Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Mystery of Taste

I have always wondered what gives each person their taste in books. For example, one of my favorite books as a kid was No Flying in the House by Betty Brock. Was it an instant classic that is on all Must Read lists for kids? None that I've ever seen. Did I connect with the story because I was also an orphan? No ... not an orphan as far as I know. Did I have a small dog that could do amazing, almost magical tricks? Nope ... just an elusive cat. Did I try to kiss my elbow a hundred times over because if you could do that it meant you were a fairy? Okay, well, I actually did that (and it's not possible) ... but not until after I read this book. There was just something about this book that drew me in, that made me want to believe that this world really existed somewhere. Thus, I still pick the tiny book up every once in a while, sit down for an hour or so and read it again.

T (the husband) and I have been together since we were barely legal adults. We've had many years of growing together and, for the most part, our musical tastes are the same, our movie tastes are pretty similar and yet the books we each love? Hardly a handful of books overlap. I like Victorian novels, mysteries and Egyptology. He likes cyberpunk and non-fiction about the founding fathers and industry. I never finish a book and say "wow ... that book was amazing ... you should read it." Because he wouldn't enjoy it the way I did. It wouldn't be his thing. We both wince at the same songs when they come on the radio. He says "Is such-and-such movie on our Netflix list?" and I say "Of course". But when it comes to books, we don't even shop in the same sections.

If I have one theory, I think it's that we have different hopes and aspirations and books are glimpses into our hidden dreams. We read about worlds we wish existed, about people we wish we knew. Whatever we need our escape to be, there is a book that can take each one of us there. And even though a certain world may not exist, we can find something in this one that makes us feel the same excitement or security or peace.

What do you think?

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