Books, Real Life

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Changes in My Reading Life

I’m back for Top Ten Tuesday with some wistful nostalgia.

Things aren’t the way they used to be.

I mean, obviously.

That is how time works.

Here is how my reading life has changed over the years.


It takes me longer to finish books

In high school, I would read a book a day (sometimes two.)

College kept me busy – I started finishing books in two days.

Graduating and working full-time slowed my pace considerably.

I would read on my breaks, but couldn’t bring myself to pick up a book when I got home.

Living in Seattle, I’m busier than I ever imagined.

For example: I received my copy of Call Down the Hawk on November 6th.

In years past, I would have finished that book by midnight.

This year, with write-ins and improv open mics and train rides and dinners with friends, it took me more than a week to finish.


I read less often

Netflix streaming arrived on the scene when I was in high school.

No longer did I have to catch TV shows when they aired; I could catch up on shows whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted IN MY BEDROOM.

This new freedom was almost too much to handle.

Even though I could read a book when I get home, sometimes I like to turn my brain off and watch a movie.

When I’m feeling sad, space movies (like Star Wars) are a nice distraction.

No shade on books – I just have other outlets now.


I avoid romance

For about ten years, I exclusively read romance.

I still like romance in things, but I don’t like full-on love stories as much.

I’ve written a couple times about why I think this happened.

I don’t have a perfect answer, but I know the glut of Belligerent Sexual Tension in 2000s’ media contributed.

To me, BST is such a cheap way to move a romance forward.

Too often, this trope is used in place of romantic development.

Bickering. Isn’t. Cute.


I read less contemporary fiction in general

This goes for both YA and “adult” fiction.

I don’t get much out of high school contemporaries anymore. Unless something is an “issue” novel, I tend to avoid it.

Also, I find adult contemporary tiring. It’s a lot of, “Let’s have sex and think about how awful life is,” or, “Families, am I RIGHT?”

I’d rather go on an adventure.

Give me magical worlds or give me death.

My very favorite books introduce magic into today’s world.

The characters I love schedule first dates around saving the world from untold evil.

That’s my new wheelhouse.

In other words, go read These Witches Don’t Burn immediately.


I vet the bestsellers I read

In 2012, I took all of my reading recommendations from hipster college kids and Entertainment Weekly.

EW gave Life After Life an A-minus? ON THE LIST!

EW recommended The Golem and the Jinni? ON THE LIST!

My best friend from high school liked The Martian? TOP OF THE TBR!

After reading all of the aforementioned books and hating them, I decided to only give bestsellers a try if they

a. intrigued me
b. looked like something I could finish in less than two weeks.

If you recommend a 900-page small-print monstrosity, I’m out. (This is why I haven’t picked up A Little Life yet.)

If you recommend a piece of historical fiction, I can’t help you.

If you recommend a celebrity memoir, ABSOLUTELY not.

It took me a long time to get to this point. Be proud of me.


I DNF books

I DNFed maybe a dozen books in high school, and that’s a generous count.

For years, I was determined to finish EVERY book I started with very few exceptions.

I finally started following my high school English teacher’s excellent advice: “Life is too short to read books you don’t like.”

I’d rather read a book I’m really cranked about than inch my way through a book that bores me.

Does this hold for everything in life?


I choose sci-fi over fantasy

Weird, right?

Save for Star Wars novelizations, I skipped sci-fi as a kid.

While my brothers read books like Dune and IQ 83, I stuck to The Chronicles of Narnia and the infamous The Door Within trilogy.

Now, given the option of either a Tolkien-inspired high fantasy novel or a speculative fiction novel set in space, I would choose the space book.

Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers Trilogy is on my TBR. Promise.


I can’t handle dystopia anymore

I’ll call 2008 to 2015 the prime YA dystopia years.

During that time, I read every single dystopian YA series I could find.

After reading my zillionth female-led post-apocalyptic dystopia plot, I got pretty tired of the genre and its conventions.

It felt so…overdone? Trite? Unnecessarily masculine?

I especially disliked the character type inspired by Katniss Everdeen.

I hate the idea that female characters have to be tough, physically fit, and emotionless to be “strong.”

I want to see female characters who are competent and still feel things.

(This is why I like romance subplots: show me tough or hardened characters acting soft with each other!)

My distaste for dystopian fiction has had long-lasting side effects.

Now, if a series introduces a revolution of any kind, I nope my way out of it.


I read a different kind of fantasy

I’d say my taste in fantasy falls more on the magical realism/urban fantasy side of things.

Save your elaborate fantasy worlds and elf languages.

Bring magic into the real world and keep it there.

That being said, my interest in the supernatural (particularly supernatural romance) has PLUMMETED.

I’ll skip the faeries and vampires, thank you.

A ghost or two is fine, but don’t push it.


I read nonfiction like a damn intellectual

It used to be that I only read nonfiction when forced.

On my last Powell’s trip, 5 out of 8 of the books I purchased were nonfiction.

THAT’S 62%!

I love to learn!

Reading about the history of women in punk can be as gripping as reading about fictional assassins.

Is this what it means to be an adult?

Or do reading tastes indicate nothing about intelligence, character, or maturity?

The latter, you say?

If you’ll excuse me, I have some Presbyterians to yell at.


Turn and face the strange CH-CH-CH-CHANGES.

Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.

…I don’t actually know what that means.

I predict that, in the next ten years, I’ll stop reading entirely.

Based on these unforeseen changes, it’s not out of the question.

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