So one thing I was asked to write about here a while ago, and something which I think confuses publishers who look at my reviews, is the sheer spread of stuff I read. Crime, fantasy, hard SF, romance, YA of all stripes, comic books, serious graphic novels, literature, non-fiction science, history… I’m currently reading Survivors: The Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind (Richard Fortey) alongside Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell), Tam Lin (Pamela Dean) and The Wizard’s Promise (Cassandra Rose Clarke), for example.
(A related question would be how I keep all these books I’m reading concurrently separate and fresh in my mind. I can only say, uh, practice? Necessity?)
It basically runs in my family. We’re all a bit “grass-hopper minded”, jumping to new interests all the time. We all have some unexpected hobbies and interests — my dad, who now only reads non-fiction, once shocked me profoundly by admitting he’d read all the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters and thought they were “quite good”; my grandmother did her A Levels at the same time as her daughters and has dabbled in just about every craft I can think of; my mother’s a doctor and a passionate lover of both Tolkien and the seemingly endless stream of academic stuff I had to write about topics from Sir Gawain to Tennyson (which is almost the most modern I ever got, apart from some Arthurian literature and Welsh writing, which tend to come from fairly deep roots anyway). My sister was in medical sciences and is now studying law, but I’ve caught her reading about sparkly vampires.
So it might look, Dear Publisher Considering Me For An ARC, like I’m only interested in reading a ton of books about biology, and it makes no sense that I’m requesting your upcoming cheesy space opera. Or that I’m not likely to be interested in fantasy when I’m reading books about astronomy and archaeology and the latest in the field of genetics. Or one week I might be catching up on my stack of comics, and then it’ll be all Captain Marvel all the time — not the reader you’d expect to be interested in your non-fiction book about potential life outside the solar system.
Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a polymath, but I have a BA and MA in English Literature and a BSc in Biology. I have a broad base here! Trust me, if I’ve requested your book, I’m interested.
So, yeah, in summary? I’m just interested in everything. Bring it on. I want to learn, but I also want to be entertained; I read like I breathe (that’s why I’m the Bibliophibian) and I never, ever go anywhere without a book. Preferably two or three.
Now will someone please rec me a good non-fiction book on dinosaurs that isn’t an encyclopedia? Actually, fiction works too. Just, dinosaurs. Please?
[Lightly edited in 2020.]