Friday, April 3, 2015

The Book Lover's Den #18: What influences the choice of books to read?

Welcome to my Friday feature!

In each weekly post, I explore 
my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.

For the longest time now, I've been wondering just what, if anything, influences people's choices of books to read and blog about. There are book bloggers who blog only about a specific genre or type of book. For instance, I've seen a lot of blogs totally dedicated to Young Adult books. Others only cover Christian books, while still others stick with classics, or science fiction and fantasy (these two usually go together), or mostly nonfiction. Then there are others, like me, who tend to be more eclectic, but I've noticed that eclectic bloggers are not as common as those who prefer one particular genre or type of book.

In my case, I've noticed that it's one of two factors that influence what I will most likely read next: either my emotional state, or my preoccupation with certain intellectual or spiritual matters. 

The first became very apparent when I fell head over heels in love for the very first time. Not that I hadn't been in love before that, but that particular time, it was particularly strong. How did this affect my choice of books to read? Well, I completely lost interest in the types of books I had read until then -- science fiction, fantasy, classics, and nonfiction. (Hmmm, I guess I've always been a little eclectic.) Instead, I started reading romance novels. Once my appetite was whetted, I began obsessively buying and reading them! I was living in a rosy, romantic haze..... The funny thing is, I had previously looked down my nose at these books. I hate to admit that I even thought that women who read this genre were silly and shallow. How ironic, then, to find myself abandoning my loftier subject matters for this fluffy stuff! The irony hit me even then, but I still couldn't stop myself from reading the genre. I read mostly historical romances back then. I still read a lot of romance novels nowadays, but my preferred sub-genre now is paranormal romance. 

I'm now making a concerted effort to read weightier material. I don't want to stop reading romance novels, though. I came to realize that these books fulfill a need for women, a need that no other type of literature can possibly satisfy, and that it's something uniquely ours. I consider myself an intellectual person, and I still have this need, in common with all other women. it's the need to read beautiful, romantic language, to feel the sexual tension in a new relationship, to immerse myself in the plot twists that seem to separate the lovers, but that will bring them together for that all-important 'happily ever after'. These are feminine emotional needs. However, I do want all of these plot elements to be balanced by others. The female protagonist must be a strong character on her own, not 'a female in distress'. She must be willing to assert herself with the male protagonist. Furthermore, it's great when SHE rescues HIM at times!

On other occasions, I feel the need to read other things like science fiction and fantasy, or nonfiction. These are the times that I've come across something interesting on the Internet, which stimulates my mind, and therefore, I need to delve into it further. For instance, I'm currently preoccupied with certain intellectual/spiritual concerns, such as what to accept or reject from New Age philosophy, researching contradictions I have found in the Bible, and exploring the influence of culture, temperament, genetics, and upbringing on a person's individual moral code.

I'm currently reading The Psychology of Twilight, which some people might scoff at, as this is seemingly not serious reading material. This is not true at all, however. I've found that this book deals with such fascinating things as attachment theory manifesting in the way the main characters in the Twilight books relate to each other. There's also a fascinating discussion of prejudice in this book, and another section, titled "Gestalt and Twilight" goes into depth on this school of psychology, which "...tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world." (Gestalt Psychology:Wikipedia)

Interestingly, while reading this book, I've been delving briefly into other books dealing with the concerns I've mentioned above. I'm feeling torn between continuing to read The Psychology of Twilight, and these other books. There's just SO little time to read..... 

One of the books I've delved into is titled Myths of the Bible, by Gary Greenberg. Another is titled Awakening Your Inner Light, by Aeoliah. And then there's A Kabbalah for the Modern World, by Migene Gonzalez-Wippler, which is the book that started me wondering about Biblical myths and contradictions. In this book, Gonzalez-Wippler claims that the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament) contains the stories of Adam, Eve, and the serpent, whereas the original Hebrew version does not. So now I'm researching this topic. In relation to this, I have yet another book somewhere in this condo, titled Biblical Nonsense, by Dr. Jason Long. And then I also want to read The Battlefield of the Mind, by Joyce Meyer, as well as Shattering Your Strongholds, by Liberty Savard. These last two are Christian authors, and they have both inserted a bit of psychology into these books.

Sometimes, I might be in the middle of some exciting novel, only to get pulled away from it because an emotional state demanding some other type of reading interrupts. If I've been having problems at work, for example, I will suddenly want to pick up a book on how to deal with bullying by either bosses or co-workers. If I have an argument with my husband, I will suddenly want to read a book on how to improve communication in marriage. If I'm feeling down, I will suddenly want to pick up a book on  dealing with the blues. And, if I'm feeling inadequate, I will suddenly want to pick up a book on bolstering one's self-esteem, or one dealing with positive affirmations.

In short, I look to books for answers to emotional issues, as well as for answers to intellectual and spiritual concerns. Of course, there are times I simply want to be entertained, to escape. Then I will turn to some type of romance. If I want to escape this planet, I will then turn  to science fiction, and if it's reality altogether, I will seek out fantasy, although paranormal romance and urban fantasy also serve the purpose quite well.

So it seems that, in my case, as well as most likely in the case of many other readers, it's really moods that drive my selection  of reading matter. I would imagine, however, that this is especially true of eclectic readers and book bloggers. We're kind of 'a breed apart', sampling here and there, like hummingbirds flitting from one flower to another. It's not always easy to balance different genres, as well as the constant battle between fiction and nonfiction.

While writing this post, I remembered a book I bought some years ago, and haven't gotten around to reading. It's titled Reading To Heal: How To Use Bibliotherapy To Improve Your Life. The author's name is Jacqueline D. Stanley. This book actually recommends certain books to read, based on emotional issues one needs to heal. Some of these books are fiction, while others are nonfiction. I'm not sure where I put this book (perhaps it's in storage), but I want to get it and discover the books recommended by the author. Unfortunately, Amazon does not offer a preview of the book.

Another such book I want to read is titled Bibliotherapy: The Girl's Guide to Books for Every Phase of Our Lives, by Beverly West and Nancy Peske. A preview of this particular book is available on Amazon, so I was able to take a look at the Table of Contents. Some of the chapter titles are actually hilarious! Here are some samples: Chapter 3: When You Still Think You Can Change Him - Bad Boy Books, Chapter 4: When You're Ready To Make Your Own Kind of Music -- Hearing-Your-Inner-Voice Books, Chapter 5: When You're Wallowing In A Sullen Perennial Adolescence -- Coming-of-Age Books, Chapter 9: When Your Biological Alarm Clock Is Ringing and You Can't Find the Snooze Button -- Midlife Crisis Books, and so on. 

I'm feeling a very strong need to order these books from Amazon right this very minute! I have to reign in this impulse, though.....I might be able to find the first book, Reading to Heal, somewhere on my shelves, which I haven't quite managed to get organized yet (it's been a month since we moved in already......WOW!) As for the second one, I'll have to grit my teeth and get it as a Kindle edition, since I can't fill our new apartment with books....That's the reason I had to put so many in storage when we moved.

Wrapping up.....I'm feeling the need to read something right now, as of this writing (it's already 12:06 AM on Friday, April 3rd, here in Miami, Florida). And what book will I be picking up? Since it's already Good Friday, I might very well select a reading from a Lent devotional, or maybe I'll read some chapters from The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas, a great classic I've been meaning to re-read.

And then, sometime late tomorrow, I just might be able to return to The Psychology of Twilight!

NOTE: All of the books mentioned in this post are available on Amazon, and are listed by Goodreads and Shelfari.


What are your thoughts on
 this subject?
What factors influence 
your own choice of books 
to read at any given moment?


  1. This is a great discussion post - I love reading emotional books the most, the ones that are really moving at the same time. I have read many great ones in the past, but I'm having trouble finding new gems recently :/ I like fantasy as well, but I'm just used to more realistic novels you know? Missed you around Maria! <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

    1. Hi, Benish!

      I think that all readers experience these influences, some to a greater degree than others. I find that my mood sometimes shifts while I'm in the middle of one book, and I grab another to fit that particular mood. That happened while I was reading "A Thousand Pieces of You", and so I started reading "The Spontaneous Healing Of Belief", which is a nonfiction book. I have to post the review of that one soon, but now I will have to re-read parts of it, since it's been a while. As you know, I was very busy moving from an apartment in one part of Miami, to a condo in another part of Miami. So this cut into my reading time!

      When it comes to fiction, I do prefer to read fantasy. I also love science fiction (although I haven't read much of that recently) and paranormal romance. I might read something realistic occasionally, but I really do prefer books that take me out of this mundane, boring reality!

      Thank you so much for the great comment!! : )

  2. Another fascinating post full of intriguing ideas Maria!

    I actually have a post in the wings concerning how I choose what books to read. My choices have also changed over the years. When I was younger I read mostly science fiction and a little but of fantasy. These days, while I still love those genres I you know, my tastes have expanded.

    Your observations about women and the genre of Romance novels is fascinating. Though I have heard that some men like books in this category, disproportionate number of fans and readers based upon gender in indeed enormous. You point out some really good reasons for this. Delving deeper this also gets into the whole nature verses nurture debate as well as some “Radical Feminist” theories. If you are up for it I would like to have a conversation with you on this separately.

    The origins of the writings in the Old Testament are also a fascinating subject. I have read a little bit about it but I want to read more. We were discussing this a little bit on my blog. I have read all the books in the Bible and they too, as well as the way people interpret them, are indeed very fascinating.

    As for books aimed at mental and spiritual healing, there is definitely something to this. Those books that you mentioned look very good.

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Hi, Brian!

      Thank you so much for the compliment!

      You know, I might do another post on this topic, because I think there are more thoughts to be explored. For instance, I sometimes find myself wondering if something I'm reading in a nonfiction book is true, so I might very well pick up a second book that contradicts the opinion of the first book I selected. Then I might go off on a This can get complicated!

      Like you, I used to read SF and fantasy most of the time. I also read classics and some art books -- mostly books on drawing and painting techniques. That was when I was single. Then, when I met my first husband, I suddenly wanted to read romance novels all the time!! These books filled an emotional need I had not felt before. I still read them nowadays, though, because of the reasons I stated in this post. it's interesting that, as you mentioned in your comment above, some men read romance novels. I would imagine they're a minority, though. Nicolas Sparks is a very well-known romance writer, but I steer clear of his books. That's because they all have sad endings! All romance novels written by women have 'happily-ever-after' endings. Emotionally, this has GREAT importance for us women! (That's why I refuse to watch sad romantic movies, too....)

      Since I have been reading romance novels for a long time now, I've seen some change in this genre, as well as in its sub-genres. One change I dislike is that the sex scenes have become increasingly graphic, even for books not in the erotica genre. I do think it's too much! Another, and VERY welcome change, is that the female protagonists are no longer 'damsels in distress', and act very assertively toward the male protagonists.

      I do want to continue researching the stories in the Old Testament. Ever since I began reading this part of the Bible (and I have done so sporadically; I should do it on a more regular basis), I have become very dismayed at the many acts of cruelty attributed to God. In fact, I have a fascinating book I want to read thoroughly (I started it, but never finished it.) The book is titled "Disturbing Divine Behavior", by Eric A. Seibert. I began to read it back in 2009, and I guess it just became too uncomfortable for me to read...... However, I do want to go back and re-read it, finishing it this time. The author is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Messiah College. I found it very interesting that a Christian would actually be brave enough to pen such a book. I suppose he must have met with a lot of criticism from his colleagues when he first published it. And in fact, if you look it up on Amazon, you'll see that it has garnered very mixed reviews. I thought it was EXCELLENT, if rather uncomfortable to read, as I have already stated.

      As for books dealing with mental, emotional, and spiritual healing, I want to investigate them more thoroughly, as well. The book pictured above is, I think, a good place to start. I delved into it several years ago, and really liked the topics. (Gee, it seems as if I'm always 'delving' into

      Thanks for the SUPER terrific comment!! Hope you have a nice weekend, as well!! :)

    2. P.S. I'm really looking forward to your own thoughts on this topic, when you publish your blog post!! : )


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