Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Genre... aka Food Groups

My fellow Peas have done such a good job covering this prompt about genre that I wasn't sure what else I could add. But as I was eating a snack after dinner last night, an idea struck me. Genre was a lot like food. So, today I'm going to talk about how I equate my perception of genre to my personal eating habits.

So, first, you have your "good-for-you" things that you know you ought to eat/read, and on occasion actually crave, but which may not always be your first choice. Like fruit and vegetables. For me, the fruit and vegetables of genre range from literary fiction -- including the classics -- and through the broad spectrum of non-fiction {including cookbooks, self-help, writing, art, etc}. In general, the farther from fiction the genre gets, the less desirable the food type. Like my genre choices, the fruit and veggies can easily be stuff I like, but which I just don't often pick up. Case in point: every non-fiction book I've picked up, I've thoroughly enjoyed... I just haven't picked up that many.

Then there's your "meat and potatoes" -- the tasty stuff. There's good-for-you and bad-for-you in this section, but overall it makes you feel good and satisfies you. That, for me, is fiction as a whole. This is where I read most often and these are the foods that rule my {exceptionally poor} diet.

Okay, so, this is where the "food groups" analogy breaks down a little bit, because I have to put dairy and sweets inside the "meat and potatoes" of fiction to get my next point across... but then again, foods have a sneaky way of "genre blending" as well {like the not-a-vegatable, corn... and the actually-a-fruit, tomato} so I'll just roll with it.

Inside fiction, we have genres like MG, YA, Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and so on. Each of these can fit into the broad categories -- like dairy, for instance -- but can also be broken down into sub-categories -- like cheese and ice-cream. As I see it...

Middle Grade is like dairy. Assuming you aren't lactose intolerant, it's usually pretty easy to find something you like. This genre ranges from staples, like milk and eggs, to indulgences like ice-cream. MG is great as part of your diet, but it isn't practical that it be the only thing you {as an adult} read/eat. It makes you feel good, and is satisfying... but it can't sustain you by itself.

Now, for me, YA is the meat. Not everyone likes it, but it appeals to many, and it's a rich part of any reading diet. It can be lean and healthy, or thick-cut, fatty, and saturated with steak sauce. The bottom line, though, is that it is a good source of reading protein. YA encompasses many genres and is completely devourable. I can't go many "meals" without it.

Horror, Thriller, and Mystery are also what I would consider meats. {Strange, perhaps, given that I very rarely read these genres}. But they'd be more... atypical meats. Things like deer, or alligator, or squid. Some people consider these meats typical, and they may be a major percent of their average meals. But to me they are specialties... things I don't get my hands on regularly and often need to be in the mood for. And when I am in the mood for these, they turn out to be surprisingly satisfying.

Sci-Fi also fits into this atypical meat category. It, however, leans on the squid side for me. One of my favorite things to eat {and coming from me, this is mind-blowingly-weird} is squid salad at my favorite sushi restaurant. One of my all time favorite books is Sci-Fi. The thing is, I'd be hesitant to try the squid in a different restaurant, and likewise, as much as I loved that book, I'm hesitant to try another Sci-Fi unless can get a taste of it and think I would like it just as much.  

Romance is like Halloween candy. It's fun to indulge every now and then. But too much and you feel bad about yourself afterward... start craving vegetables...

Fantasy is my bread. I love bread. Most of my favorite books have some fantasy elements in them, even if they aren't straight-up fantasy. I love granola, oatmeal, bagels, pasta, loaves of anything {except sourdough. *gag*}. I could eat that stuff for EVERY meal. But I can't expect to live a healthy, balanced life of eating/reading with bread alone. Bread is best when it's paired with other things. And that brings me to what I'm trying to say with all of this...

Genre blending is a good thing.

I have these late-night snack cravings sometimes that spiral into very un-ladylike eating binges because, basically, I didn't blend my genres. You see, I'll eat something sweet, like a hershey's bar or something, and by the time I've finished it, I feel overloaded with sugar. I start craving something salty to counteract it. So I go for a handful of chips. Half a bag later, and I've tipped the scales too far the other way. I need something sweet again. So I go for ice cream. And I put in one scoop too many. To avoid chip overdose, I go for something less salty, but not as sweet-- like string cheese. By then I'm stuffed, and all I'd wanted was a light snack! It's a vicious cycle. And the sad part is, it could easily have been avoided. All I needed was trail mix -- with salted nuts and m&m's -- or cereal with some chocolate mixed among the flakes.

The same can be said for genres. Read too much heavy stuff, like a meaty YA about death and love and friendship, and suddenly all I want is a fun, MG ice-cream read. But sooner or later, I need something with more substance, so I turn to a classic -- carrots or asparagus perhaps. Which is good, but maybe then I want something newer, fresher, sweeter... like a strawberry.  Or maybe I need some doughy, delightful bread...

Instead of this constant hopping from one craving to another, with genre blending you get several tastes together. You get a meal. And in meals, you may keep things separate on the plate, but you're still ingesting several categories in one sitting. You get a little bit of everything -- fruits topping meats or chocolate, veggies mixed with pasta, bread and butter -- and you aren't left craving something you were lacking.

So the bottom line is... genre blending, like a meal, gives you something incredibly satisfying. A mixture of many cravings that can be simple or complex. Different parts from different categories brought together to produce something extraordinary... and this makes the experience that much better.

Stay tuned next week for... something...

No comments:

Post a Comment