This month's "changes" theme strikes close to the heart of my reading life. Since I finished my Master's degree in Summer '07 I've had a luxury I hadn't felt for several years prior to its end. Time to read whatever I want. Now, several months later and with a new full-time college teaching position and lots of writing to do, my uninterrupted reading time has taken a hit, but I still feel the rush of joy in picking up whatever strikes my fancy. Both my fancies and my reading habits seem to have shifted over the years, from the time I started graduate school in 2005 to now.
I suppose there are a number of factors at work including the few years of crunched reading higher education provided, the restrictions, and subsequently the new authors I was exposed to. Modernist writers I wouldn't have picked up otherwise. Young adult and children's books. Comics and graphic novels. While the deadlines loomed large, I certainly sampled an array of books I might never have picked up without the pressure of an education, and somewhere along the way it all seems to have changed me.
Now, after a lifetime of detesting short stories, I can't seem to get enough of them. I gobble up collections by classic authors, respected authors, new-t0-me authors and indies. They sneak into my stacks one after another without fail, and I see them piling up on my wishlist day after day. I buy literary journals, for heaven's sake. Publications like Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and Swink. Publications I never knew existed until I jumped headlong into the short story literary subculture.
Another obvious change is my affinity for audio books. For years I was convinced that audio books put me to sleep. One chance nap while listening to my first audio book attempt...The Picture of Dorian Gray...and I swore them off. A hasty decision on my part? Oh, sure. But one that stuck for a great many years, sadly. Now, faced with a 68-mile round-trip commute every day, I need something other than radio prattle to keep me going, and audio books seem to be just the ticket.
It's amazing to me the changes a reader goes through. While we may love and adore one genre this year, we might foresake it the next. While one author may live in our thoughts endlessly one day the next day he's tossed aside. Not only do the readers change, the genres, books, and technology change, too. I'm suffering from a serious case of "Kindle-lust" as we speak. Damn Amazon and their nifty inventions.
The readerly changes we all undergo are just another reason to celebrate this hobby, habit, way of life. As always, the writers have done a wonderful job interpreting the theme, and I invite you to explore your own "changes" here with us.
Table of Contents, February 2008
Author Interview: Colleen Gleason
Book News: "Titlepage"