Exploring Different Genres

October 26, 2017

Gloria Joynt-Lang

As a daughter whose father served in the Military, I spent my childhood in different locales. Every few years my family moved, leaving me to embark on a new adventure, enroll in a new school, and the inevitable struggle to fit in with a new group of kids. An awkward child, with more than my fair share of quirks, I struggled with making friends. After all, who’d want to hang with the girl with an unshakable fear of clowns, balloons, and popcorn? Yes, popcorn. The startling popping of the kernels exploding violently made me as nervous as a poodle. I no longer shriek in horror at the sight of a popcorn maker, but admittedly, the shivers from seeing red balloons tied to a sewer grate, are still running down my spine. Thanks Mr. King.

Although popularity was never my forte, I did have plenty of books. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books. Of course, the first several years of my existence consisted of chewing books, oblivious to their real purpose. I loved the taste of The Poky Little Puppy long before I understood the tale. But eventually I began to read, giving me the ability to dream with my eyes open. An universal remedy allowing me to momentarily escape the bully in grade three; allowing the cruelty of mean girls to sting a little less; and giving me permission to remain peculiar in a cookie cutter world. Books were my lifelong companion, making me laugh, cry, and understand the crazy world which surrounded me.

As I grew older, I tossed aside the picture books and Archie comics for more in-depth stories. With fondness, I remember Paul Zindel’s emotional novel The Pigman, the first novel that caused my eyes to leak. Although saddened by the ending, I was also heartbroken that there were no more pages to turn. Paul Zindel provided me with a thirst for something beyond just humor. No longer content to read as an observer, I wanted to immerse myself into the character’s world, even if their world was broken.

My curiosity for the darker side of humanity grew, and surprisingly the girl with the clown and balloon phobia, became interested in true crime stories. Midnight Express, the fascinating yet horrifying account of Billy Hayes, an American incarcerated in a Turkish Prison for smuggling drugs, was the first true crime book I read. A twelve year old child reading such graphic depictions of prison life might horrify some parents, but I’m forever grateful to my parents for never taking any book away, other than those I tried to eat as a toddler.

Eventually my morbid curiosity led to a degree in Criminology and a career within the Criminal Justice System. But a few years later, my reading interests shifted. Hearing the first-hand accounts of criminal behavior was my job, and I didn’t want it seeping into other aspects of my life. Sure some of the stories were entertaining and humorous, but more often they were dark, disturbing, and downright horrifying.

I still read non-fictional accounts of people with a sordid past, but I’m more selective; preferring those with a theme of redemption. Although my reading preferences have varied throughout the years, my choices now lean towards romance novels.

Admittedly, I spent a good portion of my life not picking up a romance novel. It wasn’t that I was biased against them, but with so many genres out there, I just never got around to reading one. But after a winter weekend of being snowed in, I sat down to a TV marathon of romantic comedies. Instantly I became hooked and searched for authors in this genre. Since that stormy weekend, I’ve enjoyed countless contemporary and historical romance novels. Characters afraid to love, while at the same time hoping to be loved – stories most of us can relate to. I still read a variety of genres – after all, a well written book is always a joy. One of my favorite reads from last year was a fantasy novel with an unbelievable blend of violence and humor so compelling, I read for hours on end. A novel so far removed from what I normally like, and one I might not have even considered years ago.

Most readers have a preference, I certainly do too, but I’m glad life experiences led me to explore different genres.

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