I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts recently because music brings out a lot of emotions that I still don’t wish to explore. So podcasts and YouTube videos have been a big portion of my daily background recently. My current favorite podcast is by one of my favorite blog authors, Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy. Her podcast “What Should I Read Next?” has added so many books to my tbr list and is making me think a lot more critically about the books I read.
In her podcast she always asks her guests what their reading style is and has them list three books they love, one they hate, and what they’re reading right now. In writing this post, I want to emulate that model and discuss how my reading habits have changed through my life.
My reading style is still very much encouraged by habit, but I’m trying to change my style and that’s what matters. Even as a 22-year old, I still really lean towards reading middle grade books. There’s so much to learn about growing up in these books meant for preteens and there’s such an innocence to them that I love to read. They’re easy escape books and I can breeze through them.
When I was a young teenager, I avoided YA books. I tried a few and the ones I picked were contemporary novels about the lives of high schoolers that I couldn’t relate to. The sex and partying in these books were nothing that I wanted to be involved in and it turned me off for the entire section of books because I hadn’t found the right ones. Because of these few bad experiences, I assumed every piece of YA fiction was the same.
Similarly, I was recommended a book when I was about 12 or 13 from the adult section of the library and was so horrified by the amount of sexual content in an otherwise wonderful book. Of course back in high school and even into college I was quite a prude and was embarrassed by the idea of sex between anyone and wasn’t ready for it to be a part of my library. My severe innocence gave me a lot of trouble in high school when the subject matter in many of the books we read in English class got to be too much. But that’s another story that I would love to delve into later.
When I was a teenager, a big part of my reading habits was finding one author I loved and reading every book they had written until I had completed their entire collection. Authors such as Beverly Lewis and Ted Dekker nearly have entire shelves on their own in my personal library. Once I found an author or topic I loved, I couldn’t focus on any other book until I had tired myself out of my current obsession. This makes sense with my tastes for all kinds of media. I have just enough appreciation for everything that I can become obsessed with a topic for a short period of time and then move onto something else.
To this day I still have a hard time finding contemporary novels I like. I’m not a fan of chick-lit and hardly ever find some from that genre that I enjoy. Just like anything there are, of course, exceptions, but in general I prefer other types of stories. While I don’t have a problem with sexual content in books anymore, so many stories have it for the sake of writing it. If a detailed sexual encounter serves your story, by all means I’ll enjoy it. If it could be left out or minimized, I’d much rather continue with the plot than sex for the sake of sex. I’ll never pick up 50 Shades of Grey because that kind of story doesn’t serve any purpose in my reading life.
A constant from my younger reading self to now is my fondness for historical fiction. My favorite things to read about are medieval times, piracy, and anything around 1900-1940’s America. Although I’ll read any kind of historical fiction, these are by far my favorite time periods. I went through a Tudor Family phase where I wanted to read every book on King Henry VII. Even before working as a pirate I’ve loved pirate stories both fiction and non-fiction. The early 20th century had so much history from the boom in immigration to two world wars, prohibition, and all new forms of progress, which makes it so diverse and interesting to find books from that time period.
I’ve also always been a fan of the adventure that comes with fantasy, apocalyptic, and thrill books. Anything with a lot of drama and plot twists and excitement is always a great pick for me. Whether it’s dragons or aliens or serial killers, I’m such a believer in a fast-paced adventure.
Something that will never change in my reading style is my ability to devour a book in one sitting. While it doesn’t always happen, when I become completely enthralled in a story, I can’t and won’t put the book down until I’ve read the last page and the sequel (if applicable) is on order. Growing up homeschooled, I had a math book and a library card and spent hours at the library and would leave with stacks I couldn’t see over and would finish them all before the due date. There have been days where I’ve finished more than one book because I was so hungry for the story it provided me.
I’m in that weird age where YA isn’t quite directed at me anymore, but adult fiction doesn’t feel 100% relevant to me yet. This is such a strange age to be, where I can relate to both areas and not feel quite at home in either. Recently I’ve found myself reading a lot of timeless-era books with heavy themes, some thrill and mystery, and slightly supernatural. These ideas flow pretty well between age groups and don’t require the reader to be at any one place in their life to enjoy the journey of the characters.
As I said, I lean a lot towards middle grade books even now. Although I’ve been able to find some really wonderful YA books through the last few years as well. I still feel like I’ve hardly branched out enough into the classics and adult books. For the last few years I’ve attempted to challenge myself in reading a classic every few months or so, just to feel more well-rounded. While I have a lot of adult novels on my shelves, I’m trying to work through them around my beloved YA series that are so popular right now. with this podcast though I’ve discovered a new love for adult fiction and have been able to broaden my reading scope to an entire section of the library I have only skimmed before.
Similarly, I read very little non-fiction. The last few years I’ve also found a few memoirs and positive self-reflection type books that I’ve made my way through as a way of encouraging myself through this whole “growing up” thing. I’m very appreciative of these books that hold truth and experience in them, whether I read them often or not. Some days when I’m feeling discouraged, I’ll pick up a biography or memoir of someone who also struggled at one or many times in their life. Reading is such a wonderful way to remember you’re not alone, and while fictional characters’ struggles can be helpful too, there’s nothing like non-fiction truth to keep that real person’s experience close to your own.
Some of my favorite books will always be the ones I read in my childhood. Those books were the ones that shaped me into the reader and person that I am today. I believe so strongly that books are important no matter what it is you’re reading. If it speaks to you and satisfies the need you have, then it’s a good book, or magazine, or blog. It’s interesting to see how habits change and tastes mature along with the reader. I’m proud of the books I’ve read and excited for the ones I haven’t discovered yet.