love for the cheerful gappy-toothed author.  She got me through many a rainy day, even though for years I was convinced an orgasm was probably something only seen on display at the organic farmers market every Wednesday and as my mother clearly didn't know how to prepare one, THAT was why I'd never had one.

And I didn't mind too much that these stories of Ella-the-downtrodden-but-feisty-button-nosed-brunette-who-secretly(but to we readers)-enjoyed-fantasies-of-fairytale-love-and-yawn-yawn-finally-got-it-on-the-last-but-one-page.... much.  But then, like my predeliction for roasted sweet peppers, although I knew I was going to have a perfectly nice time whilst they were in front of me, once I'd digested them, they'd start to upset my insides a bit. 

There isn't a Rennie in the world that can take away the distended feeling inside that this really isn't quite your cup of tea anymore, actually, and you need to find something a bit more... well, agreeable; something that you can rely on won't leave a bad taste in your mouth and have you retching over the literary toilet pan unless you  hurl this particular forray of female fiction in aforehand.

I've kind of shifted sideways in my reading fodder.  No more do I chuckle and gurn at Ella's silly girly trips over the path to predictable true love.  No longer do I have the tolerance for MC's who insist on bringing their monosyllabic, snotty kids into the frame and NO WAY am I putting up with a wizard and/or vampires and werewolves.

So, after having stood at my personal book-buffet for the past 2 years or so, I think I now know which particular tome I can reach out and open without needing an accompanying paper bag.
Give me an edgy, unsympathetic main character who doesn't even own a Louis Vittuon handbag let alone crave ("crave", I ask you) a matching pair of heels.  And please don't let her have just been dumped or be best friends with the guy who turns out to be the love of her life If Only She'd Known.

Equally I don't want an Aga, a cute dog (unless they belong to any of Jenny Crusie's MC's because she does them SO well) and a well-meaning mother/best friend who steals the spotlight and gets my lionsshare of love, meaning I couldn't care less where MC ends up.
I don't mind a bit of gore; sadness; deviation.  I can put up with paranormal possibilities and as long as  sex isn't graphic I can get through those bits too.  Too many detectives with too many weird surnames starts to confuse me and I don't want too many secondary characters with their own stories so that I end up losing my thread. And I like a twist but not a tangle.

My taste has certainly changed.  I'm not sure what it says or what it means but I'm very aware of reaching out for the darker, grittier looking covers on the shelves these days, knowing that I'll get a lot more satisfaction out of something a bit less fanciful and lightweight than I used to.  I wonder what I'll be devouring in another 10-20 years' time - a bit of gentle James Herriott perhaps or even *shudder* autobiographies of TV stars who've brightened up my living room over the decades. Maybe I'll even return to Jolly Jilly again.

Have YOUR reading tastes evolved with you or are you a once-a-fan-always-a-fan?

Equally I also can't say Donny Osmond does the same thing to me now as he did when he sang Puppy Love in that field in the 70's but then he probably wouldn't look at me twice these days either.


Gillian McDade said...

Danielle Steele's books were great summer reads and a welcome break from uni lit. However they'll stay in 1995 thanks. Now I'm more of a Booker/Orange prize reader.

DT said...

I suppose it's all down to identification on the one hand and escape on the other, with a healthy dose of what's in vogue (generally I mean, not the magazine). I think it helps to be exposed to great writing at a young age in the same way that eating greens becomes second nature, eventually.

Lindsay said...

You might just like my MC in WIP - Chicklit for the over 50s. She's 50single, independent, (kid's grown up,) can't wear high heels without wobbling, spent less than fifty quid on her handbag, needs BridgetJones pants (and the rest) but still has it, quite a lot of it, and is quite happy to flaunt it for the right guy. It's the men who are the problem. Single gorgeous men of 50+ are in short supply.

Jane Lovering said...

I, too, used to love the predictability of these giggle-fests. The idea of a heroine who spent more on shoes than food - when I lived at home suffering my mother's cooking, that seemed like a great idea! Then real life struck, I realised that the wonderful, gorgeous, sensitive guy next door was actually still single FOR A VERY GOOD REASON, that kids need feeding not Faith sandals and that good enough was sometimes good enough. And all those heroines holding out for Mr Perfect suddenly looked juvenile and ill-informed.

I guess it's just our age, dear.

Abi Burlingham said...

After an initial burst of Catherine Cookson (late teens, early twenties) and reading a lot of classics - Dickens, the Brontes etc, and a short burst on crime novels, I seemed to find myself reading a lot of contemporary and literary fiction - writers like Peter Carey, Jon McGregor Markus Zusak, Audrey Niffenegger are all faves!

Debs Riccio said...

Hmm, "chicklit for the over 50's" - been wondering what that might be called, Lindsay - there's already Hen-lit isnt' there? That must be for the grown-up chicks, no?

Helen Black said...

Although there are some books I wouldn't particularly wish to revisit there are many that I rushed through as a young 'un, but only now can see the true craft involved.

King is a case in point. At the age of sixteen I just loved the frisson of Carrie. But now I can see it is the work of a great writer.
HB x

Abigail Cash said...

Love this post! Interesting observations.

My tastes have definitely changed. I was way more of an "Anne of Green Gables" girl than a stereotypical chicklit reader. As a teen and young adult I fell back on the kind of comforting characters I loved as a child - Anne, Meg from A Wrinkle in Time, and Laura Ingalls on the prairie. I still like to page through those books on occasion, but my new favorites tend to have a darker bend to them. I like the anti-heroes, the ones who have a chip on their shoulder and don't give a damn. All the sugary sweetness you're describing (Louis Vuitton et. al.) was always a little too much for me.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

I have just read four novels and been unable to finish any of them. This coming from someone who hates to give up on a book. I think it may be telling me something about my literary taste being in transition. Or something.
I'm glad I was forced to read 'improving' literature until I was in my twenties. At least it gave me a decent foundation. The stuff I read thereafter was definitely not been 'improving'.