Getting philosophical here…
It is said that good books are like wine, more you enjoy them better you appreciate them, the classics be it wine or books are good. The thing I’m concerned about now has to do with both wine and books and I do enjoy both.
When I was growing up, I went to the library, couldn’t afford to buy books. The smaller libraries I went to, their main distinction was fiction – non-fiction. So I browsed through the fiction shelves, pulled out a book here and there. I wasn’t concerned what genre it was. I read it, liked it more often than not, and returned it.
When I got older, and it came to wine, I didn’t really have any particular idea about it. I liked red wine with food, white wine too, especially with fish, and rose well, that was good with just about anything in the summer. But that was it. I wasn’t very knowledgeable about the grapes involved, and frankly I didn’t care. If the Chateau X wine tasted good, that’s what I bought the next time. But if the wine I liked had more Cabernet than Merlot, or if the rose was made with Grenache or Syrah, it didn’t really matter to me. I cared about the taste, and if the wine went well with the purpose, food or just being a nice “chatty” wine to enjoy in a mellow summer evening.
Now, thanks to Amazon and books, we have this micromanagement of genres. I understand it’s impossible to browse among the shelves like I used to but I’m not sure if pigeonholing a book in a every kind of a genre is good for the reader or the author. Take mysteries, a genre I thought I knew something about. I’ve read thousands of mysteries over the years. I like the puzzle, the use of my “little gray cells” to try to solve the murder. But it’s a bit annoying to find, that in the top 20 category Mystery/British Detectives, the number one book is “Murder Out of Turn” which is set entirely in New York. Louise Penny’s books (number 4 and 15) are set in Quebec in Canada and Lee Childs’ two books (16 and 20) set mostly in the USA. Mind you, I’m not saying anything about these books. Personally, I really like Louise Penny’s books, the way she writes about Quebec city in the middle of the winter makes me want to move there. And Lee Child’s books are good too. But, these books do NOT have British Detectives.
Same thing with wine. Nowadays, if I want to find a wine which would be a nice chatty wine to go with some shrimp, aioli, and bread, I have to first figure out which grape I want in order to find the right shelf in the store! I know I like cabernet, don’t like Syrah, I like Chardonnay, if it’s not oaked. BUT the same thing that has been going on with books is happening with wines too, pigeonholing. Why do I have to, in order to find a wine or a book I like, figure out IF I like a particular grape more than another one, why do I even need to know the grapes used? If I like Louise Penny, who is very much Canadian and her books are set there, why would I look for her books among British Detectives? And why do I want to figure out that in order to find Agatha Christie’s “And then there was none” I have to check out category called Historical British & Irish Literature only to find it next to Ken Follet’s “Fall of Giants”! Does this make sense to you? It doesn’t make sense to me. How am I supposed to find a good puzzling mystery if I don’t know the name of the author?
The trouble is, I don’t really have a good alternative to offer, but I’m sure there must be a few literature loving engineers around who can figure this one out. When it comes to wine, I just stick with a good Rioja with steak, Sancerre with fish, and a dry rose from just about anywhere to sit and drink while munching on shrimp and aioli in the summer. And I really do not care which grapes are involved in any one of those!