Portrait of the reader as an older woman

Okay, enough existential angst for the week. Let’s talk about something more interesting.

(And what’s really interesting, and more than a little weird, is that everywhere I go this week the number 42 keeps turning up. It also happens to be my age this year, and, as everyone should know, the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Why 42? What does it mean!? But that’s just a little aside.)

What kind of reader are you? Forget all about this writing business for a moment. It may well be that there are writers who are born fully formed, and who write their masterpieces never having read a complete book in their lives, but I kind of doubt it. I was a reader long before I was a writer.

As a reader, I dabble in a little of everything. There are categories I don’t choose to read in, but I’m also willing to give most anything a try. I’m drawn to character over plot, and to complicated characters more than simply appealing ones. Bittersweet endings interest me more than straight-up happily ever after, because I can buy the happy much more easily if it comes with the sad.

I read on paper when reading for pleasure. I do not own an ereader. If I lived somewhere where downloading a book didn’t require either the patience of a saint or a trip in the car, then I might be more likely to go with electronics, but I don’t. I’m also comforted by the shape and feel of physical books. I relate to them differently than I do to words on a screen. Part of that may also be a function of using a computer to write. A document on a screen feels like work rather than fun.

As the occupant of a very small house, I may need to rethink that idea at some point. In the meantime, I sleep with piles of books by my bed, and by the couch, and anywhere else I might relax.

I read more fiction than nonfiction. I read more adult fiction than children’s or YA. If I’m working on a novel, I avoid reading in the same genre because it muddies the waters for me. My eyes are tired much of the time, so my love of small paperbacks has diminished. If I like an author, I’ll try their stuff across any genre they choose to write in. I reread everything I love, and also some things I only like. I rarely read things when they’re first released, and I almost never look at reviews until after I’ve read something.

Oh, and I have a headlamp for reading at night.

Who are you as a reader?


  1. 42 is a fantastic number. It’s nothing if not flexible. As you are!

    • 42 is a fantastic number. It’s just that it’s, well, everywhere lately. I’m beginning to wonder if I missed a secret memo about something I was supposed to do this year, and these are little reminders. 😉

  2. I read almost anything. As a child, I read the back of the Comet tube while in the bathroom, sneaked the dictionary in with me if not prevented (we had one bathroom in the house). I love cookbooks, travel and culture journals (like Peter Mayle’s books), SF in all varieties, stuff on animals and wildlife…so much! I prefer “real” books, but have an iPad with both iBook and Kindle on it. Mostly the ebooks are periodicals, but i have a couple ebooks there. I also LOVE audio books, since it gives my eyes a break, allows me to accomplish quilting and reading at the same time, and feels so wonderful; when’s the last time someone read to you? I’m a “power user” at any library I live near, and currently hold three valid library cards.

    BTW, are you carrying a towel?:-)

    • I TOTALLY need to be carrying a towel at all times, I think. 🙂

      I used to love reading cookbooks, though I do it less these days. I’ve never been able to get into audiobooks. I think it’s a great idea, and my kids love them for in the car, so maybe I’ll evolve at some point. And libraries…the kids and I have this little game we play about what it would be like to live in the library we use. One of my absolute biggest thrills with Phoenix is that it’s in a library. The Los Angeles Public Library, to be exact. As far as I know, it never goes out (yes, I check sometimes), but it’s there.

      Ah, libraries.

  3. I tend to prefer scifi/fantasy, biographies, sociology and history. I will read other genres they just don’t tend to capture my attention as easily.

    Most of my books come from the library. The rest tend to be e-books (although I don’t own a Kindle or anything like that).

    M.E. Garber, I find it so interesting that you like audio books. I’ve never been able to get into them as they always seem to be read too slowly for my tastes. 🙂

  4. My favorite books? -Are from Goodwill. I always find great authors/titles, for criminally cheap. Every time I go in there I walk out with fifteen to twenty ‘new’ books. I’ll read in any genre. I’ll even read ‘bad’ writing. It makes the good stuff that much better. =)

    • It’s true that good books are that much better after reading some “bad” books. 🙂

      One of my favorite annual events used to be a giant used book sale that was held every spring. It had everything, and I used to stock up, just to have things around for a rainy day. At one point I had quite the collection of Agatha Christies from it.

  5. Speculative fiction, memoir, short stories, like yours. Kudos to you, by the way, for “She Walked Out the Door,” in The Sun (Aug12)–Cosmic underpinnings, beautifully expressed. I cried. I’m very pleased to say that this story led me to your WordPress site.

  6. I was turned on to your In The Library of Souls recently by another word press author who follows you. After totally devouring parts one and two, I had to follow you to find more stories! Thank you for such a fascinating story.
    As a reader I love books, but I have turned that corner to e-reader. It was a reluctant turn at first, but once I got used to it, I’ve come to embrace the technology. And hey, I wouldn’t have found your work if I didn’t crawl out of a hardback book every once in a while!

    • Thanks, Shelly! I completely understand the turn to an e-reader, even more so now that there are so many things only available electronically. There is so much excellent short fiction online these days.

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