Life influenced Reading

rune

rune
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Strange question this and I'm unsure I'll be able to get this over very well.

Has your life experiences influenced your tastes in the type(s) of novels you like? And how much you read?

I can see you all scratching your heads on this one :D But when I thought about it I realised my life has influenced my tastes.
But I'll comment on that if others post :)
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I don't know if life experiences have influenced my reading tastes (I tend to go in cycles) but writing certainly has.

There's many a book that used to give me innocent pleasure and I can't bear to look at it now because the poor quality of the writing is so distracting. Sometimes I envy my younger self that greater capacity for enjoyment.
 

Winters_Sorrow

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well I've always been a dreamer and not very focussed or concerned on what I regard as the hum-drum boredom of everyday life, so I guess I was drawn to the fantastical from and early age, from nursery rhymes to mythology books and then into mainstream sci-fi & fantasy

I've tried to read more mainstream stuff (Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham, Tom Clancy etc) but for the most part there books have failed to capture my interest.
I enjoy some historical elements so I don't mind Bernard Cornwell & a few others

but for the most part, the more bizarre and thought-provoking a book the happier I am
 

dwndrgn

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Absolutely. I don't read very many 'novels' by that I mean the contemporary or even historical imagined real life stories. These are the books where the cover says something like "The Youth Hostel" in big bold letters as the title, and somewhere down the cover you get in smaller letters "the novel". The reason I don't? I prefer to escape. I live a relatively dull existence; our society is full of nastiness and toxic reasoning. I don't want to relive that through someone elses eyes - I want to get away from it completely. That is my current motivation for reading fantasies and science fiction and alternative histories. When I was a kid, I was the one with no special talents. Nothing to remark upon. Not good at anything, and too observant of the results of being a bad person to try and cheat my way into notoriety. So, with an active imagination fueled by lots of time left alone, when I picked up that first science fiction story I was hooked.

Alternatively, and this may be the real question you are asking, I currently read according to mood. If I'm depressed or sad, a quick, easy fantasy with humor or romance can help me forget that my life can suck, without taxing my brain. When I'm happy and feeling good about my life, I take on more challenging reads - alternative histories, crime fiction, epic fantasies which tend to require a bit more brain processing power. A perfect example would be a while back when financial, health and relationship troubles made me just want to change my name and move to Calcutta, I rediscovered the humanity and humor of Spider Robinson's Callahan series. Not only are they easy to read, they make you laugh and they show you that even when life sucks, you can move on. Directly after, when feeling much better and financial and relationship troubles settled down, I took on Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver. A thought-provoking, intelligent vision of the world of the original natural philosophers.

Now that I've told you much more than you really needed to know, did I answer your question?
 

Estelthea

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I think it would be quite hard for personal experience not to influence the way someone responds to a book. It definatly affects the way I read; as a child/teenager I read all the time but at uni I only ever read for my course and since then I don't have the time to read as much as I used to. I guess reading has lost a bit of its magic but then I've found that writing myself is more appealing.

I've never had an experience that would either attact me to or push me away from a certain kind of book but I suppose it could happen. Some people might not want to read anything that feels too close to a bad personal experience but others might see the story as a way to objectify the experience.

Often the book itself will influence my mood when I read it, a happy story will put me in a good mood whatever I was feeling before. I'll pick up a new book because of a reccomendation or interesting review or just because the cover/blurb/first paragraph grabs me at the time - more to do with the style of the book that an emotional reaction. If there is something I want to read available to me then my mood would not make me leave the book where it was and I don't think my reaction to the story, as long as it is well written, would be any diffrent because of how I felt. I've always read quite widly within the genre and I'd rather read something that gives me an insight into someone else's mind and experiences.
 

rune

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I know my moods affect the kind of fantasy novel I can engage with. And has someone already mentioned that's one influence on my reading. That is one aspect of influence.I suffer quite a bit from pain and find when I'm feeling at my worst, getting lost in a favourite author's book distracts me from the pain. I tend to find that when I feel really ill I read the most :D Before anyone asks I can't take painkillers for the pain, it worsen's my problem. So there you go I've discovered a way of relieving pain without medication :D


The reason I read the genre I do - fantasy and dark fantasy - I feel is influenced from my past.
I was brought up in a violent home, broken family, dealing with a Mam, addicted to painkiller and alcohol.
So things were rough going until my Mam died 11 years ago.

So reading for me, like another mentioned, is a source of escape. And I love the unusual :) Charles De Lint writes about disturbing, abusive relationships, with character's really going through the mill and only adds a touch of fantasy. I think he's a great author, but I dont like to read about his characters lives, they remind me too much of my own youth.

I prefer engaging with characters that are different, can do or are involved in magical worlds and basically having an exciting time :D

So Yes, I can definately say my life as influenced my reading taste :)
 

MoonLover

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I've only ever read within the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I've tried the others but have found little to interest me, except for the occasional autobiography. I've nearly always lived alone and I'm happy with my own company, so reading gives me an outlet where I can 'interact' with the worlds or characters in a 'safe' way. I can put myself in the picture, so to speak. I don't conciously avoid the real world, it's just that the daily humdrum of other people's lives don't interest me all that much. To ask the question in reverse, my reading has definately influenced my life though!
Karen :)
 

Jof2004

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Totally agree with most of what's been posted.

Why would anyone want to read a book about "real life". I've never understood this. It's the same with soap opera's.:mad:
For me there is no better way to relax and recuperate than to immerse yourself in a sci-fi/fantasy world where your day to day concerns disappear.
Letting your imagination run riot is THE best way to de stress.
 

rune

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I wonder how many of us would admit to wanting to escape from the real world!
 

nixie

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I some times I read main stream not often,as I prefer fantasy.Reading to me is escapism.The real world saddens me at times so I don't really want to read about it.My moods do influence the books I read and like Rune if I'm ill I read more to escape the pain.
 

Alexa

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I'll second dwndrgn, not because my life is boring, but too stressful. When I have a good book into my hands, I forget about everything. Quite dangerous when I have something into the oven. :D
 

The Master™

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rune said:
Has your life experiences influenced your tastes in the type(s) of novels you like? And how much you read?

Unfortunately, YES...

Bad childhood, needed to find escapeism...

My first books were things like Tolkein, then Douglas Adams... Then on from there... :D

Always enjoyed books where the writing is free and easy, and draws you into the narrative so that you can see the events unfolding in your minds-eye... If I can't "see" it, I discard and move on... Also like something that gives me a smile... :D
 

rune

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The Master™ said:
Unfortunately, YES...

Bad childhood, needed to find escapeism...

My first books were things like Tolkein, then Douglas Adams... Then on from there... :D

Always enjoyed books where the writing is free and easy, and draws you into the narrative so that you can see the events unfolding in your minds-eye... If I can't "see" it, I discard and move on... Also like something that gives me a smile... :D

I also experieced a difficult childhood and find fantasy is the best escapeism I've ever found :D
 

The Master™

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rune said:
I also experieced a difficult childhood and find fantasy is the best escapeism I've ever found :D

Not difficult - BAD childhood... :(

I like to read fantasy to go to periods without modern contraptions... Simple times... But with magic, and with myths and legends coming to life... :D

And I like to read Sci-Fi to venture to far flung places with space travel and the like... :D
 

Neon

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I don't know any particular reason why I like fantasy novels more than others. It's just always captured my imagination more than other books. But I also agree with the view that it helps one escape reality for a time and just live in another world.
 

littlemissattitude

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Interesting question, and I'm not really sure of my answer.

Several people have referred to preferring escapist literature because they've had bad or unfortunate childhoods. I'm just the opposite, in that I had the most disgustingly normal and fortunate childhood that it is probably possible to have without having a lot of money. On the other hand, I've always had a sort of mental set that something bad will happen - I think I got that from being alive and aware at the time of JFK's assassination (I was seven years old when that happened), which at that time was a really shocking event. It wasn't like now, where someone is getting assassinated somewhere in the world almost every other day.

Consequently, I don't read much mainstream fiction, fiction that purports to portray the real world in a realistic way, because I honestly don't like the real world very much and mostly think of it as a malign place that will get you if you don't watch out. On the other hand, I do read a lot of non-fiction - much more of it than I do fiction of any kind. The real real world is endlessly fascinating to me because it constantly confirms my position that given the least opportunity, the bad thing will happen rather than the good thing, and on as large a scale as possible. That's why events like the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 never really surprise me that much.

Or maybe this is all because I woke up angry at the world for no discernible reason this morning. Can't tell at the moment. All I know is, if I'm going to read fiction, I want it to be real fiction, not lightly glossed-over reality. The one exception to that is that I will read really well-researched historical fiction. I don't know exactly why I make that differentiation.
 

stelfox1

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I had a pretty much pressured job, when I left school so I always thought I was drawn to Fantasy novels as a complete break from reality. So now I have an easy no pressure job I am already hooked to fantasy.
 

Amber

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We moved round a lot when I was younger, and I started to withdraw from the hardships I faced at making friends at each and every new school, and began to read a *lot.* Before I was eight, I read mostly classics of the old school (by that I mean Austen, Brontes, all the classics we're told we should read) Then I got introduced to science fiction through my dad through Asimov's Foundation actually. Totally hooked. When I was eight and a half, I read Lord of the Rings.. it didn't stop from there.
From that moment on fantasy/ science fiction was an escapist's pleasure. Fantasy characters might have difficulties, but they were different from mine, and you had the comfortable knowledge it would probably turn out for the best.
Though now I come to think of it, reading those novels was probably why I became even more alienated in the first place :D
 

GrownUp

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Good Grief. You and I have been leading the exact same childhood life Amber!
Always turning up when everyone has their friends already.
So tiring, being the apologetic new kid, tagging along.

So much better to have sci-fi adventures!!!
 

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