Seasons of Life… and Reading

One thing I’ve been growing increasingly sensitive to is the disparity between my Reading Past and my Reading Present (and my Reading Yet to Come). For example: if you looked at my list of Classics and then at my blog or YouTube channel, you might be disappointed to find that what used to make up a big portion of my reading—the 19th century—is becoming more and more rare a subject.

About ten years ago, a couple of things caused this shift in my reading. One, I (stereotypically) discovered Kafka, who, along with Conrad, changed my reading interests and expectations more radically than I could’ve foreseen. A leanness of vocabulary (with Kafka) and a complexity of thought (Conrad) undermined my satisfaction with much 19th-century literature. Of course, I could still enjoy a good Dostoyevsky novel, and my obsession with Eugene Onegin was not stifled at all. But apart from the Russians, I began to drift away further from ever “getting back to Dickens” or exploring Trollope and Thackeray.

I started reading more nonfiction, too, inspired by my love for history I rediscovered in college. The events of the past 6 years have really made it more difficult to escape into novels. I tried to embrace this tension, looking for intersection points between fiction, history, and current events. It’s been mostly successful reading-wise (although whether it makes me feel any better is debatable!).

All that said… I’m looking for ways to better express these changes on the blog without forgoing past seasons of reading, which are still very valuable to me.

P. S. Am still experimenting with blog designs. Holler if something is hard to find, use, or figure out!

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Marian

Blogger, YouTuber, reader, and scribbler. I love classic literature, tea, and rain, preferably all at once.

11 thoughts on “Seasons of Life… and Reading”

  1. Reading patterns certainly change over a lifetime. Back in my teens/20’s I read Sci-Fi almost exclusively. In my early 20’s I started reading more non-fiction – mostly Science and Military history – before moving more deeply into general History. My fiction reading started changing too – moving away from purely SF to Crime novels and then, slowly, Classics. 45 years ago I was reading 90% fiction. Today I’m reading around 70% non-fiction. You never can quite know for certain where the reading winds will blow you….

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    1. That is so cool! I wonder if people who are readers tend to start out with more specific interests like. It reminds me that for the first 10 years of my reading, mysteries were my favorite. ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. Funnily reading Cyberpunk novels by William Gibson (apparently the ‘Raymond Chandler of SF’) got me into reading actual Raymond Chandler books (which I loved!)… which then led to other ‘Noir’ novels……. [grin]

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  2. i was going to say what CK said but he beat me to it… the main difference i’ve noticed in my advanced age is that my comfort zone has decreased a lot; i used to read more types of lit and enjoyed it more than i do now… i sense my capacity for appreciation has deteriorated, probably because much of human endeavor now seems relatively pointless and inane… i’d rather work on a bike than read, sometimes, but not always… even so, a large difference from fifty years ago…

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  3. actually the above comment wasn’t what i was planning on saying at all. i’ve gotten more interested in obscure historical figures lately, altho i don’t know if it will be a trend or just a flash event. my next post, if i ever get around to typing it out (i’m suffering from summer blahs, i think…) will be on a very important but unrecognized woman in the 19th C. who had a major effect on the contemporary biting edge of science, haha…

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    1. Nice, I’m looking forward to that!
      Though the larger sweeping narratives are interesting, there’s something so much more intriguing about those obscurer characters and events of history. It just adds so much dimension to the big picture.

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  4. I think the change in our reading text reflects our growth as well. 10 years ago historical fiction was my thing; but today while I really do enjoy Historical Fiction, I am a lot more interested in non fiction of all kinds, more into classic literature and women’s writing. I think it is ok to keep changing your tastes because nothing is permanent, then why should our reading be so??!

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  5. I think I’ve always leaned toward being an escapist reader and that has increased majorly the last decade, and while I can (with difficulty) force myself to read out of my comfort zone, I probably won’t return. I also struggle with reading widely with fiction, it’s fiction after all. I mean I see the point but I still need a push to appreciate the point whereas its obvious with nonfiction (I just need a push to read nonfiction period).

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    1. That makes a lot of sense! There’s just nothing like reading a book for sheer enjoyment and the feeling of time travel it gives you. Especially these days, when I’m trying to get away from social media more, I appreciate the escapism in reading a lot. Once in a while, I’ll try something outside my comfort zone that turns into a comfort read… then I feel like I’ve won the reading lottery. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  6. I absolutely adore Kafka whom I also discovered thirteen or so years ago. I started reading such authors as Saramago and Vonnegut after my introduction to him. I have also noticed that I read less 19th century fiction now, though Dickens (and Balzac) does remain one exception for me. I don’t think it will continue for long, but I am still to review Hard Times and Dombey & Son.

    Btw I love the clean design of your blog!

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