Why I’m a Picky Reader

Is it just me or do you suffer from illogical fears as well? Some are remnants from childhood and while their power has been diluted by time they still have the power to thrill and make the old ticker beat a little faster for a minute or two while others are new and utterly ridiculous.

For example, when I was little, the first year I was on a swim team our swimsuits were silver. I thought the little kids who swam with us looked like tiny sardines and the rest of us were larger sparkly fish. On its own, that’s fairly benign. However, when I was very little (like, 3) and was first learning to swim, I thought the bottom opened up and sharks would come up to eat us. Maybe I saw the VHS cover of “Jaws” one day by accident. Who knows. Anyways, I also was convinced that the lights at the bottom of the pool walls were windows to the shark tank. I was terrified and to this day I’m still convinced that’s what made me such a strong swimmer. I needed to out race them or at the very least be faster than most of the other potential shark baits.

At 30, that idea still makes me shiver.

Then, just recently, I’ve developed this totally gross, absolutely ludicrous conviction that one day when I’m clearing the bath tub drain (super gross, I know, sorry), I’m going to pull out a shrunken head. Really. A Barbie-sized shrunken head- ears, nose and all. I tell myself that’s impossible because the water would rehydrate it (apparently I think they function like raisins) but each time I reach in to clean it out, I’m convinced there’ll be a head attached. Because you just never know…

I usually love my imagination but there are times when I could really do without one. They turn Haunted Houses into torture devices, scary movies are either watched in fast forward or in the smallest thumbnail-sized screen I can get on my MacBook and I worry for the sanity and state of mind  of authors such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz. The awful things I think of when attempting to write a scary book must be child’s play (don’t get me started on the scary movies from the 80’s- “The Labyrinth” anyone?) for everyone else. Young kids now don’t bat an eyelash at movies that will give me nightmares severe enough to result in flashbacks months later.

I feel like I’m missing out on so much entertainment by being such a wuss but I can’t help it. I love having a life that’s full of happiness, optimism and sunshiny things. It’s like all those literary fiction or serious fiction novels involving rape, incest, death, destruction, torture and all sorts of other awful realities. I feel like I’m missing out on an entire genre of books that I should read, like The Lovely Bones but I just can’t bring myself to pick one up. I listen to the news, I read the paper. When things like this are happening in real life, why would I want to read about it when I have a few precious moments to entertain myself? I read to escape those issues.

That being said, I adore cozy mysteries. I only begin correctly guessing the murderer after reading all the books the author has written so I know their style. I’ve never tried to figure out who killed the victim in an Agatha Christie, a P.D. James or  an episode of “Murder, She Wrote” or even “Scooby Doo.” So even though I love murder mysteries they have a way of making me feel like I’m a simpleton. (Which I am; I’m very gullible. I’m just happen to be smart as well.)

Yes, never having caught on to Scooby Doo format makes me feel like an idiot but I look at books and movies and t.v. as entertainment. I don’t want to have to work at figuring anything out. Tell me what’s happening. I won’t question you. I’m a meek little lamb, following the twists and turns and I’m surprised and shocked with each new development.

Why? Because it’s boring otherwise. I remember the one time I was actively engaged with a movie it happened to be “Cast Away” and Tom Hanks found some of the plane’s cargo. He pulled it in and over the course of the movie found alternate uses for the items. I ruined the surprise for everyone by blurting out what he’d use as each problem arose. Where’s the fun in watching a movie or reading a book when you know what’d going to happen? So I gave up the game of anticipation and became a passive consumer of entertainment.

This means I’m a very picky reader. I’ll admit it- I’ll judge a book by its cover. It’s not all I go by I’m like a magpie for beautiful, interesting, or eye-catching cover art. It will jump into my library basket but t has an equal chance as the uninteresting book of languishing on my bedside table until it’s overdue and has to go back.

I want to explore other genres and I would love to discover new authors because as a writer, I have horrible, horrible exclusionary tastes and that needs to be fixed. I’ll try more serious works; I’m trying not to be picky anymore. I’ll never say “no” to a suggestion or recommendation. WordPressland, I need your help!

What author or novel have you discovered that has become a favourite or classic in your home library? Who should I read?