I haven't been posting these regularly like I had originally planned. My workload has been increasingly unwieldy lately, plus I've taken on some freelance. I'm hoping this new installment will be a renewal and I will be able to start posting weekly again.
(I got the term “genre kryptonite” from Book Riot. It is essentially defined as a genre/type that is a personal weakness, i.e. something that you just can’t resist. The term confused me at first, as I associate kryptonite with something that can destroy you, but that’s not how it’s being used here. These are also a combination of genres and subgenres.)
Nonfiction books about Jane Austen. I have a Jane Austen shelf. I must have read at least 30 nonfiction studies of her work by now, and I never get tired of it. Of all my reading habits, this one makes me miss my college library the most. Since I’ve already done a F5F for Austen I won’t bother listing titles. The link if you would like suggestions: Fabulous Five Friday debut.
Georgian/Victorian/Gilded Age fantasy. Fantasy is often focused on medievalism and pre-modern tropes, which is great but overused. I love that fantasy set in the 19th and early 20th century mashes together my favorite historical period to study with magical elements, and the best examples often have that delicious social complexity that makes novels from that period so enjoyable for me. My ultimate favorite in this category is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.
Books about feminism and gender. This covers an immense array of possibilities across fiction and non-fiction. I’m especially partial to essay collections and literary studies that use gender studies and feminism as the key reference point. The representative title for me currently is Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.
Short story collections and anthologies. I’m especially partial to short speculative fiction and “weird” stories, often by authors like Kelly Link, Nalo Hopkinson, Hannu Rajaniemi, Jane Yolen, Alison Nutting, Neil Gaiman, and many others, though I’m also partial to themed anthologies that give you a lot of variety. I’ve collected way more than I’ll ever read, but I’ll keep getting them anyway. My current favorite (most likely since it’s the most recent collection I’ve read) is Nalo Hopkinson’s Falling in Love with Hominids.
Books about Parisian and overall French culture. Francophilia is not rare, but I still find my attraction to these books a bit weird. I’m especially drawn to those “how to be French” lifestyle books, even though they really offer nothing more than surface-level, unrealistic aspirational stuff. But I find something fascinating in looking at a culture that is so incredibly focused on assimilation, and yet cares so little for people’s opinions. One of my favorites is What French Women Know by Debra Ollivier, since she combines her outsider view with an insider’s access (she is an American married to a Frenchman).