There are few experiences in life that match curling up with a good book and losing yourself in the lives of the characters, the exotic settings, and the twists and turns of a compelling plot. Reading continues to be one of the great joys in my life, and I so appreciate the effort that authors put into crafting their work.
As I've gotten older, though, I've found that I am more apt to read fiction, and to stick to a set of authors that I know and love, or to a single genre of books. Personally, my great escape isn't in literature, but in what I term "junk food for the mind" - reasonably well-written murder mystery novels. I enjoy taking the journey with the author down one dead end lead after another, reading with bated breath as the protagonist extracts himself or herself from harm's way, and finally understanding how all of the puzzle pieces fall together and point the finger at the book's true culprit.
Although I absolutely adore this genre, I also know that I'm limiting myself in my reading choices. That's why my New Year's Resolution this year was to expand my universe and read books that I wouldn't have even glanced at twelve months ago. Because I've never been fond of browsing the aisles of a bookstore, I've turned to online bookstores to find new areas of reading to explore. I'm particularly drawn to online bookstores that are the equivalent of independent brick and mortar bookstores - those that have a depth of selection within many different genres, but that don't purport to stock every book ever published. I've found that the mega online bookstores are difficult to browse; keyword searches bring up unrelated titles and I have to dig through all of the wannabes in order to find the gems I'm looking for.
So far, my quest to expand my reading horizon has led me to read non-fiction books like biographies (one on Rosa Parks was a favorite) and autobiographies (Madame Secretary, by Madeline Albright is a winner), as well as African American titles like Black Trials, which traces a path of civic identity through the prism of the legal system. I've even read a graphic novel. It wasn't to my taste, but I can at least say I've given the genre a try. I've also found a new delight in children's books. Some of the classics are as good as I remembered, and there are new authors proving that children's books can, indeed, be considered literature.
I'm enjoying fulfilling my New Year's resolution, and look forward to browsing my favorite online bookstore for more ways to expand my literary horizons.