Thursday, July 29, 2010

A musing on the (un)diversity of tastes

Tastes. Genres. Favourites.

For some reason, my tastes in movies and tv, and even music, are quite eclectic, but for books, I'm almost always reading teen. (Or I would have said that a month ago at least.) I've watched movies from Funny People, to 27 Dresses, to Star Trek, and liked all of them. I've followed tv series like Glee, Lost, Modern Family, 24. Music, while mostly alt and indie, can be diverse.
But... books? Almost strictly teen. And when I realized that- I started to try to branch out. (Hellooo classics and adult.) I didn't like the idea of being so one-streamed, especially with books, which are hands down my favourite out of books, movies, tv, and music. That said, of course I still love teen. And the teen genre really is diverse.

However, my point of this post is to ruminate on why. My taste in everything else is varied. But I've been reading teen and pretty much only teen for... more than five years now.

I think - though this is only for me personally - the main reason is time. A movie is done by 2 hours, though lately many pass that in length. But in give or take a couple hours, a movie is over. A tv series has weekly installements, an hour a week max. is nothing. Music is just minutes. There is time to not be picky. Because it's so little time. What's an hour or two of your life? A horrible movie would be something you just laugh at for watching and then forget about. You can waste an hour watching a show and then just not watch it anymore.


But a book takes time to read, plus energy on your part to actually read it. Some books - example: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers - may go as fast as 2 hours but most don't. Most surpass that time it takes to watch a movie. Novels can be 300 pages to much, much more. Even the best thick reads - HP much? - that go quickly take time. There's no going around that. (Well, speed-reading and skipping parts, but that's never been my way.) And so instead of branching out and trying something new, it's a lot easier to just stick with what you're used to reading, because you pretty much know you'll like it and it won't be a waste of time.

On top of time, there's also that reading is done alone. You can watch a movie or show with friends, and laugh and talk about it at the same time. Have you tried reading with someone else before? I have. It's annoying and strange, especially if the other person isn't at the same reading speed as you. Reading is inheritantly individualistic. And so your own tastes are really the only ones that matter. A friend can coerce you to watch a movie with them; a friend lending you a book and telling you to read it is a lot different than you actually picking up that book and reading it.

Add the fact that you have to concentrate to read - a tv isn't doing the work for you - and you have another reason. Teen is usually easier to read than adult. Not always, but that's what I've found from what I've read of adult and certainly of the classics. Teen novels have a way of writing that's aimed for teens. Many teens are reluctant readers- they're not going to want to wade through complex sentences and imagery and whatnot.

All this to conclude that while all forms have advantages and disadvantages, that really shouldn't stop me, and those of you, from limiting myself to one genre in whatever form. Just because I've always read teen doesn't mean I should constantly only read teen. Diversity is my new goal.

And so I've challenged myself to actually read some of the classics. I'm about a 1/4 of the way through Wuthering Heights now. I'm off to discover why everyone is obsessed with this Heathcliff.

So what do you all think? Diversify? And what books would you recommend that aren't teen?

- Alex

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