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I think I’ve overdosed on mysteries.
I used to prowl the aisles at the bookstore and library, snatching up any new mystery (I’d already run through the backlist of my favorite authors), then I’d devour them as quickly as I could. Market research. That’s what I told myself I was doing. I needed to see what mysteries were out there, what was selling. At least, that’s the excuse I used as I gleefully carried my stacks of books to the checkout.
If there was a new author, a new series, even a new publisher—I knew about it. I was on top of my genre.
But lately, I’m not burning through my new mysteries. I still buy them and check them out, but now I have a rather tilting stack of books languishing beside my chaise lounge.
I pick one of them up every so often, but I can’t get past a few pages. I feel like John Cusack’s character in Grosse Pointe Blank when he says he can’t be a hit man any longer: “I’ve completely lost my taste for it.”
Me, too. I haven’t lost my taste for killing people off (fictionally speaking, of course!), but I have lost my taste for reading mysteries. I am still reading—I couldn’t go without reading, but I’m browsing through other genres and enjoying those books.
So, folks, I want to know if anyone else has been afflicted with this malady, this mystery malaise. What caused it? Is it because I’m writing mysteries? Am I too close to my favorite genre? Has “looking behind the curtain” ruined reading mysteries for me? Or, is it just a stage? And—most important—is there a cure?
Sara, I know just what you mean. I used to read a ton of sci-fi/fantasy, but in the past ten years, I’ve rad maybe a dozen, if that many. I didn’t used to read many mysteries, but my taste changed (thank goodness, or I never would have found you nice people!). I don’t know exactly why it happened - maybe the storylines got too similiar, book after book it was as if there was nothing new or even fun anymore - or if it was me and my outlook on life, or most likely a combination of both, but at least I haven’t lost my zest for reading, which is the most important thing (and non-fiction has stayed as interesting all along, luckily for me). Oh, yeah, and not having much worthwhile to watch on TV has certainly helped, I’m sure!
by Kate Hathway on January 16th, 2008 at 9:55 am
Good to know that I’m not the only one who’s gone through this, Kate! Although, after reading Diana’s post on Monday, I’m thinking that a new Vicki Bliss might be just what the doctor ordered.
by Sara on January 16th, 2008 at 10:07 am
Since I’ve begun writing, I’m much more critical of books I read. I’m a Thriller writer/reader. I’ve read a number of suspense/thrillers and haven’t found an author I’m really nuts about and I’ve tried quite a few. I now have that same tilting stack of unread books at home you do (different titles, I’m sure).
Right now I’ve got Jan Burke’s “Bones” and John Lutz’s “In For the Kill” in the que.
I’m preparing for a trip to China, so I’ll bring at least one of those for the long, long, long flights ahead.
by Will Bereswill on January 16th, 2008 at 11:27 am
I know exactly how you feel! Before becoming a full-time historical fiction writer, I read every historical fiction that came out — good, bad, or mediocre. But once I became published, and had to edit my own work, I think the “behind the curtain” effect kicked in, and now my unread stack of historicals has reached at least 100. Like you, I’d pick them up, read a few pages, then decide on something else, usually nonfiction. I hope the writing process hasn’t ruined it for me! Or maybe it’s just a phase.
by Michelle Moran on January 16th, 2008 at 1:15 pm
Hmmm…so, apparently, this is not an uncommon affliction.
Will, hope your trip to China goes great and that the reading material keeps you entertained.
I’ll have to dip into nonfiction, Michelle. I’ve always tended toward the fiction stacks, but maybe something from the other side is what I need. Also, it would have to be great for research, if I can match up non-fiction reading with what I need to research for my books!
by Sara on January 16th, 2008 at 2:08 pm
I bet in retrospect you’ll realize you’re looking for something that you’re overlooking in a mystery because it’s just too familiar. If you keep reading in the same genre, I bet you keep looking for the same things as you read, even if that’s unconscious. Maybe a page-turner in non-fiction is what you need…..
I once had a case of genre doldrums & came across a glowing review of a book about fish. Fish???? The book was “Cod: the fish that changed the world” by Murlansky and it was just exactly what I needed to read at the time. Maybe you just need something quirky and unpredictable that will shake up the usual mental checklist/questions you bring to a book.
by Cynthia on January 16th, 2008 at 3:03 pm
I’ve been in a re-reading fave mysteries mode - I highly recommend it. For me, it reminds me why I love mystery.
Or take up reading instruction manuals. Anything is a fave read after that!
by Regina Harvey on January 16th, 2008 at 3:38 pm
“Maybe you just need something quirky and unpredictable that will shake up the usual mental checklist/questions you bring to a book.”
Probably true, Cynthia, but somehow, I don’t think it will a book about cod. Maybe, catfish…
by Sara on January 16th, 2008 at 3:43 pm
Ah, the old instruction manual ploy, Regina. Makes everything sound exciting. Everything else also makes so much more SENSE!
I was thinking of re-reading some Mary Stewart the other day. I’ll add that to my list, too. I think I’ll bump it up above catfish.
by Sara on January 16th, 2008 at 3:46 pm
Cod are so boring.
Barracuda… Now that’s a fish.
Even Tuna. Charlie had panache.
by Will Bereswill on January 16th, 2008 at 3:56 pm
And how about box jellyfish–not a fish, but still interesting and really scary. Might make a good murder weapon, too…
by Sara on January 16th, 2008 at 4:49 pm
Ah, Sara. Michael Crichton beat you to it in State of Fear.
by Will Bereswill on January 16th, 2008 at 6:13 pm
Nothing new under the sun, I guess. Of course, I’m sure I can come up with a new twist.
by Sara on January 16th, 2008 at 6:42 pm
I know I’m late, but I have to agree, there are plenty of times I have to read something other than crime.
Right now I’m reading Last Night at the Lobster, but I usually go to nonfiction or one of Patrick O’Brian’s novels when I need a change-up.
by David Terrenoire on January 17th, 2008 at 8:45 am
We seem to have an aquatic theme going, David, and your title blended right in!
by Sara on January 17th, 2008 at 9:17 am
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