In the midst of reading and reviewing a book last week, I noticed that although I’ve only been blogging for 3 months, just about everything involving my reading habits has undergone a dramatic shift. From the types of books I read/enjoy, to how I read, to what defines “good,” I find the reader I was before blogging to be nearly unrecognizable.
What I Read/Enjoy
Before I started my blog, I read mostly contemporary adult fiction (Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, etc). And, while I still enjoy these authors on occasion, I find that their genre isn’t necessarily my “go-to” when I’m looking for something to read. I used to read very little, if any fantasy, and when I did take a break from my norm, it was usually in favor of something off-beat (Chuck Palahniuk) or a classic. I guess in that time period, I viewed YA lit to be just that, books solely for young adults. Much to my chagrin, I felt too old for it and consequentially, stayed away.
I read A LOT of YA. When I first started my blog, I swore that I wasn’t going to be pigeon-holed. I didn’t want to be like the bloggers that only read YA, or those that only read romance novels. I wanted to be different in that I was going to have content that appealed to a variety of book lovers. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those bloggers or their blogs. I envy their presence of mind to know exactly what they like and to be fabulous at what they do. But, I’ve still tried really hard not to be categorized as reading only a certain type of book, and honestly, that may be because I know I’ll never be as good at one specific genre as those that have already established their place there. Also, if I ever wanted to step out of my norm, I wanted to feel free to do so and blog about it without throwing anyone off.
That being said, I lately find that I’m much more drawn to YA/Fantasy than I am to anything else, and I get more enjoyment out of that genre as well. Roughly 65% of what I read now is YA, and almost all of that is fantasy. While my blog will always be peppered with other things, and I’m willing to give pretty much anything a shot, like many bloggers/readers, I’ve been sucked (not unwillingly) into the world of YA, and I don’t know that I’ll ever feel “too old” for it again.
How I Read
Prior to starting my blog, I NEVER read digital books. I abhorred them and viewed them as some kind of literary sacrilege. One of my very first posts was even about my distaste for electronic books. I’ve always had a Kindle, but prior to blogging, I literally hadn’t touched it in years. In fact, I could go months at a time without touching a book at all. And when I did get into a reading mood, I had to make sure I had a purse big enough to tote around a book; preferably one with a separate pocket for one said book.
Loathe as I am to admit it, I use my Kindle a lot. This affliction started with the discovery of NetGalley, and has spread like a fungus into other areas of my reading life. On occasion, before I can stop myself, I find myself scouring the latest Kindle deals for free and discounted books to add to my ever-growing digital library. I carry my kindle everywhere I go. It is my constant companion, more so maybe than even my cell phone. On the plus side of this, although I still require all my purses to have enough room/ a separate pocket for books in any form, I am reading A LOT more. Instead of going months without reading, I start to itch at around 36 hours. Because of the convenience, portability, and lack of light-dependency of my frenemy, the Kindle, I’ve gone from reading 2-3 books a week on what I used to consider a binge, to 3-4 a week on a regular basis.
My Criteria for a “Good” Book:
Before I started blogging, although I noticed other things, I didn’t think far beyond “that was a nice story” when I finished a book. I noticed if it was confusing, or if it dragged a little bit, and epilogues have always, and remain to be, a major sticking point in my enjoyment of a story. But mostly, I viewed a story as a whole, sentient being, and never did much digging below the surface.
Now, I feel like I’m constantly analyzing as I read. I highlight (on Kindle only! I’m not a monster!) a lot more, noting quotes that would be useful for a review. I also pay attention to things beyond the surface of the story such as world building (HUGE for me), vocabulary usage (#WordNerd), plot progression, and most of all, character believability. If I can’t jibe with a character or characters, it tends to taint the entire novel for me. Honestly, I think this part of why I’ve been so drawn to YA recently, and felt so mediocre towards contemporary adult fiction. YA as a whole tends to focus so much more on world building than a lot of adult literature, and there always seems to be something major going on plot-wise. Adult fiction, being for adults, often doesn’t require the building of a new world and in lacking it, doesn’t allow for the same level of escapism as YA lit. Also, let’s face it, teenagers are more angsty than adults, so a story centering around them by default contains more drama and subterfuge than most adult contemporary books.
The biggest indicator of the change in my overall opinion-making and enjoyment of books since I’ve started blogging is that by becoming so engrossed in the smallest details, I’ve shed my ability to be able to pick up a new book immediately after I’ve finished one. Part of this is because I have to chew on it and review it before starting anew, but part of it is that I stay lost in the story a lot longer. Nowadays, I usually need a good 12 hours before I can pull myself away enough to enter a new world.
So, that’s my journey thus far. What’s yours?
Book Bloggers: Have you noticed any changes in your reading since you started blogging?
Other Bloggers: What changes have you noticed in yourself since you started blogging?
Non-Bloggers: Have you noticed a change in the types of books you enjoy or how you interact with them as you’ve matured?