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Literary musings: Changing tastes

Originally published on 25 February, 2004.
I was thinking about my first 52 books reading reading challenge, which I had recently started.

It's funny how my taste in reading has developed in cycles.

The first books I really got hooked on were Enid Blyton's Adventure, Famous Five and Adventurous Four series, which means that my first love in literature was detective novels. Then I discovered Jón Árnason's collection of folk tales. Jón Árnason is to Iceland what the Grimm brothers are to Germany, and his collection of folk tales is great reading. My favourite section was the fairy tales, and I could spend hours reading them. This developed into an interest in legends and mythology, especially Nordic and Greek, and in all branches of religion.

Then came a period when I read just about everything I could get my hands on, including all kinds of stuff that isn't meant for kids. One memorable book I read during this period was Robert Bloch's Psycho, which gave me nightmares, and then there were the hardcore porn books I found somewhere and which gave me rather strange ideas about sex. I think I was 11 or 12 at the time.

Then I became interested in thrillers of all kinds: Alistair MacLean, Sven Hassel, Desmond Bagley and Ian Fleming were among my favourite authors, and I'm sure I didn't understand half of what was going on in some of these novels.

This was followed by a period when I became fascinated with love stories, but this quickly blew over and I got interested in Agatha Christie. (First full cycle completed). I read every one of her books I could get my hands on, both in Icelandic and English. After that I graduated towards more serious detective stuff (meaning explicit) and Thomas Harris and Patricia Cornwell became my favourite authors.

Then I discovered fantasy, which may well be called a rekindling of my interest in fairy tales. My favourites were the Pern series by Anne MacCaffrey and Piers Anthony's Xanth books. Just when I was beginning to get tired of both, I discovered Terry Pratchett, who has been my favourite author since. I read his Discworld books with the same fervour and interest as I did fairy tales 25 years ago.

With this reading challenge I have re-entered the omnivore part of the cycle, and am reading anything I can get my hands on. I have, however, just made an inventory of the 40-50 books I have on my "to be read" list, and there are more detective novels than any other genre on the list. I wonder if this is the beginning of a new cycle?

It was. The cycle is still going strong.


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