Daily #50: I like

I almost didn’t realise, but I’ve reached post #50! Still going strong! With this post, I’ll also have cleared 30,000 words on the blog altogether, which is a staggering number for me. I’m looking forward to seeing how my posts continue to help me improve my writing!

Regarding the end of yesterday’s post – I intended to go and try the KFC vegan sandwich today, but when we tried to get there we found that an accident had backed up traffic all the way through town. We’ll be trying again later, so hopefully I’ll be able to give my opinion on it in tomorrow’s post!

Today I’m going to discuss a bit about my taste in books. For a long time, I’ve not had people to discuss reading with, so I haven’t been reflecting on my tastes. Recently, a work friend who is also a writer has lent me a couple of books. One of these was The Tattooist of Auschwitz which I reviewed in a previous daily post. He also recently lent me An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. I enjoyed reading the former; I found it powerful and intriguing. However, although I’m only around 4 chapters into the latter, I’m not enjoying it.

I might write a full review of Hank Green’s book at some point, but in short it’s a contemporary sci-fi novel about a woman who is catapulted into internet fame after filming a video of a robot samurai statue. It sounds absurd as a blurb, but I went into it thinking it would be absurd in that endearing way some books are. At the moment, it’s not scratching that itch for me.

It got me thinking about the kind of fiction I like to read. The person who lent me the book has told me he likes characters he can relate to, in the realistic sense – like contemporary novels based primarily in the real world, where he could feasibly be living that person’s life. While I understand this, I personally have a different taste. I lean towards fantasy epics, and looking back, I’ve done this since I was a child. The Edge Chronicles was my first foray into the genre, and I was riveted – I would create make-believe journies through its unfamiliar world using my stuffed animals, and the endless creatures and environments that the characters encountered would make my imagination run wild.

While fantasy series’ such as A Song of Ice and Fire and The Stormlight Chronicles are at one end of the scale, I enjoy anything where the setting isn’t the real world. I feel I should add a disclaimer here: there are always exceptions to the rule, and I’ve most definitely enjoyed books based in a a real world scenario, but my preferences tend to lead me away from that. Even within those, I enjoy books more when the setting isn’t something I’m able to experience – such as different time periods and different locations. In its distance from my own life, environments like 1970s Texas are as fantastical to me as Westeros.

If I could guess, I think it stems from the fact that I see reading as escapism, like many others. If that’s my goal, why would I want to read a novel about a normal teenager in England falling in love? That’s not a far cry from what I could do in real life, which defeats the object. On the other hand, discovering the secrets of a deadly forest from the perspective of the main character is far more gripping.

I understand my colleague’s point about being able to relate to characters, but I also find that if a character is written well, I can relate to them despite their environment. A tribal chieftain’s son is suddenly promoted to lead his people, and is doesn’t feel he is up to the job? I can relate to that pressure in my own way, regardless of the fact that my real-world career change is a far cry from the horrors of war. A young lady feels stifled by her environment, and unable to pursue her dreams because she needs to be kept safe? Part of me relates to that too.

There’s value in everyone’s opinions on reading. Even the best fantasy novels are a slog for at least half of the first book, as you struggle to place the character in a new world. All tastes are valid, and I like mine just the way it is.

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