Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Pop in Popular

There was a time in my life when I read tons of non-fiction, history, biographies, how to books, self help books and for fun, some mainstream fiction. I knew that millions of other people were busy reading mysteries and romances, but I just never got around to that. There were so many subjects I wanted to know more about that reading for fun usually got squeezed out, except for perennially irresistible writers like Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut. But they were the exception rather than the usual fare.

Then one day several years ago, I felt like it was time to read some popular fiction just for fun. I was wanting to relax with an intriguing story populated with interesting characters.

The change started when I used to have long commutes to and from work and I wanted something else to listen to besides what was on the radio. You can only tolerate so many traffic updates while you are sitting in it, or hearing the same few bits of news and music repeated over and over. I went to the library and the bookstores and started listening to books on tape and CD while I was driving. I enjoy a well told story, and some of the authors who write popular fiction are good storytellers. You are not going to learn a lot of facts from them or get tips on how to improve your life, but you can get a story with interesting characters who make you want to know what happens next.

I liked listening to their stories so much that I started picking up more of the books in print by those authors. When I found an author I liked, I kept reading them, then looked for others who also had a style that appealed to me.

Now I know why some authors are popular. Of course, you can only read so much, so it is natural to gravitate to storytellers who really click with you.

Interesting to observe how we change over time.

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