So, I was blog-hopping a bit this morning, and I didn't hop far before I came upon litchick's post about how we choose what to read. She mentioned Oprah's book club and it made me think again about what role Oprah and her book club played in shaping the reader I am today.
When I first found out about Oprah's book club (it could have been started at this time, too, I don't recall), I was in high school. I've always been a reader, and I'd welcomed the chance to make the jump from kids books to "adult" books. I've since made the jump back to young adult books, but that's a story for another day. As an "adult" reader, I was...a uh...popular fiction hound. I liked what everybody liked. Put me in a room with Stephen King's or John Grisham's latest, and I was a happy camper. To some extent, I still can be. Sometimes it's refreshing to read a book that you can quickly and mindlessly finish in a day.
The thing is, now that I'm older, I wonder if I wouldn't still be reading only those same things if it weren't for Oprah and subsequently my mother's phase of passionately loving all things Oprah. Of course, I couldn't be left out of this bookish trend in my own house, so I cast aside the latest Stephen King/Dean Koontz/John Grisham/Danielle Steel, and I started picking up some of these depressing contemporary fiction pretty trade paperback books and trying them on for size. To this day, I'm a shameless lover of contemporary fiction/literature. At this point in my life, I can safely say that not one of my Oprah reads ranks among my favorites, though I haven't read all that many of her picks. However, I did come to love the feel of a trade paperback in my hand, love the sensation of reading a book that I had to think about because the story had characters that were real multi-dimensional people and the plot had a few layers of meaning instead of just a slow build to a cheap thrill, and love to having my emotions tied up in the outcome of the book. So, at the end of the day, I have to give Oprah some credit. She had a hand in opening my eyes to a type of book that at that point, I had no idea existed. A type of book that I spend most of my time with today, and a type of book which many of my favorites are now. I still read some of that old stuff and I still find it satisfying to devour a horror novel or a thriller in a day (and I'll even go on the record to say that I think that Stephen King is a great writer - not just a great "genre" writer, but great writer in general - again this is a story for another day), but I have to say that Oprah helped at least a little bit in shaping my tastes and making me into the reader I am today.
How about you? Do you ever think about what has influenced your reading through the years? What makes you read what you read?