I mentioned last week that I'd read a friend's manuscript and enjoyed it a lot. One reason is that it was different from my usual reading. In other words, not a mystery.

I love mysteries. I read them, write them, even think them. Items on the evening news revolve in my head and I start figuring out how that could be a plot for the next project. It usually doesn't happen, because I have way more plots than I have time to write them. (Probably a good thing.) I may have reached a kind of saturation point with mysteries, however, because I've noticed that these days the plot had better be pretty tight or I become angry with the author. Lots of offenders get tossed into the Goodwill box, never to be finished because things got sloppy.

Once in a while a reader needs to step outside her genre and sample the great Something Else. We need to be reminded of great writing that doesn't involve clever clues or tough P.I.s. For this type of thing, I often turn to Anne Tyler, Barbara Kingsolver, or similar authors, storytellers who are good enough that I don't miss the dead bodies.

Adventure can be fun. I like the imagination of a good Clive Cussler or the derring-do of a spy thriller, but not all the time. I consider those "vacation books," to be read in airports or in hotel rooms in the early morning hours when I'm awake but the rest of the world isn't. In more serious moods I catch up on any classics I've missed. (I tell myself I'm going to read them all again, but it's hard when there's so much I haven't read yet. ) I'm not much for a lot of today's bestsellers that are supposed to be uplifiting or "character-driven," whatever that's supposed to mean. Actually they bore me: no action, a lot of unhappy people, authors who are more concerned with pretty prose than with storytelling. There are exceptions, of course. I've mentioned WATER FOR ELEPHANTS as an example, and it's a great one.

So what am I in the mood for? I'm looking at a book in my TBR pile. It's historical, which gives me at least the excuse that I may learn something. It's a mystery, my favorite genre. And it was written by Bev Myers, who hasn't disappointed me yet. Life is good as long as we have books.

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