I remember the feeling of walking into a bookstore, walking to the shelves, and thinking I’ve read all these. I’d then walk to another set of shelves and find more books I had already read. Round and round the store I went, but the sad truth is I hadn’t read close to anything. I was trapped in a mindset. I had about a dozen authors I liked, all dead or retired, and I had read everything they had written commonly carried by bookstores.
I often wonder now what would have happened if I had let myself open up then. The writers I like now were writing then. Some of them even had dozens of books out. I was never opposed to genre fiction. I got into an argument with one of my English professors about how the future will view Stephen King. I used to read James Patterson instead of doing homework. I had no issue with genre fiction until I was in a bookstore shortly after finishing my English degree and having read most of the works of Agatha Christie and Louis L’Armour. For some reason, at that time, I got stuck on reading only high literature of the ’80s and ’90s but not the realists.
There are times when I’d like to travel back to that younger version of myself and ask what was wrong with me. Why did I have this strange feeling? I’d give anything now to go back and start the series I am reading now sooner. I might even be close to done with a few if I had done that.
Instead, I grew to believe I had read everything worth reading and there was nothing left for me. This might be the biggest source of shame in my life. This feeling that I once felt. That I had conquered books and was done.
It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I decided to pick up a book by Harlan Coben. I believe it was either Stephen King mentioning him in The Outsider or a Netflix series that I did it, but from there I suddenly started reading Michael Connelly and then others. I found book groups online for recommendations and even took some suggestions from Amazon.
I am now far less prickish about what books I read and have remembered that I have no dislike for genre fiction.