Deborah's comment yesterday got me thinking about phases my reading has traversed.
In high school I read a few books of merit, but mostly I read--um--trash. One title was Swing High Sweet Pussycat. I suppose it was romance. Amazon doesn't list it so who knows. Toward the end of high school and in the years between it and college, I read essays (Paul Williams--the writer, not the singer), Jack Kerouac and the Beats, bought Swann's Way by Proust though I never finished it, and tried to read Rod McKuen but it didn't work. I read The Prophet and lots of books about California, especially Haight Ashbury. I wanted to travel to L.A. and do Primal Scream therapy, but I was too young. (Remember Janov?) I read books on gestalt therapy and read Jung.
At Goddard, I discovered Raymond Carver, the poet Stephen Dobyns, Michael Ryan (whom I later came to know), and the magical realists. Borge struck a chord. So did James Baldwin. I loved all of his novels, especially Giovanni's Room. I loved Margaret Atwood's Edible Woman and Surfacing. I admired Virgina Woolf and I believe I wanted to be her, though her writing wasn't my favorite. Henry James' Portrait of a Lady I liked very much.
Later, Terry McMillan's first novel Mama impressed me, and so did Clarence Major's first novel (he's mostly known as a poet), Such was the Season. Joan Didion.
Then writers like Amy Hempel and T. Jefferson Parker (my favorite crime writer) and Don DeLillo came onto the radar screen. And now....now there are too many to mention. I've made lists on my Web site, penonfire.com and at Readerville.com, on my author's page, but they are inconclusive lists because they just keep growing. I just finished Lolly Winston's Happiness Sold Separately and LOVED it.
I hate writing about my favorite books because as soon as I say what one is, another pops up.
What are you reading and how has your reading changed over the years?