Monday, May 22, 2017

Is Your Reading Palate Biased?

I spent last weekend in California wine country and must admit to imbibing a few select years. Although, not a connoisseur of the fermented grape product, I’ve always considered myself more of a rose/red wine type gal, and have been known to steer away from anything but sweet white wines. That left me surprised, when at one tasting, I relished all the samples, including the whites.
Glasses lined up in front of each person, waiting for the wine to be adding for sampling.
Honestly, I shouldn’t have been surprised, because our hostess did her homework. She had checked the rankings of California wines from the area, learned where the leading brands’ grapes were grown, who used them in their products, and which wineries had the best reputations. Ultimately, she chose a winery for the tasting she believed would be perfect for her wine loving friends. Thus, even those wines I considered my least favorite, turned out to be excellent.

Before you quit reading, thinking I’m on a spoiled girl rant, this wine tasting set my writing and reading mind on alert. Several times before the tasting, people declared they only drank reds, didn’t care for blends, or preferred whites. Yet, at the end of the tasting, they had been pleasantly surprised and enjoyed a wine they had been convinced their palate disliked.

So why am I bringing to light this fermented topic? Because I’ve recently heard similar things from readers about books. Readers find a niche they feel comfortable reading. They like a romance with a happy ending, or a cozy mystery with a humorous heroine. When a friend suggests they might enjoy something slightly different, they respond with “I don’t read that genre. Tried it once and it wasn’t for me.”

Perhaps their reading palate is biased. Sure, they may have tried those genres in the past, but did they do their homework? Did the reader simply snatch up what “everyone else” was reading and discover, while popular, the characters didn’t pull them into the story, and the plotting was next to non-existent. I suggest to readers (and that includes me), do your homework. If you love strong heroines, ask other readers for authors who create them. Read about the author on Amazon or Goodreads. See if any of the reviews resonate with you. If you hate cliffhangers and that is the author’s specialty, move on, but broaden your horizons. There are so many great stories, don’t limit yourself and miss out on an incredible novel, character, or series.
So many wines, so many types. Surely there are more than one that will suit your taste...just like books.
Also, don’t discount authors because they are self-published or Indie. There are a lot of bad books out there in all publishing forums. Again, do your homework. What have other readers said about them? Do they have reviews? Have they won recognized national contests (not the kind their friends voted for)? Remember, many self-published authors today were previously published with “big” publishing houses and have since gone out on their own. One reason this is frequently done is because the publisher may have canned a series the readers love and the author decides to continue it on their own.


So, expand your reading palate. Take a chance or two on sampling new books outside your comfort zone. At the special wine tasting my friend set-up, we sampled seven wines, and even combined them with foods known to enhance the taste. I quickly became a fan. So I toast to you, hoping you do a little sampling on your own, and discover a few new authors and genres.
While chips and dip enhanced one of the wines, I have it on good authority (wink) that chocolate goes well with most books.

8 comments:

Julie Moffett said...

Great post and a great reminder to always keep an open mind! Now I'm thirsty. It must be 5 o'clock somewhere! :)

jean harrington said...

Why do I like wine stories? Especially at 10:30 a.m.? Well, it has to be a dark and stormy night somewhere. Hey, I just glanced up and read Julie's comment; she stole my thunder!

Dee said...

I consider myself quite open minded when it comes to reading and willing to take on new authors, even an indie or self-published ones.
;-)
Thanks for the post!

Sharon Calvin said...

Yes, I've fallen into this bias myself a time or two dozen! I didn't read historicals or vampires...until I discovered a writer who gave those genres a twist that worked for me. I've become a bit more diverse in my genres but less tolerant of weak stories (or characters!) So maybe two steps forward and one back!

Anne Marie Becker said...

Good points, Sandy. I've recently been expanding my palatte into some nonfiction stuff I wouldn't have tried in the past. It's fun to learn new things. ;D And why don't books have suggested wine pairings? I think that would be awesome!

Sandy Parks said...

Thanks for all the comments. I definitely think w should consider book/wine pairing. Hmm, perhaps the basis for another blog!

Rita said...

In the last couple of years I've made an effort to read outside my comfort zone. I've read two books I was very uncomfortable with the subject. But I can't forget about the characters in both of the books. I sometimes wonder how they are doing. In that same period of time I returned two books by best-selling authors one was an auto buy. I can tell you I will never purchase anything from those authors again. For me it's not the genre it's the characters and the respect the author has for characters and how they weave the story.
And yes I've thought many times about having a book wine/pairing. Or alcohol. LOL!

Sandy Parks said...

I think I sense a definite pairing coming up. Must include, as Rita suggested, any alcohol, as off the top of my head a lot of books might go well with Baileys and coffee, or tequila and lime, or....