Booking through Thursday asks: Have your reading choices changed over the years? Or pretty much stayed the same? (And yes, from childhood to adulthood we usually read different things, but some people stick to basically the same kind of book their entire lives, so…)
My childhood reading consisted mostly of short fiction intended for children, books on animals, and collections of ghost stories. I liked trying to figure out what people might be experiencing other than shades of the deceased. As I grew older I tended to read only from large series: Goosebumps in elementary school, Animorphs in middle school, and California Diaries during high school. I also read the occasional Star Trek novel (with increasing frequency after DS9 ended on TV and began again as a book series) and discovered John Grisham at some point, beginning with The Firm.
In gen-ed college, the idea of learning finally became interesting to me. Two of my instructors were thorough-going intellectuals who delighted in introducing their students to the human experience. I think I read my first pop-history books here (Nothing Like it in the World: Building the Transcontinental Railroad, Stephen Ambrose), as well as finding other books that have remained favorites, like Jerry Flamm’s Good Life in Hard Times: San Francisco’s Twenties and Thirties.
In late 2005, my approach to reading changed rather dramatically. I left the fundamentalist sect of Christianity I’d been raised in, and religion all together at the same time: I’d wanted to leave all throughout 2005, but stumbling across the word humanism made me bolt for freedom. Everything human-related was now gloriously fascinating. I suddenly realized what I wanted to do for a career, and started getting my stalled college career back on track. I started educating myself as best I could in the meantime, reading three to five books a week that were almost wholly nonfiction. In 2007 I started this blog, and those opening posts reflect that this nonfiction streak in my reading was still going strong. I focused on science, having discovered the world anew.
Once I entered formal university studies, the regimen was no longer necessary or possible. Classes, work, and outside research time — plus the joys and trivialities of college life, like hanging around campus with new friend — consumed most of my time. I still read before classes and during work as I could, and later on the weekends, but I shifted to lighter fare like Harry Potter. Nonfiction still remained a strong element in my reading, though, and during the summers I recommitted to it.
Since then, I’ve maintained a steady and possibly balanced diet of fiction and nonfiction, although every year has its flavor: I discovered Isaac Asimov in 2008, reading him almost every week of the summer, and in the next summer I gorged myself on religious philosophy, having become interested in Stoicism and Gandhighiri. My aim is to be well-read, being able to draw upon science, history, philosophy, sociology, and poetry in understanding the world. Along the way I want to enjoy good stories about the human experience.