The other day I walked through the bookstore carrying–of all things–a book, and Jack said, “That looks your sort of thing.”
“Eh?” I responded, blinking.
“That’s your type of book. I saw it when it came in and figured you’d find it before long.”
Gentle reader, I have never before considered that I have a “type of book,” believing myself more the cereal box variety of bibliophile. Granted, I avoid horror, romance and paperbacks bedecked with sword-wielding bikini-clad blonds, but that doesn’t mean I have a “type.” Of type.
In the warm light of Jack’s “Sometimes the person on the other side of the bed sees things you don’t” smile, I assessed my reading habits. Gosh darn it, he’s right. Here are five things guaranteed to make me like a book:
1) It features a road trip. I don’t care where they’re going or what they do when they get there; if the protagonists are driving, flying, walking, or boating across a big space, I’m in. Queen of the Road, The Great Typo Hunt, A Walk Across America, A Walk in the Woods, even The Long Walk (an escape book from the Gulag years). Heck, one of my all-time favorite pieces of music is Brendan’s Voyage, in which Shawn Davey scored the adventures of two modern guys replicating a monk’s coracle voyage from Ireland to Newfoundland. If the main characters are moving, it’s good enough for me.
2) It’s a fictitious story of a child growing up without recognizing what’s going on around her. I love stories that involve children’s innocence protecting them. Trezza Azzopardi’s Remember Me. The Murderer’s Daughters. Girlchild (a bit less innocent, perhaps). But it has to be fiction; A Child Called It left me cold. Sure, a psychiatrist could help me understand why, but I’ll stick with enjoying the never-ending stream of fiction traffic clogging dysfunction junction.
3) It’s a true story of simple living told with humor. Sweaterwise: My Year of Knitting Dangerously. The $64 Tomato. Farewell, My Subaru. How Many Hills to Hillsboro. Mud Season. Heart in the Right Place. American Shaolin (although that’s maybe not so simple; the guy moved to Asia and enrolled in a monastery). One can get tired of yuppies run amok among the greener grasses on the fence’s other side, total life changes, or even strange gimmicky publicity stunts akin to reality television for the memoir market. (How low can one go to get a book deal? Don’t answer that.) The “at home” memoirs still delight me.
4) Any book with that gilt foil paint stuff on its cover. The Rose of Sebastopol wasn’t a favorite, but I read it because of its gilt flower frame. The Reluctant Fundamentalist sported foil letters. I even enjoy The Royal Diaries series for girls. Put gold on the cover, and you had me at hello.
This makes me shallow, right? I accept that.
5) Historic fiction with strong female leads. Yes, Philippa Gregory has a lot to answer for; I don’t even like the way Robin Maxwell writes; but if it’s about an ordinary woman caught in extraordinary times (Tudor dynasty, Spanish Diaspora, Druidic and Christian worldviews clashing) color me there. Caveat: the books in this camp range from brain bubblegum to intensely well-researched dissertations-as-narrative; choose wisely. I did once throw Katie Hickman across the room in exasperation.
So now you know: left to my own devices, these are the books I gravitate toward. What’s your type of type?
Oh, we share an affinity for what I like to call “the quest” genre. I adore Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail- it’s my favorite book to hand sell to customers who need a laugh! I also love Cold Mountain, The Hobbit, The Odyssey, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God as great journey reads. Oh, and all the Little House books, which I’ve read a hundred times over and still have great affection for planting the wanderlust seed!
Jumping on the “fiction traffic clogging dysfunction junction”, I enthusiastically recommend Jeanette Wall’s The Glass Castle (no, it’s not fiction, but truly spectacular) and, though difficult to read, Room by Emma Donoghue and We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver are genius. I could. not. get through A Child Called It.
Mud Season is on my to-read list as someone told me if I loved a certain Wendy Welch book, I would enjoy Ellen Stimson’s book as well. 🙂
I can relate to 1 because I thoroughly enjoyed A Walk Across America, in a way Christy fits in with 2, Forty Acres and No Mule, which I’ve read numerous times, fit with number 3, nothing came to mind for 4, and That Camden Summer came to mind for 5.
Hope both of you, and your friends, have read David Rosenfelt’s “Dogtripping”. He’s an excellent writer of mysteries, which I’m sure you already know, but this book about his move to Maine with his pack of rescue dogs is hilariously wonderful! Love all the books you mentioned above and am such a fan of BOTH of you and your store!
I will look forward to reading this, Linda! Thanks.
Have loved biography since the orange bound ones on the bottom shelf in elementary school…..Dolly Madison, Clara Barton, etc…. I like living abroad books….My year in Provence, the one in Tuscany whose name escapes me, autobiography of course, ones set in Hawaii, Shanghi…..Lisa Sea, Amy Tan, Pat Conroy…..I see to like reading about severe disjunction…..have no idea why. Also love Torey Hayden, about the only writer whose main characters are teachers and students.
Pingback: What type of Type is your Type? | ChristianBookBarn.com
Books with heart, humor, women…those that celebrate the eccentricities of Southern life. Do you have any of those you listed with Farewell, My Subaru in the shop? Really liked that book and it has influenced the way my nose works when I see the word “biodiesel.”
Full disclosure…sometimes when I’m in a total drought of what to read I will read a Harlequin. It’s like eating potato chips…no real redeeming value, kind of yummy and totally forgettable. I’ve taken the and put them inside another book’s book jacket!! Ha ha
That is funny, Eva! About once a year I read a Harlequin (or related romance). And it’s always because there’s a sense of humor on the back blurb, or the title is just too great to pass up (Fulk the Reluctant, Falling for You, etc)
We have a couple of Farewell My Subaru-related titles right now. How far away do you live?
Hi Wendy–love your book and blog! i love the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.
Thanks! We had a “Who’s your Book Daddy?” contest awhile back, and Jamie won handily.
First and foremost: historical mysteries – Greeks up until 1930s. WWII = blech. I love cold case crimes. Court intrigue. Books written in first person catch my eye. “Quirky” nonfiction or books about books.
I loved _The $64 Tomato_. Great book! And _Little Princes_ is on my list of things to read in 2014.
I like the road trip books too. Blue Highways (Least Heat-Moon), and the Bean Trees (Kingsolver), are among my favorites. Anything about Africa that’s not too bleak, so the McCall Smith No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and Nicholas Drayson’s Guide to the Birds of East Africa. Having a “type” means having ideas, interests. The idea is that your interests change (if you’re alive).
Interesting question! I remember organizing my favorites of the books I’d read one year by motifs…haven’t added enough novels to my “favorites” list to have done this since age 16. (I like memoirs, diaries, essays, even blogs better than novels, for almost everyone who’s written both…)
At 16…don’t remember all motifs, but I liked independent heroines, was always hoping for an anti-romance ending because there was TOO MUCH ROMANCE OUT THERE ALREADY, think I was already looking for the self-accepting introvert perspective although I wouldn’t have used that phrase; was always looking for musicians and writers, hillbillies, and animal stories but was very judgmental of badly done ones; didn’t mind believable male supporting characters (friends, brothers, cousins) but hated stories where the author seemed to share the girl’s infatuation and made the “boyfriend” into some sort of parent-surrogate.
At 50…as a bookseller I read everything and refuse to sell very little, but I generally like novels with some sense of humor, with a strong sense of place (even if it’s a place where I’m glad I’ve never been), with a self-accepting introvert perspective, with a mature view of sexuality (i.e. people feel attractions but don’t build their whole lives around them), with characters who are creative and intelligent and spiritual if not exclusively in one way. And I can happily read a story of any length about a character of any age, but I remember, at age FIVE, hating the pandering/patronizing tone of stories where a child is not just (believably) in the right place at the right time, but is SMARTER than all the adults around him even if they’re SPACESHIP PILOTS.