The endless piles of genre fiction are the key to happiness. They’re the key to picking out the things that actually make you happy in this world instead of the things that you’re told are good for you. Ninety percent of everything you read is going to be crap one way or the other, so make sure it’s the crap that makes you smile, and don’t apologize for it.pajiba.com guest post
Having to amuse myself during those earlier years, I read voraciously and widely. Mythic matter and folklore made up much of that reading—retellings of the old stories (Mallory, White, Briggs), anecdotal collections and historical investigations of the stories' backgrounds—and then I stumbled upon the Tolkien books which took me back to Lord Dunsany, William Morris, James Branch Cabell, E.R. Eddison, Mervyn Peake and the like. I was in heaven when Lin Carter began the Unicorn imprint for Ballantine and scoured the other publishers for similar good finds, delighting when I discovered someone like Thomas Burnett Swann, who still remains a favourite.This was before there was such a thing as a fantasy genre, when you'd be lucky to have one fantasy book published in a month, little say the hundreds per year we have now. I also found myself reading Robert E. Howard (the Cormac and Bran mac Morn books were my favourites), Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and finally started reading science fiction after coming across Andre Norton's Huon of the Horn. That book wasn't sf, but when I went to read more by her, I discovered everything else was. So I tried a few and that led me to Clifford Simak, Roger Zelazny and any number of other fine sf writers.These days my reading tastes remain eclectic, as you might know if you've been following my monthly book review column in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I'm as likely to read Basil Johnston as Stephen King, Jeanette Winterson as Harlan Ellison, Barbara Kingsolver as Patricia McKillip, Andrew Vachss as Parke Godwin—in short, my criteria is that the book must be good; what publisher's slot it fits into makes absolutely no difference to me.