5 Warning Signs That You Don’t Know Your Own Taste In Books #amreading

Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Debatable Topics | 2 comments

Do you have a case of reader fatigue?

Have you been struggling to finish the books you’ve been reading?

Do you find every book you read lacking, regardless of the glowing reviews of hundreds of other genre fans?

Does this seem to be happening, book after book after book?

Is this bog post starting to sound like a bad television commercial for a non FDA-approved drug?

Well, then do I have the answer for you!

No matter how much you love a genre, you aren’t going to love every book you come across on your preferred genre shelf. Even if 1,000’s of other readers think it was the best book ever, you might read it and think, “Those 1000’s of people must be lying! This is horrible!” (Okay, maybe you aren’t that self-centered that you would assume other people are lying just because you don’t agree, but you get my point!) Truth is, even if you do know your own taste in books, you aren’t going to love every book in your preferred reading genre. But what happens when you consistently find yourself unable to rate a book above 3 stars? What happens when you just can’t find something you LOVE?

It’s possible you don’t know your own tastes in books.

Preposterous you say! (Or perhaps you’ve chosen a less corny adjective that means the same thing.) You’ve been reading the same genre for years and you used to love tons of books in that genre. Why would that change now? There are many reasons: Maybe you’re older now, and you’ve grown into new interests. Maybe the genre has taken some turns that don’t excite you. Maybe it had never been the right genre for you, but you’d loved a few books in the genre and have been chasing that experience ever since, not knowing you might be able to find what you are really looking for more often in another genre. It could be any number of things.

I speak from experience. Doesn’t mean you are like me, but I hope if you are having trouble finding books you enjoy lately that this post will help you! I feel like this is the post I wish I had read several years ago, when I just kept trying to read the same kind of books over and over again because of a few I liked in the genre, only to later find out there were other genres I find MUCH more addicting.

But is it possible this is happening to you? Maybe you’ve just had a bad streak and your interest will pick up again soon. Or maybe you’re like me: latched onto a genre too soon, tastes have changed, etc. So, let’s get onto the warning signs that you’ve fallen into the same trap as many before you have.

Here are 5 warning signs that you’re a victim of your own buying habits!

1) You don’t like things in the book that are markers of the genre.

If you find your urban fantasy reviews complaining of the cliched urban setting, it might be time to rethink your reading options. Urban fantasy is fantasy in an urban setting. If you want something “new”, try paranormal fantasy or epic fantasy or historical fantasy. It could be you’ve picked a sub-genre because you liked a few books, but you’re starting to see what defines a genre as “unoriginal”. If your main complaints about the books you are reading end up to be markers of the genre, maybe it’s time to reevaluate why you loved the books you have loved and if those qualities might be found in another genre.

2) You are choosing what books you buy because you want to “see what the hype is all about.”

I find this rarely ends well. I’m not saying it never ends well, but why not pick something to read because everything about the book makes you think “That sounds awesome! I HAVE to read that!” If you’re thinking, “Eh, I can’t imagine it could be that good, but since everyone is saying it is, I guess I’ll try it,” then you are going into it for the wrong reasons. This will often result in you thinking “Why did people think that was good?” which isn’t so far off from your original thought of “I can’t imagine how it could be that good.” It never struck a chord with you to begin with. Read because you want, not because “everyone else is doing it.”

3) You don’t like anything recent in the genre.

Genre styles change over time. Do you think vampire novels today are exactly like vampire novels written 20 or 100 years ago? Likely not. So if you loved Dracula but you hated Dead after Dark (Charlaine Harris), Guilty Pleasures (Laurell K. Hamilton), and Moon Called (Patricia Briggs), maybe you are just reading the wrong kind of vampire books. This doesn’t mean that you can’t read vampire novels written in the modern day; it just means you might want to see if you can find vampire books that are more like Dracula and less like the Sookie Stackhouse series.

4) You are suffering through books or continuing series even when you didn’t like the first few books.

Sometimes people do this because they “feel the need to finish things” but if you are feeling this way a lot, maybe you need to reevaluate how you select novels. I say this because there are MILLIONS of books available. That’s WAY too big of a selection for you to spend your valuable time suffering through something you don’t like. There should always be tons of books in your reading pile that you are DYING to read, to the point you have no qualms about tossing a book aside (or donating it to your local library or reselling it on ebay!) in order to pick up a different book. If you don’t like the first book in a series, or the second book, or the third book, WHY would you buy the fourth book? I’ve done this to myself in the past. I thought it was because I just had to find out what happens, but eventually I realized that I was just wasting my time. Who has time to keep reading something they don’t like when there are more books they want to read than they will ever have time to read? I think every reader should have the chance to feel this way.

5) You frequently find yourself getting angry/annoyed.

It’s great when books can make us FEEL something. And everyone will experience books from time to time that make them angry, annoyed, or frustrated. But overall, reading should feel great. It should be an escape. When we are going about our day, we should be hoping for those stolen moments where we can escape in our current read once more, or at the very least, we should enjoy the books we read to pass the time during what would normally be a boring wait at the doctors office or a boring flight across the country or the boring hour before bed when none of your favorite television shows are airing. If with most books you read you feel angry to the point you want to curse, call people names, make fun of other people who liked the book, and discount the opinions of others, then maybe it’s time to look at your book choices. How did this book end up in your pile? Did you love the premise? Did you love the reading sample? Why have the last dozen or so books ALL made you angry? (Grrr!) Do they have something in common? Is it something you can avoid when purchasing future books?

Or hey, you know, maybe you just enjoy hating what you read! I am not being snarky, by the way. I’m being real. Some people don’t get enjoyment out of reading as much as they do out of being a critic. If that’s the case, you didn’t need this post. You already know your taste in books and just intentionally shop outside of that. I’m not going to judge what other people enjoy; we all have our own hobbies and guilty pleasures. However, there are a lot of people out there who want to love reading, but don’t. People who stop reading after awhile because they can’t find anything in their genre that they like. If that’s the case with you, don’t be afraid to pick up a new genre and give it a go. Think about what you DO like in the books you read, and see where else you can find that (hopefully without the things you DON’T like!).

Happy Reading!

* * *

Rebecca Hamilton is a USA Today bestselling Paranormal Fantasy author. Her bestselling Forever Girl Series is available at online retailers and has been optioned for film with Witten Pictures. The Hungarian edition has been published with IPC books and the German edition has been published with Darkiss, a Harlequin imprint.


  1. Great post. I think everyone might fall victim to this at one point or another. Genres are constantly shifting with the trends and people’s tastes change, as well. There’s some great insight in your questions above. It wouldn’t hurt to reevaluate every so often in case the genre just don’t fit anymore. @theedgeofwords

    • In musc it is often true that if you go backwards through the artist’s catalog you wil like the music more because you get down to more raw and fundamental aspects of what you like about them. I find the complete opposite tends to be true with authors. If I find someone I like, as I go backwards through their catalog their message or style becomes generalized and less honed.
      This makes sense (of course) because you get better at anything the longer you do it. Yet, I find myself falling into that trap all the rhthym all the time.

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