No Accounting Taste

I grew up in New Mexico on a steady diet of red beans and fried potatoes. Occasionally, we might have a roast, some fried chicken, or pork chops. Only that didn’t happen very often. Also, once in a blue moon my mama would boil some spinach or greens. You couldn’t have paid me enough to get a bite of that green slimy stuff in my mouth! Yuck. But, as I grew older and left home a funny thing happened—my tastes changed. Now I love spinach, cabbage, and cauliflower, plus a lot of other foods that I turned up my nose at when I was young. 

Taste can also be applied to fashion and those changes for me on a regular basis. I’m not that finicky about clothes and shoes and purses. I like a lot of different things—mostly everything my daughters hate. It seems we have opposite ides of what looks flattering. Go figure. 

 kissing-couple.jpgBut, what I’m finding totally amazing is the change that’s happened in my book preference over the last ten years. I used to scan through a book when I contemplated buying it to see if the heroine was young and if there were no “distracting” children in the story. If the heroine wasn’t late teens/early twenties or the story involved children, it went back on the shelf. I wasn’t interested in reading it, no matter how well recommended. Truth was, I didn’t give the book a chance. I wanted the girl young and the story free from anything that cluttered it up, like kids. My interest was only in the relationship between the hero and heroine. 

I’m not too proud of this, but I once spurned a good story simply because the hero was short. I didn’t care that he was handsome and tough. The fact that he was short ruined the story for me. pioneer-children.jpg

Somewhere along the line, and I can’t remember when or how it happened, I drifted toward older heroines and I began to love stories that involved children. I found that children added a depth to the story that it probably wouldn’t have had. And now I can’t stand stories featuring some young thing that hasn’t lived long enough to have real character. Those go back on the shelves. I want my heroine to have had experiences that shaped her into the person she is.  Doesn’t matter to me if she’s married, widowed, or a spinster as long as she’s late twenties to late forties. And I want children, the more children the better. I want a rich, full-bodied story that tugs at my heart. I want the woman to have struggled and lost screen-kiss.jpgsomething very precious so that she knows when fortune smiles on her, she reaches for it with all the strength and tenacity she has. I want the same for my hero. He’s a man who’s rugged, who’s come through the fire, and who isn’t afraid to live life to the fullest. Rarely does he care what those around him think. He’s his own man and he walks tall even though he may not have physical height. I do confess though that I still prefer him to be tall, but I’ll read the story now even if he isn’t. Another thing I’m finding is that I love to read mainstream where there’s no romance at all, which is something I wouldn’t have considered ten years ago. It was romance or nothing.

 There’s no accounting taste I guess. Not everyone’s is the same. That’s why there’s room for all sorts of stories about a multitude of subjects and people. Variety is good. That way everyone can be happy and have what they prefer.

Maybe my age has something to do with my taste. As I get older my tastes in things change? I don’t know. That’s a deep subject. Could be true though. I just wonder if I’ll suddenly develop a craving for seafood? If I do, that’ll be a miracle. I’m not about to discount it with absolute certainty. And I wonder if at some point I’ll yearn for stories with seventy and eighty year old heroes and heroines?? Ha! Can’t imagine that now but who knows. Guess I’ll have to wait and see. 

What are your tastes and do you find that they’re changing or have already changed? Or what kind of books do you really like? I’d love to hear your comments.

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

22 thoughts on “No Accounting Taste”

  1. What a thought provoking post. I think my tastes have changed greatly. I have a whole shelf of books that I loved at around age 18 and 19 that I cannot even stand to read now. The heroine in them drive me crazy and I want to yell at her ‘Get a backbone and tell that d#*k to take a hike.’ And this author is routinely on the NYT list.

    I also used to boycott books with children, but that isn’t enough to make me put them back on the shelf anymore. I’ve gotten pickier about the writing with age. Now, if I can’t find the author’s website and read an excerpt-I’ll stand in the middle of the aisle and read the entire first chapter to make sure it’s something I want to read.

  2. I’d say my tastes haven’t changed a lot so much as it has seen a growth and expansion on what I already liked. As a teen I did read a lot of romance novels, but I also eagerly anticipated the release of V.C. Andrews children-in-peril sagas. I also love to read the classics like Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Persuasion(anything Jane Austen). I love one of my hometown writers, Bobbie Ann Mason, for her short stories and mainstream novels.

    I also like Tanith Lee, where romance is simply interwoven into stories that don’t always have HEAs.

    I still love my romances though and I don’t mind children. I think the biggest turn off for me would be characters who don’t “feel” down to earth, more than anything. If I read the blurb or an excerpt and don’t feel anything for the characters, I’m more likely to put it back on the shelf. I want to feel a connection with them, that they could be someone I could know IRL. Not always, but for the most part.

    As an example- I just finished Pam’s Untamed Cowboy and let me tell you- I loved it because I could imagine having known the characters. They were down to earth and “real.” I was in tears off and on through out from beginning to end, but through the last few chapters, I had to read through my tears. I couldn’t stop crying. (BRAVO!)

    More than anything I look for novels that I know I will feel connected to the characters, to be able to sympathize/empathize with them. Cry when they cry, and cheer when everything works out well in the end.

    Great Post!

  3. My tastes have changed in both food and books as I’ve gotten older. My tastes in different foods changed while I was pregnant. I actually like more foods now….mushrooms, bananas and peas are the major ones. I’ve always loved spinach. 😉

    In regards to books, I used to not like books about widows or older heroines either, but now I love them! I’m not sure how it happened except that maybe more authors are writing about them now, but I’m glad my tastes have changed!

  4. Hi Linda! What a wonderful post! I can’t say that my tastes have changed much over the years. The books I enjoy most are stories of struggle and growth. It doesn’t matter if there are children, and the characters’ physical descriptions have little bearing. I want to see the characters work for their HEA. I like stories about the common man (or woman) who conquer and rise above some kind of devastation or the threat of it. Give me a sympathetic character, most of all. I think a lot of books miss the mark (with me, anyway) these days because I just can’t relate to the characters or they’re not what I consider “sympathetic.”

    The stories that leave me cold are all about the rich growing richer, or trying to achieve some goal that is frivolus, imo. The heroine who is fatigued by her latest round of dinner parties and formal balls while trying to snag the titled husband who will elevate her status. Puh-leeze, put the woman in a hovel and make her work for a week, that’s what I say. LOL!

    But don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoy stories about the wealthy and privileged, so long as the story is worthwhile and the character is sympathetic enough to get me to root for them. So I guess it boils down to sympathetic characters who deserve the goal, and a conflict that will really make them work for that happily-ever-after.

  5. I don’t think my tastes in reading have changed other than as I become a better writer I expect better books from writers. I’ve always read just about anything as long as the characters capture me and hold me through the story.

    I love kids in books. Look around you, when don’t you see kids? They are a big part of the world. I’ve written a couple of books without kids as secondary characters. I usually have at least one as a minor character.

    Interesting blog!

  6. Terry, I’m glad I’m in good company. I thought I might be just plain weird. LOL I’ve been that way a lot in my life it seems! But maybe I just never found others who were like me. 🙂

    Taryn, I’m thrilled that you like my post and got you thinking. I, too, still love the classics and I’m currently rereading Jane Eyre right now in fact. Those stories by the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen are timeless. I never get tired of them. Hey, now I KNOW I’ve got to read Pam’s Untamed Cowboy! I’ve looked for it several times in bookstores here but couldn’t find it. I’ll just order it from Amazon. It’s a must-have. My favorite stories are ones that draw every bit of emotion from me and it sounds like Pam’s book does that. Thanks so much for coming by to comment.

  7. Andrea, I appreciate you stopping by to comment. Yeah, bring on the spinach. I love the stuff now. Makes me wonder what else I’ve been missing and I didn’t even know it!

    Hi Devon! I agree with you on stories with shallow goals and characters that seem to be sleepwalking. There are a lot of them being published these days. Not exactly why either. Or maybe they’ve always been there and our tastes have just changed. All I used to require in a book was that it have some kind of spark between the H/H. And that the heroines was young. And no children in it. Ha! My list is lengthy. Maybe I was focusing on the wrong list of criteria. What can I say, I was young and foolish. 🙂

  8. Linda, Do you suppose you like children as you have children? Like older heroines as you get older? Maybe a lot of it is just identifying with the characters and, come on now, be honest, do you really like boiled spinach? Raw, sure? But they didn’t have nice crispy fresh spinach when we were younger. We’d have given that a chance back then. Maybe. 🙂

  9. Paty, I think one thing that’s happened to me other than I matured was that when I started writing and learning about the craft, I found I did expect a lot more from the books I read. Writing changed me in a big way. My bar raised pretty high. And, you’re right about a lot of kids everywhere we go. And someday they’ll grow up to be readers and writers maybe. Kids add so much depth to life and to stories. They’re our hope for the future. Thanks for sharing your observations!

  10. Mary, you might have something there! I might have a friend who’ll scour the nursing homes with me to find sexy men when we get old. 🙂 🙂 Perish the thought. And yeah, we’ll be eating our spinach. Too funny. Glad you could make it. I was missing you this morning.

  11. Wow, Linda! Fabulous post!!
    Like you, my tastes have changed dramatically since I was a teen. I used to hate fish, seafood, the fresh greens and veggies my stepfather insisted we eat…nor did I realize what a great cook he is because I was too busy whining to my mom *lol*. Perhaps his good taste rubbed off on me 😉 Though the change didn’t hit until I had long since left home–somewhere in my mid twenties. My favorite foods are now fish–my absolute favorite source of protien–and fresh veggies of every variety. I eat salads without dressing, raw spinach like potatoe chips…strange *g*. Even my love of chocolate has changed. I used to be a strickly milk chocolate lover–now, I prefer the dark stuff. I used to hate red wine, preferring the soft pink wines….now, heading into the tail-end of my thirties, I can’t stand anything other than an occational red dry wine.

    As for reading…I’m still a babe in the woods (or mountains of TBR piles as it were *g*) when it comes to romance–I’m as new to reading romance as I am to writing it. I had no idea what I was missing. I continually find new genre’s that fascinate me. Though, I do believe I will always be patrial to westerns. After seven years of romance reading and trying to make up for lost time, no other genre sings to my senses the way a rugged, dusty western with a tough hero and fiesty herione can 🙂

  12. Stacey, thanks for reminding me about my chocolate and wine tastes changing as well! I’d forgotten about those. Yep, definitely dark, rich chocolate and red wine!! But, hey, we’re not getting older. Absolutely not. Our taste buds are just maturing. 🙂

  13. I used to read only romance books. As I’ve gotten older I find myself reading romance, romantic suspense and mysteries.

  14. Thanks, Pam. I found the pics when I searching for something to put on my blog.

    No, Mary, they’re not from book covers. I just happened to find them on Google images. I’m glad you like them. I thought they certainly livened up my blog.

    Estella, the main thing is just to keep reading, no matter what. Our interests may change, but we’ll always find books to match our tastes.

  15. Hi Linda – Great post about changing taste. I guess I’ll always be a romance reader. I’ve been enjoying them since my twenties, and it’s quite a few years since then. First and foremost, I love a good straight romance (I don’t mean sexually) but without paranormal, suspense or mystery elements. Just give me a good old-fashioned romance. It doesn’t matter to me if they are western or contemps. Guess that’s why I write both – I love both time periods.
    I’m actually more open to new foods than new books! I’m eating things now I thought I’d never try before. But I STILL don’t have a taste for Sushi, though my kids eat it once a week usually.

  16. Linda, thought-provoking post. I like H/H who aren’t stereotypes, like the Regency hero who lost an arm and his wife helped him adjust to making love in an accomodating way (wish I knew where it is in my archives as it was VERY well written and a TRUE keeper!) Not EVERY male is TD & H (I prefer 5’10”, sandy or red hair & ADORE beards!)
    I’ve always been an adventuresome eater (spent HS grad money on lobster); learned to like cottage cheese, tomato juice & peel oranges after age 25.
    I FINALLY (over 50) tried pickle juice on canned spinach like my sisters did & it cuts the bitterness; wonder if works on turnip/mustard greens? But fresh spinach is WONDERFUL; learned to crave yellow & orange peppers, enjoy red, barely tolerate green ones; Love artichokes & mushrooms. Pot lucks are GREAT to try new things (like yellow zucchini baked with butter-eat half myself) & get the recipe.

  17. I remember very well those years of growing up on red beans and potatoes and don’t forget the home-made cornbread that Mama made so well. It’s true that as we grow in life, our tastes change and our priorities change as well as the things that are the most important to us. One things that remains true for me and never seems to change is that my “heros have always been cowboys”. 🙂 I love your way of putting pictures into words and love that you are my sister!! I’m so proud of you and so proud of what those little “Smith” girls have grown into.

  18. Just saw The Holiday with Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz & Jude Law, written by Nancy Meyers with them in mind; Eli Wallach, even an unplanned cameo by Dustin Hoffman. Couple of twists, love all movie/music references and I’ll look for her other films as she was the writer as well as director. It’s on STARZ this month.

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