As a book blogger in the 16-21 age bracket, I often feel like there are certain expectations that I place upon myself about what I “should” be reading. Contemporary YA novels were always one of the main genres that I reached for in the last few years; unlike any other genre they described the experiences that I was going through at the time – navigating school situations, friendships and figuring out who I was. Fast forward to 2018, and I’m feeling myself become increasingly separated from any urge to read this genre. It’s not that I can’t still relate to the novels, because of course I am forever learning about myself and growing, but I simply don’t have the desire to read many of them at all.
When I first started this blog, I felt as though my area of comfort was reviewing contemporary YA novels. My post ‘The Importance of YA Literature’ is still one of my favourite posts that I have ever written, and I will never stop advocating the fact that YA novels have more power to verbalise incredibly important social issues than many other mediums.
In 2017, however, I read a total of six fantasy novels out of the 27 that I read in total and not a single historical fiction novel, which honestly shocked me when I read it! Fantasy is my passion; it’s what I immediately think of when I think of my identity as a reader, it’s what I want to produce in the future if I’m ever able to publish something of my own, and it’s what never fails to makes me fall in love with reading over and over again. So the question remains… why do I read so little of it?
For some reason over the last couple of years I’ve continued to pick up contemporary YA every single time I visit the library. This isn’t to say that I haven’t read some gems in that time: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, The Hate You Give… both are very much realistic novels. Heck, one of my favourite books of all time, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, is also a YA set in the real world (and something of a modern classic in my non-biased opinion). But other than those few special or important novels, there have been very few contemporary novels recently that have really reminded me why I love reading, and yet I can’t remember the last time that I read a fantasy novel I didn’t fall in love with.
This leads me on to my next point, which is that I feel like as a literature student, there are certain obligations upon me to want to keep picking up the classics. Again, I adore reading works that have been incredibly important or influential throughout history and will always pick them up, but for the moment I read so many of them on a weekly or monthly basis for my modules that I’m not feeling much like picking them up outside of that. I am also a history student (hoorah for joint honours!), yet I feel like I don’t read enough historical fiction, despite having loved every novel in that genre that I’ve read in recent years.
What I’m trying to say, in a very roundabout and slightly essay-ish way, is that I don’t always feel like I pick up the books that I desperately want to read for fear of the expectations I’ve placed upon myself – and that’s ridiculous. This year, I want to read at least fifteen fantasy novels (I’m expecting a lot of my Goodreads goal to be filled with course books), purely because they’re what I truly want to be reading right now. If an amazing contemporary YA novel comes onto my radar then I’m definitely not going to avoid picking it up, I’ve just decided that I’m at the point where that’s not necessarily what I want to reach for anymore, and that’s okay.
As always with discussion posts, I adore hearing what others’ opinions are on the matters I bring up. Do you feel like you place certain expectations upon yourself for what you should be reading? Is there a genre that makes your heart soar but that you somehow don’t seem to read enough of? Please do let me know!