Question: All other things being equal, would you rather read a book that’s hard/challenging/rewarding or light/enjoyable/easy?
First of all, I don't ever see anything as being equal when it comes to reading. My perspective has definitely changed over the years, and probably has even changed from last week, partly from experiences I have had and partly from things I have learned. I definitely have realized that my reading depends on my moods, my experiences, my thoughts, and what I am going through at the moment. I know if I am going through something difficult at the moment, like I am currently dealing with my father's cancer and my husband getting posted (he's in the military), I am in no mood for something deep and haunting and sad. I want light and happy and easy.
One of the things I have always done is read many books at once. I've noticed that when I read many books, they all vary in intensity from light to challenging. I tend to flit from book to book so that when one gets too deep and intense, and I really need to sit and think about what's happening for a while, I will drift to another, lighter novel and read it for a while while I sort through what's happening in another novel. What I can't do is go without reading. When I first met my husband, he thought I was insane because I was always reading more than one book at a time. He never could understand why I read the way I did as he always stuck to one series and one book at time. I've tried to explain, but he doesn't get it. Only my mom gets it because she does the same thing.
After all of this meandering, and I do apologize for that, what it comes down to is that I will read anything, depending on my mood. I love the challenging novels and look for them. Having a French background, I also challenge myself to read many of the novels in French, so novels like Madame Bovary, Les Trois Mousquetaires, Notre-Dame de Paris, Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours, Candide, Germinal, L'Etranger, A la recherche du temps perdu and so on, I bought in French, plus some I studied in university.
I also tend to go in phases where I will read nothing but one type for months, then read another genre for a while. In my early twenties, I set myself the task of reading 50 classic novels like Treasure Island, all of the Jane Austen novels, all the Bronte novels (again), D.H. Lawrence, Sir Walter Scott, Kingsley, Stevenson, James, Doyle, Wilde, Swift, etc... and I wouldn't read anything else until I finished my list. I did it, but it was incredibly challenging, especially when I was sitting there with books 3 of certain trilogies I'd been dying to read. Okay, okay, I did cheat, but only a little!!!!
The bottom line is, I like both challenging and easy. And right now, I'm off to read my very nice, very easy, cozy mystery novel.