Weekly Geeks: Genre Allergies

June 10, 2011 at 12:00 am 14 comments

Given the prompt by Weekly Geeks this week to discuss my genre dislikes and allergies (or, more positively, my genre loves and recommendation), I decided this was a post in need of a list. Because if there is one genre I really love, it’s a good list.

Three Genres I Dislike/Am Allergic To:
1. Boy-fantasy (see: A Game of Thrones and possibly Eragon, if you asked my co-blogger Kate)
2. Stream-of-consciousness anything (which I guess means the Beats are out as a whole)
3. Poetry (unless it’s Tennyson or “Jabberwocky”)

Three Genres I Like and My Recommendations for Starting in Said Genre:
1. Classic literature – If you like stories about society/societal expectations with emphasis on interpersonal relationships, go for Jane Austen. If you’re more into sweeping morality dramas with amazingly descriptive prose, go Dickens. If you prefer plays, you can’t beat Shakespeare and Wilde. And if you’re looking for something more adventurous, go Dumas. Just don’t start with Trollope; I think he’s an acquired taste. :)
2. Historical Fiction – I wouldn’t recommend a particular book for this genre since it’s so varied. Rather, I’d start with either a time period you love or an author you know is good. Because there are a lot of pitfalls in historic fiction, it can be best to start out with a great author and go forward from there. For example, Rushdie writes some great historical fiction even though you wouldn’t immediately classify him strictly as a historical writer. That said, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is amazing (although you should probably also like a dash of the fantastical and magical to enjoy it) and I’d go for Edward Rutherfurd’s Sarum if you’re looking for a book that traipses through just about every conceivable time period at once because you just can’t pick one.
3. Books about Books – Start with Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris and don’t look back. There’s no comparison.

The more I think about it, actually, the more I’ve realized that I really like hybrid genres. By this, I mean mysteries that take place in the past or historical stories that have elements of fantasy in them. Genre mashing can get so creative and interesting, particularly when authors veer into alternate realities or histories.

What about you? What are your favorite/least favorite genres and what would you recommend I start with? And how do you feel about genre mashing?



Entry filed under: Weekly Geeks. Tags: , , , , .

Hotel No Tell by Daphne Uviller Phantoms on the Bookshelves by Jacques Bonnet

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Britney  |  June 10, 2011 at 5:38 am

    I am allergic to mysteries, which is sad because I really want to enjoy the genre! That said I just read Farthing by Jo Walton which is a mystery set in an alternate history – imagine if during World War II the Americans never got involved and the British said “Okay Germany, you can have the entire continent if you just leave us alone.” I’m also allergic to poetry. I can read one poem but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to enjoy a book of them!

    I’d say my favorite genres are running books (for non-runners I just devoured The Long Run which, in addition to being about a runner who is hit by a bus, was greatly informative about the NYC transit strike in 2005) and excellent narrators (see: The Thief).

    • 2. Corey  |  June 11, 2011 at 2:30 am

      I used to think I hated mysteries, too, but then I tried some Elizabeth Peters action and really got into it. She’s quite the gateway drug. (It’s another genre-mash: mystery + historical fiction + anachronistic feminism!)

      • 3. Madame Vauquer  |  June 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm

        I especially love Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. Although for me it fell off a bit as the kids got older and the action began to center on them.

  • 4. Madame Vauquer  |  June 10, 2011 at 7:57 am

    For Classic Literature if you like a bit of everything, try Balzac’s Comedie Humaine. The entire Human Comedy (almost 100 novels and short stories) is available for free download in numerous formats from Project Gutenberg. (A few of Balzac’s non-Comedie works are there also.)

    • 5. Corey  |  June 11, 2011 at 2:31 am

      The Comedie Humaine is such a remarkable literary feat! I read something lately that said apparently Balzac cried out for his fictional doctor from the Comedie on his deathbed.

      • 6. Madame Vauquer  |  June 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm

        Balzac’s long time doctor and friend was named Nacquart and I’ve seen references to the fact that Dr. Horace Bianchon was based on him.

        From _Balzac_ by Frederick Lawton:
        A more probable account tells that Balzac, after one of his fits of gasping, asked Nacquart to say whether he would get better or not. The doctor hesitated, then answered: “You are courageous. I will not hide the truth from you. There is no hope.” The sick man’s face contracted and his fingers clutched the sheet. “How long have I to live?” he questioned after a pause. “You will hardly last the night,” replied Nacquart. There was a fresh silence, broken only by the novelist’s murmuring as if to himself: “If only I had Bianchon, he would save me.”

        A free eText of this biography is available in numerous formats from Project Gutenberg:

  • 7. Becky  |  June 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I love classics, and I just love and adore Anthony Trollope!!! Not that I’d recommend him to just anybody–to those that are “allergic” to classics! I’m also a big fan of historical fiction–and Edward Rutherfurd is one of my favorite authors–I loved London and Sarum especially!

    • 8. Corey  |  June 11, 2011 at 2:32 am

      Yeah, I love Trollope, too! I just don’t think I’d start anyone in on the classics with him.

      And, yes, London and Sarum were so amazing! Did you read his ‘Russka’? It’s the only one I haven’t really tried yet and I’d love to know if it’s any good.

  • 9. Em  |  June 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I’m not one for romance or YA, although this is just being prejudiced as I have never read any…
    My favourite? Just regular fiction. You know, that big group of books that don’t get classified!

    • 10. Corey  |  June 13, 2011 at 5:25 am

      General fiction FTW! I’ve been really enjoying more contemporary general fiction lately, so it’s starting to edge into my awareness more than before.

      And, as someone who has tried both romance and YA just to give them a fair shake, you’re not missing out on anything. Unless you like some unintentional ‘oh lord it’s so bad!’ hilarity in your reading. :)

      • 11. Britney  |  June 13, 2011 at 6:26 am

        I take offense! Some of the best fantasy novels are shelved with the YA books (I’m not talking Twilight, I’m talking Diana Wynne Jones, Megan Whalen Turner, Philip Pullman, and Melina Marchetta). Melina Marchetta’s also written some excellent realistic fiction – also for YAs. Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book, which won just about every prize it was up for, is considered a YA book.

        You can also find “oh lord it’s bad” among the general fiction books.

        I’m just saying.

        • 12. Corey  |  June 13, 2011 at 6:53 am

          Sorry to offend you! I certainly didn’t mean that any genre is infallible (there is LOTS of bad general fiction, you’re right) and I was more referring to romance books being terrible than YA stuff.

        • 13. Britney  |  June 13, 2011 at 6:55 am

          I can’t comment on romance novels. I don’t read them. (Except for some paranormal romance series that I keep finding myself addicted to – darn you, Black Dagger Brotherhood and Psy-Changeling.)

        • 14. Em  |  June 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm

          That’s the problem with shelving and categorising, isn’t it? There are always exceptions and borderlines books.
          I would have never thought Philip Pullman was shelved underYA!
          I have another one for you: why is Mick Gayle shelved under fiction and Jane Green under ChickLit? (the answer is easy!)

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