Thoughts on Reading, part I

My reading habits: who I read

Someone recently asked me who my favorite author was.  I didn’t have an answer. It was a reasonable question for someone who claims to be a writer and a librarian. Why didn’t I have an answer? It’s a question that has stuck with me and made me think.

Over the years I have tracked my reading habits in a variety of ways. Most recently I have used Goodreads and before that Shelfari. But even before there were websites to track your reading, I listed the titles in a spiral notebook. Looking back over these lists, no one single book or author stands out as an absolute favorite. But it is easy to see some trends:

  • Books by English authors or set in England or Scotland top the list.
  • I read a good number of mysteries, including series by Alexander McCall Smith, Fiona Buckley, and Pat McIntosh (note that two of these take place in Scotland and the other is set in Elizabethan England).
  • The years I worked in a public library, my reading was both more plentiful and more varied.
  • During times of stress, I borrow Georgette Heyer’s novels from my mother and reread old favorites. I would say that I also read Jane Austen when life is stressful, but the truth is that I watch movies based on the books rather than read the books.
  • I have read many books by W. Somerset Maugham, E.M. Forster, and Thornton Wilder and consider them among my favorite writers.
  • I have enjoyed many foreign writers such as Italo Calvino, Milan Kundera, and Paulo Coelho.
  • Tennessee Williams holds a special place in my heart, but I’m not sure I’m willing to say he’s my favorite author. Favorite playwright? Yes.
  • I like books that take place in England around the time my parents were children or young adults, which give me a glimpse into their experiences.
  • Recently I find I’ve been reading books where a house plays a large role. Also, any book where books or book stores or libraries play a role.
  • I read quite a bit of JFIC because that is the material that the kids I work with tend to read. Likewise, I try to read some of what my kids are reading, but they are racing ahead of me and I can’t keep up.
  • Favorite books I’ve read in the past year or so include The Book Thief, and The Moment of Everything.

Reading habits and favorite books are so personal. What appeals to me may not appeal to you, and vice versa. I tend to only read books with happy endings because I am too prone to depression and too easily swayed by the mood of my reading material. I just finished a book in which the characters were a married couple who had trouble communicating. I was grumpy and not a particularly good wife while I read it. I shy away from books about people overcoming enormous obstacles because they wear me out and I’m looking to escape the world’s problems not embrace them.

So, that’s a long answer to a simple question. Who is my favorite author? I don’t have one. I admire all attempts at story creation and the dedication it takes to write a novel. I am learning how hard it can be and I think all efforts should be applauded.

What’s your favorite author? It’s okay if you don’t have an answer, but if you do, why not share?

About Katherine J. Scott

Welcome to my website and blog. I am a writer and librarian interested in historical fiction. My works in progress include a trilogy about a stonemason from Elizabethan England and a novel loosely based on the Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries housed at the Cloisters in New York.
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