I read junk
By A Wahoo
I read murder mysteries. It is part of a fascination I have with people dying. I also like to watch Law & Order (regular, CSI, and others), Murder, She Wrote, Matlock, and anything else that begins with a murder and ends with someone dead.
The way I tend to read these is to find an author, and read his or her series until I get bored or discover I don't like them. So far, I keep up with Jonathan Kellerman and his Alex Delaware series, Sue Grafton and her alphabet murders, Joanne Dobson and her English professor slayings. I've dabbled with Agatha Christie, sleuthed with Sherlock Holmes, and I even took a course, Global Detective Fiction where we took a tour around the world reading nothing but whodunits.
I think that what appeals to me the most about this is the routine of it all. While every murder mystery is, of course, different, they are all also basically the same story. Person dies, murder is solved, turn here, twist there, and the murder is solved. With something like the Hardy boys, it's still the same, only instead of murder, it's usually smugglers.
And who can forget who started it all for me? The Hardy boys? Nope. I owe it all to Nancy Drew. My mom started me off with the Nancy Drew series when I was little. And hey, I didn't know Nancy Drew was "for girls" until much later. I read the entire series before my mom let on that the Hardy Boys existed. I tore through them in elementary school.
I guess my mom really decided what I was going to read. Once I got to middle school, she sent me through the books she loved: Catcher in the Rye, The Chocolate War, That was then, This is Now, The Contender, Lord of the Flies, as well as hooking me on Michael Crichton. She's an English teacher, and so I got a good grounding in some of the "classics."
When I got into high school, either reading became dorkier or I just became aware of what a huge dork I was, and futilely attempted to change by reading less. During the summer or over breaks, I would hit John Grisham and maybe tackle a few cheap murder paperbacks, but the volume I read certainly declined.
At the point I am now, I tend to read solely on breaks. The first thing I usually do is pick up the newest in the series I read, and my mom usually has some new ones for me to give a try. Last fall break I sat down and read the entire Harry Potter series. I have a hard time skipping from author to author. Once I find someone I like, I like to read as much by them as I can.
Sometimes, however, overwrought by English-major guilt, I'll go to the bookshelf in the office where the "great" books are. We have our selection of Hemingway and Melville, Welty and Dickinson, Vonnegut and Cervantes. It's not so much that I want to read these books as much as I want to have read them. I never regret having read them once I'm done, but they are usually so demanding mentally that I'm glad to be through with them.
For me, anyway, the "great" books are always more difficult outside of a classroom setting, so that when I am away from a classroom, I just want to read garbage.
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