So there I was, in the local Goodwill. There’s really no pressing reason for me to ever venture into the Denver suburbs again, so why not? My retail senses were blinking sluggishly off and on, so I went through the whole store in a more expedient version than my usual trawl. (Actual source: a luridly printed blazer that stayed where it was, as I could not figure out how to style it.) Picking through the books (which were wildly organized, which disoriented me completely), I found a copy of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger in exactly the condition I like: a paperback from the seventies with gloriously yellow pages and a brightly illustrated cover. I glanced through the copyright page to find the artist, but only discovered who it was when I scrutinized the the upper right hand corner of the drawing: Elizabeth Malczynski.
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
When Anne McCaffrey passed away in 2011, I was saddened, as many people in the sf community were. I was also seized by a sudden urge to go back and read The Dragonriders of Pern. Well, go back… I distinctly remember reading a Pern novel featuring a tall, dark villainess in middle school, but, looking back, I definitely could have just imagined that. In any case, 2011 was when I determined to read Dragonflight and get a toehold back in the series, to see if I wanted to continue or not. Naturally, it took me two years to finally sit down with it. Yeesh.
Do you remember the first book you bought for yourself? Or the first book you checked out of the library? What was it and why did you choose it?
To be totally honest, no. As I’ve mentioned before, my memory prior to fourteen is kind of spotty—I’m not sure if it’s a defense mechanism against my preteen self (who had a whole mass of issues) or because nothing interesting really happened to me until high school. However, by process of elimination, I think we can get somewhere here.
The first novel I bought for myself was, I believe, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which stands on my bookshelf to this day. I cannot remember the first book I checked out of the library, but it was probably one of The Royal Diaries from my middle school library or a Dragonriders of Pern novel.
Have your reading choices changed over the years? Or pretty much stayed the same? (And yes, from childhood to adulthood we usually read different things, but some people stick to basically the same kind of book their entire lives, so…)
My reading choices have definitely changed–I’ve made myself do so. As I’ve mentioned, left to my own devices, I will happily drown myself in speculative fiction. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. But as a writer, a reader, and a critic, I feel it’s more beneficial for me to read widely, so I make sure my reading diet is nice and varied.
And of course, my reading choices have changed more naturally since I was little. While I loved to read, I didn’t read much in middle school, and what I did read was usually something that had a fanbase–Anne McCaffrey comes to mind. I was very character-driven rather than plot-driven. (I was the kind of wee lass who would be inconsolable if a favorite character died, even if they no longer served a purpose or the plot. I have since gotten over that.) I’m very glad I’ve matured and changed over the years.
God* comes to you and tells you that, from this day forward, you may only read ONE type of book–one genre–period, but you get to choose what it is. Classics, Science-Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Cookbooks, History, Business … you can choose, but you only get ONE.
What genre do you pick, and why?
After careful evaluation (of five minutes), I have selected fantasy.
However, genres (like most labels!) aren’t rigid. If I choose fantasy, does that mean I can still read magical realism? Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series is technically science fiction–is that out? Is Disney’s Pocahontas considered fantasy, considering the titular princess magically starts speaking English? At point do fantastical elements constitute fantasy?
Still, fantasy is just my genre. Between The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films, I was reared on amazing fantasy. Anything is possible. It can be an epic story of good versus evil, or it can be a story about messy morality. It can be inspired by Western Europe, or it can be inspired by Asian culture. It can be anything. There’s just so many possibilities within fantasy that I feel fairly confident in choosing just fantasy.