Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Salon: Why Read Crime Fiction? & Other Random Thoughts

  • I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) on my drive home from a workshop this past week and author Walter Mosley was on, along with someone whose name I cannot remember from Law & Order. They were talking about what draws people to crime fiction. My very first thought was, “Oh good! I have a long drive ahead of me!” One of those rare times in recent history anyone’s prayed for lots of traffic so the drive will last longer.

  • It's obvious people are drawn to crime fiction for very different reasons. A small few of the reasons I heard given on the radio show:
  • - To live the life of the bad guy vicariously through the TV or book
    - To see good win out over evil
    - To better understand the criminal mind
    - To enhance problem solving skills
    - For the love of the characters, including that flawed good guy who might not be so different than the rest us
    - For the thrill
    - An escape from real life
    - Predictability
    - Unpredictability
    - Relevant social issues
  • The list could go on forever.

  • Most of the callers to the show were fans of Law & Order. I wish more people had called in specifically for author Walter Mosley. That's why I probably remember his name and not the other guest's. (I have nothing against Law & Order--I'm actually a big fan of the original Law & Order and Law and Order: SVU.)

  • Anya's taken to chewing on the corner of my books more often. She likes hardbacks in particular.

  • Anjin is reading Casino Moon by Peter Blauner.

  • Please check out my friend's new blog, The Book Nurse. It's brand new, and so Denise has not had a chance to post any of her reviews just yet (they'll be worth checking out, I assure you!). Take her up on her offer to prescribe you a book. ~ You can also find her at Celtic Librarian, where she and her high school students blog about the books they read.

  • Riley thinks a book is a holder for his toy bone.

  • One of my coworkers was being especially nosy the other day, going around to everyone's desk and looking closely at what each of us had sitting on the surface. I asked her if she was looking for something in particular. Her reply: "Yes, I'm looking for something to read." Evidently she often borrows books off of people's desks and returns them before anyone notices they are missing. Don't worry, she's always gentle with the books. Still, I'm glad I always take my book with me.

  • Parker takes every opportunity to make a stray book his latest napping spot.

  • * * *

    When I put my request out there for guest bloggers, I figured one person would volunteer if I was really lucky. I was quite surprised then when many more of you than that offered to lend a hand during my time away from the computer. I hope you will join me in welcoming all of my upcoming guests:

    Buddy - Peeking Between the Pages
    Carrie - Books and Movies & Mommy Brain
    Florinda - The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness
    Gautami - Everthing Distils Into Reading
    Melody - Melody's Reading Corner
    Nicole - Eagle Dawg Blog
    Sandy Nawrot - You've GOTTA read this!
    Sheri - A Novel Menagerie
    Wisteria - Bookworm's Dinner

    I cannot thank the volunteers enough. Nor can I adequately express how excited I am that each of them will be making an appearance here at Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Each of my guests are quality bloggers who I am honored to host on my blog. I hope you will drop in and read what my guests have to say, and if you have the time, be sure and leave a comment. I am sure they would love to hear from you!

    I hope you all have a great next few weeks and I will see you again at the end of the month. Happy Reading!

    In Reading Mews:

    Reviews Posted:
    The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
    Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey & a Giveaway

    Currently Reading:

    In the Woods by Tana French

    New Additions to my TBR collection:
    Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same by Mattox Roesch (Many thanks to Unbridled Books for sending me this one. It was an unexpected but much welcome surprise!)

    Other Posts of Interest This Week:
    Monday at the Movies: A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That
    Wordless Wednesday: Riding the Highway (Part 9)

    © 2009, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.
    If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


    1. I've linked to this post in a Weekly Geeks one I've made today. Foundations of Taste in Crime Fiction reading

    2. It might sound crazy, but I read crime fiction for light relief. Given that a lot of my reading is for academic purposes something that I don't have to give much thought to makes a real change.

      I hope you enjoy 'In the Woods' I think French is one of the great new crime writers. The second one 'The Likeness', is even better.

    3. In the Woods is patiently waiting on my shelf as well. I read The Likeness first (I know, not good to read out of order), and I loved it!

      Before I started blogging about 80% of what I read was true crime or crime thriller fiction. I read them for many reasons, but mine was primarily to better understand the demented mind. I love psychology!

      I can't wait to hear from all your guest bloggers, and appreciate your willingness to allow me to grace your page! Happy Sunday!

    4. Enjoy your vacation! Time away is always a good thing.

      Cool idea to have guest bloggers; I'll be checking in!

    5. I used to read a bunch of crime fiction in the fairly recent past. Usually the reason I was reading it was because I wanted something so suspenseful I couldn't put it down. I keep some of it around these days, even though it doesn't make up the bulk of my reading by any means, because it's always nice to have a quick, unputdownable book around.

      I think I quit reading so much crime fiction when we started watching shows like Law and Order, though, and I started feeling oversaturated with all this fictional crime. Maybe if I quit watching the shows, I'll start reading the books again! LOL

    6. Kerrie - What a great use of Wordle! And thank you for the link, Kerrie. :-)

      Table Talk - I don't think that sounds crazy at all! I've read crime fiction on occasion for that reason as well, especially in between a couple of heavier or more serious books. Of course, it depends on the book. Some crime fiction is fairly dark and serious itself.

      I am really liking "In the Woods" so far. It isn't quite what I expected--but in a good way.

      Sandy - A friend of mine did that too, read "The Likeness" first. I am glad to hear that it's good too!

      Crime Fiction is definitely one of my favorite genres. And like you, I have a real interest in what makes people behave the way they do (one of the reasons I majored in psychology).

      I really am thrilled that I have such a great group guest blogging for me. I can't thank you enough, Sandy, for stepping in like this for me.

      Linda - Thanks, Linda. I couldn't be more pleased with the line-up of bloggers that will be visiting in the next three weeks. :-)

      Megan - Sometimes a person really does need something that will so absorb her attention that she won't want to stop reading.

      That's interesting about how watching crime fiction on TV impacted your crime fiction reading. Your need for that genre is being met elsewhere now. I guess I just have a never ending need for it since I still crave both religiously. :-) Truth be told though, I don't watch a lot of television. And as much as I love the Law & Order shows, I don't even watch those regularly--I only catch them now and then.

    7. I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed your post so much this morning that I referenced it in my own TSS post.

      I hope you don't mind.....

    8. Molly - I don't mind at all. :-) Thank you.

    9. I would love to have heard that radio show. Sounds really interesting!!


    10. I enjoy crime fiction...I think it's the puzzle of it all that I enjoy. Figuring it out along with the characters. I never even watched one episode of Law & Order. I guess I just have too many TV shows and books on my plate already. I have watched Criminal Minds which is an interesting show.

    11. It's funny, I think I stopped watching so much Law & Order because I was reading a lot of crime fiction! But yes, I think that having so much of one subject kind of burns you out. I think that's why I read a variety of genre's of books....

      I liked In The Woods too. Not really what I expected,but a good read. My DH loved it! And that book really started him getting into more literary reads.

      Have a wonderful vacation! I look forward to reading all the guest posts too! Being a fairly new blogger, I didn't feel up to the challenge of guest posting (can you imagine "failing" on someone else's blog!?) but will be checking them all out to see how the more experienced do their thing!

      Take care,

    12. I have "In the woods" on my TBR pile and can't wait to read it! I'll be looking for your review, too. :)

    13. What an interesting radio show that must've been. Personally, I read crime fiction, (and watch crime shows on TV), because I like guessing along. I love putting all the clues together and seeing where they lead me. I'm also a sucker for forensics, so I love it when they play a role. One of my favourite books last year, (NEW AMSTERDAM), dealt with forensic sorcery, while one of my favourite books so far this year, (THE ANGEL OF DARKNESS), is all about historical forensics. I gotta have my forensics.

    14. Lezlie - I should check and see if it's available on a podcast . . .

      Yvonne - Solving the puzzle is one of the aspects I enjoy too--seeing how all the pieces fit together.

      You'd be glued to the TV 24/7 if you watched all the crime shows out there. It's probably best that you don't. :-)

      Suzanne - I prefer mixing up my reading too. It helps to have several favorites when it comes to types of books we like to read. :-)

      I don't think I was expecting In the Woods to be quite so literary--not that I'm complaining. I can't see my husband reading it though for that very reason. I am glad your husband really liked it!

      I am sure you would have written a great guest post, Suzanne. I do understand your hesitation though. Even having been blogging for three years now, I think I'd still be really hesitant to do something like this.

      Kay - It's really good so far!

      Memory - It is fun to guess along as you go. I often figure the whodunit out pretty quickly, but that doesn't stop me from seeing how it all plays out. Forensics is so fascinating. When I was serving on the jury for that murder trial several years ago, you can bet I was intrigued by what the experts had to say.

    15. What a fun and interesting post, Wendy! I'll be posting about mysteries later this week, and tying into yours and Molly's posts. I just bought 13 mysteries at our local mystery books store, so I think I'm going into a mystery binge!

      As for reading mysteries....I'd say I read them because, like Table Talk, they are a great escape for me. I am thoroughly involved in the mystery and in whodunit. I think it does let us understand, thankfully vicariously! the criminal mind a little bit; it also I think restores a sense of justice to our world, which I think is damaged.

      I did a mystery course at university, tracing the evolution of the mystery, and it was fascinating to see that the very first mystery - generally Edgar Allen Poe's The Rue Morgue Mystery - involved murder. I've read it - quite good! - but almost from the time fiction began to be written (ie not under the Church's eye) mystery and crime fiction was one of the first chosen genres to try to come to grips with our morally complex world.

      Yikes, I think I just wrote part of my post! Have a good trip, Wendy, and see you when you get back. I hope you get lots of reading (mystery?) done!

    16. sorry, I think i have the title of Edgar Allen Poe's story wrong....Murders in the Rue Morgue, 1841, and it's the first detective story.

    17. I suspect people's reasons for reading crime fiction are as diverse as their reasons for reading fiction, period. I don't know too much about mystery, but I've seen these conversations about fantasy time and again.

      You'll be missed, Wendy! Take care, and we'll see you in a couple of weeks.

    18. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on In The Woods. I've read and enjoyed it myself but it is a different type of thriller. Let me know what you think of the ending if you would please :)

    19. Wonderful post, I tend to read mysteries to escape or as a break after intense or difficult reads. Mostly its the characters and the puzzles that intrigue me. Have a great vacation.

    20. I've been on a crime reading tear, so I know from where you're coming. I don't know if those are any of the reasons I read crime fiction or not. Okay, maybe the escape, but otherwise, I don't know...

      ...not being helped by brother-in-law who introduced me to a new series called Hard Case Crime.

    21. I like the comment that reading crime fiction enhances problem solving skills. I really think that is true.

      I am soooo looking forward to guest hosting your blog. Just let me know when and how. LOL

      Walter Mosley is top top top in my book. No pun intended. My ex, who is not a huge reader would always take a audio of Mosley's on his long trips down south. He loved his writing.

      My greyts won't read but they do like to sleep that's for sure. They are into protein, carbs and fat not paper. LOL

      Hope you have a great week.

      PS...I'll check out the new blog of your friends.

    22. Yaaaay! Buddy is very excited to visit your blog. Not sure I would like someone taking my books off my desk when I wasn't looking. lol. I'd be taking it with me too.

    23. That's a good question--what draws people to crime fiction. What draws people to romance, or any other genre for that matter? I think it's different for every person.

    24. I hope you have a great time away! We will miss you tons!

    25. I enjoy reading crime fictions; some may seem scarier and thrilling than the rest but they're all great escapism to me.

      Take care, Wendy! You'll be missed!

    26. Susan - Thank you, Susan! My internet time is very limited right now since I'm away, but I hope to check out your post about mysteries when I get the chance.

      The course you mention sounds fascinating! I would love to take something like that.

      I haven't read the Poe story you mention, but it's included in a collection stories I have by him that I've been wanting to read.

      Nymeth - I agree. I think many of these reasons for reading mysteries would fit those for a variety of different types of books.

      Samantha - I finished In the Woods last night and really enjoyed it. I thought the ending was very fitting. I love how the author handled it. I'm probably in the minority though. LOL

      Gavin - Thank you. Mysteries do make good "break" books when you need something a little less serious, I agree. Of course, some mysteries though are quite serious themselves, so it really does depend on the book.

      Just A Reading Fool - My husband is really into the Hard Case Crime novels. He's a member of their book club and he's bought up just about every book he can find (and afford). Someday I plan to give them a try too. :-)

      Wisteria - It's helped hone mine, at least. :-)

      I sent you an e-mail earlier in the week. I hope you got it? My internet access is very spotty right now since I'm not home.

    27. Kelly - I really could use a vacation! I wish that's what this was. But thank you!

      Gautami - LOL Yes, they most certainly do, don't they?

      Dar - I'm excited that Buddy will be visiting. :-)

      Yes, I really would rather know where my books are going (and have approved of their leaving) rather than have them disappear off my desk.

      Heidenkind - I agree. I think it is different for each of us, what draws us to what we read.

      Kristie - Thank you, Kristie! I miss you all. I have some free time this morning and so thought I would drop in and visit where I could.

      Melody - Yes, there is definitely a huge variety of crime fiction out there.

      Thank you, Melody!


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