God* comes to you and tells you that, from this day forward, you may only read ONE type of book–one genre–period, but you get to choose what it is. Classics, Science-Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Cookbooks, History, Business … you can choose, but you only get ONE.
What genre do you pick, and why?
While at first glance this appears to be a nearly impossible question to answer, I have discovered that my choice is fairly cut-and-dry. I would choose Classics. Why? There are a variety of reasons:
- Classics are classics for a reason: they have endured the test of time because the characters are interesting, the themes are relevant, and the writing style is admirable.
- I may have to think a bit more when reading a classic (either due to uncommon vocabulary, hidden symbolism, or complicated writing style), but if I could only read one genre, I would want to be mentally stimulated.
- While classics may be a genre, contained within this large variety of books are numerous other "sub genres": mystery (Wilkie Collins is a favorite); historical fiction (I absolutely LOVE A Tale of Two Cities); romance (Elizabeth and Darcy? It doesn't get much better than that); Gothic (the Bronte sisters provide adequate material for months of enjoyable reading); and....well, you get the idea.
- Classics also provide the reader an opportunity to re-read in order to glean more from the text. At this point I have read A Tale of Two Cities and Pride and Prejudice a minimum of six times (I have taught Brit Lit for 5 years and re-read the novels each year). It never fails that I notice some new aspect of the novel with each subsequent read: whether it is another example of subtle foreshadowing, a small character detail, or an eloquent bit of prose, I find that I discover one more reason to appreciate the book and the author's talent.
Now having said that.....I am not sure that I would ever want to read just one genre. I enjoy variety and have truly appreciated some contemporary fiction which draws me into the story with believable characters and relevant themes. There is absolutely nothing like escaping the worries of the real world with a good, cozy mystery. I am learning that fantasy fiction is another great escape genre - especially YA books which I have ignored since I was a YA myself. Historical fiction is the next "new" genre on my list that I want to start adding to my personal reading repertoire.
So while I could select just one genre if held at gunpoint, I would prefer to have many options available to me in order to help me open my mind to the vast array of reading material available to us today.
What about you? Could you select just one genre to read for all time? What would YOU choose?