One Of The Hardest Questions This Bookworm Has To Answer…

Has this ever happened to you? (It happened most recently to me this summer with this little old lady at the pool). Maybe it’s because they saw you with a book in your hand and are making small talk or maybe it’s because they’re getting to know you and they’ve just found out that you like to read. “Oh! You are a reader!” And then they ask the loaded question for me…

So, what do you like to read?


Now, at a glance, this seems like a fairly simple question. Something I don’t even need to think about. But it’s me and it’s books and I get way too overexcited.

HOW CAN I EVEN ANSWER THIS QUESTION BEING THE PERSON THAT I AM? I want to ask, “Do you want the short version or the long version? Because really this could take a while.”

Short version:


And I realize how unhelpful and not conducive this is to continuing this conversation you were trying to have. But I’m not a devotee to one genre so I can give a sweeping answer like, “Oh I read mostly mysteries” or “I’m really into biographies.” I just can’t. I read A LOT of things. For real, genres mean nothing to me. I just read what I want to read.

And sure I could probably rattle off that I love to read all sorts of YA fiction — contemporary, historical fiction, dystopian, fantasy, science fiction, etc. and all sorts of adult fiction — literary, contemporary, women’s fiction, romance, mysteries, historical fiction and that I also love to read non-fiction at times. I COULD. But I feel like nobody wants to HEAR all that.

And even if I listed all that I don’t think I’d feel satisfied and that I really answered the question or represented myself well in it. There’s all sorts of other elements that are essential to understanding what I like to read. For example:

I like to read books that make me cry. That wreck me bad.
I like to read books that are super imaginative and transport me to new worlds.
I like to read books that make me think. The ones that make me dog-ear all the thought provoking parts until I realize that’s like every other page.
I like to read books with characters that jump off the pages. Some that I can relate to and others that I might not be able to relate to but can understand.
I like to read books that make me mad. Make me feel emotions intensely.
I like to read books with swoony romances and kissing. And those can all look different to me.
I like to read funny books with prose so snappy and witty that I can’t help up LOL.
I like to read books that make me want to reread them immediately after.
I like to read books that mess with my mind.
I like to read books that make me never want to read another book ever again because I want to go to the grave with that book being the last book ever that I read. End on a strong note.
I like to read books that change my life.
I like to read books that make me FEEL THINGS.
I like to read books that challenge me.
I like to read books that entertain me.

I know what you are thinking….

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Seriously, the way my brain over complicates everything it is!

And, besides the fact that it takes too damn long to answer that question, there’s always a little part of me that is nervous to answer that for fear of judgment. I am loud and proud about what I read and stuff but reading is SUCH a personal, wonderful thing that I don’t need any negative nellies to give me THAT look and say, “Oh like Twilight?” when I tell them that I read YA — in addition to other books. GROWN UP BOOKS EVEN. *Gasp* I hate that look and it makes me want to punt them.

Maybe I’ll just start to direct people to this post when they ask what I like to read. Or maybe I just shouldn’t be so damn complicated all the time and develop and easy yet satisfying answer. Or maybe I’ll just keep saying, “EVERYTHING”ย  or “a little of this or a little of that” to the people who ask me and if they really care to know they will explore a little further.

But seriously, is this question a simple one for other bookworms or do you feel just as stressed about answering it as I do? What’s your answer typically? Are there any other bookish questions that stress you out to answer? I have another doozy of a bookish question coming up in a couple weeks! This one might be the actual worst.

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Yes, this a thousand times. I have VERY eclectic tastes in books. It’s often shorter & easier to say what I don’t like to read. In the past I’ve gone to my old standby mysteries for the answer. But after having just about 7 months of book blogging under my belt I would find this answer very incorrect. I read a LOT more YA Contemporaries than I used to. Plus dystopian, SciFi,NA, thrillers and of course my old standby, mystery among other genres.

    Another question I get is What makes a book a favorite for you? And for me, that one is simple. The all important feels. If I go through a range of emotions while I’m reading, chances are good that I’ll love the book and that it will be a favorite.

  2. Everything is a fabulous answer. I love the list of what you like. I also like books that make me feel intense and captivating emotions and have passages I will forever remember and analyze without trying, among many more items on your list. I usually say I prefer contemporary mysteries because thats my favorite genre or I prefer boos base on gripping writing and character connection. Still, it is never the full truth. Being, I like to read anything that strikes my fancy.

  3. Ooooh this! That really is a tough question. I’d probably be tempted to just say fantasy, since it’s probably my favourite genre, but I get where you’re coming from. Generalising and narrowing down that much is difficult, and loses all the nuances (as you kindly listed) that we look for in books.

    My most loathed question would be, who’s your favourite author, or what’s your favourite book? They are much harder, because I have so many favourites, but I hate ‘ranking’ them and trying to pinpoint the ‘best’. I like them all!

  4. This is why I don’t talk to strangers! My answer would be something along the lines of “Uhh…everything.” Actually, I’m fairly certain I used this answer at my summer job.

    It’s just hard!

  5. I usually just say…well, today I like to read (insert current book) but that’ll change when I finish it!

    Seriously, it’s a tough question.

  6. “Punt them.” Hahaha I love it. But I totally agree with you! I usually just say literary fiction, but then people just give me a blank stare. So sometimes I say lots of different stuff, but I really like historical fiction and Jodi Picoult. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I can definitely relate since a read a little of every genre – although fantasy is probably my go to! I usually just rattle off a few of the books I read recently.

  8. It’s like a little Ode to Books poem! As a mood reader, this list certainly gets extensive for me, too. I want to read ALL THE BOOKS! (Except for the bad ones. Let’s just say no to those.)

  9. Trust me, you’re not alone. I get asked this question CONSTANTLY – at work (I’m a bookseller), when people discover I have a blog, when someone sees me with a book in my hands. There’s that moment when I freeze up and have no idea what to say! I am EXTREMELY open-minded when it comes to reading: MG/YA, Adult, Non-fiction, and every sub-genre in-between are represented on my shelves and have found a special place in my heart. I love the classics, but I also love fluffy beach reads.

    It would be so simple to say “oh I read everything,” but to me that’s kind of a cop-out answer. Anything more specific, however, would take AGES to explain. Instead I tend to talk about a few of the books I recently enjoyed (particularly if I’m dealing with customers!). If a person is truly curious/interested, they’ll have me elaborate – and you can bet I take full advantage of that!

  10. Oh, I hate being asked this question! Because you’re right, I read literally anything and everything. I will try every book at least once. A look at my bookshelf demonstrates that. Maybe I need to just start carrying a picture of it around with me everywhere, so when people ask, I can just point and say, “That. I read that.” LOL!

  11. I dread when people ask me that question. It’s not because I don’t know the answer but because of what I want to say. If I list a few genres, it is too simple and doesn’t really tell the whole story. If I start listing too many genres people tend to look at me weird (“is she done yet” look). I tend to do the same as you and over complicate everything. I wish I could just say that I like romance or YA, but those are only two of a HUGE list!

    Maybe I should start a trend of people asking, ” What don’t you read?” I think that would make it easier to answer than “What do you like to read”? I wonder if that will make it a bit easier? ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Ahhhh I know exactly what you mean! When people ask me, I take a deep breath and feel like I need to start monologuing to highlight every single genre and give them each the attention they deserve AND justify my answers. But no one wants to hear that..

    So I mostly just end up saying something like:

    “Mostly young adult fiction, but some adult books too!”

    But I always feel so unsatisfied with that answer. It usually satisfies whoever is asking, but I’m screaming on the inside, “I WANT TO TELL YOU MORE!!!!” I literally have to sit there clenching my teeth to keep from monologuing.

  13. I hate that question too, mostly because I tend to get judgy eyes if I mention horrible words like YA or Romance or Fantasy. Thing is, though I prefer specific genres, I’ll read anything if it sounds good. I won’t not read a book because it isn’t a genre I normally like.

  14. I agree with this completely. I feel like I answer this question differently every single time I’m asked because I just don’t have a good answer. Sometimes I answer “everything,” but I feel like that’s not a very good answer. Sometimes I just say fantasy because if I HAD to choose a favorite genre that would be it, but I don’t want to choose a favorite genre, and that really doesn’t tell people what all I read anyway. Plus, when I answer with everything, I feel as if people don’t believe me. They’re kind of like “yeah, right. You have to prefer something.” But honestly, I’m the person who tried to read the dictionary at the age of ten because I read everything else in the house and couldn’t go to the library. I really do read just about everything.

  15. Your Benedict Cumberbatch meme basically sums up my feelings on the subject too. I feel it is easier for me to say what I DON’T read. But even that isn’t set in stone. If a book gets good reviews, then it won’t matter the genre for me.

  16. Big Bang Theory GIFs for the win!

  17. I hate answering this question. It is so difficult to put into words what I like to read. I normally end up just listing my go-to genres (YA dystopian and fantasy) but there’s so much more that I love. Like historical fiction! And Scifi! And maybe even contemporary (just dipping my toes back into the genre after a looong break). This is just not a practical question for book lovers like us to answer. Btw, love the Benedict Cumberbatch gif. He’s sexy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. OMG, the judgy eyes when you say YA. I’ve just learned to ignore them.

    This is my standard answer: “I read mostly YA lit (see what I did there?), but I really enjoy adult fiction, kids’ books…who’s your favourite author?”

    Because most people who ask just want to make conversation, so if I punt it back to them, then I make the connection by saying, “Oh, I’ve read him/her and you should check this out!” or “I didn’t love that, but I’ve heard this is really great” or “OMG, wasn’t XXXName of BookXXX the best?”

    Basically, I avoid the question by stating my obvious faves, and then getting other people to tell me what they like. This, I think, is the best answer. If I get judgy eyes on the YA, then I get to tell people what they should read to try out the YA genre…

  19. Yessssss! My SIL (who is an aspiring author, and loves to read–hello?!) just asked me that recently. I felt like a huge dummy, stammering and trying to come up with an answer. I ended up saying “Uh, mostly YA,” but that wasn’t exactly true, and then I was all disgruntled with my answer. I feel like it’s one of those questions that’s totally pointless, anyway, because do people even CARE how you answer? Bleh!

  20. Amen!

  21. Oh geeze. I hate that question and it almost always comes from my in-laws. haha Every time they visit there are MORE BOOKS. My father-in-law will ask “So, reading anything good??” as he browses my shelves and starts the dreaded touching of my books! I never know how to respond. I don’t have a short answer… so I usually just go with… “oh you know… some action, some romance..” ๐Ÿ™‚ My mother-in-law will say “You don’t read that erotica garbage do you? My sister reads that stuff and tells me about how hot and bothered she gets. How gross!” Uhhh… awkward. That is always fun to respond to because I certainly don’t want to say… “I don’t like erotica, but boy do I ever love some hot sexual tension, especially Katie McGarry style!” LOL The worst though is when I feel like I have to explain why I read YA to other people. Most people just don’t get it and then I wonder why I even bother trying to explain. I need to come up with a generic response that would in all possible situations. When I can’t be bothered I just talk about the non-fiction books I read.

  22. This is AWESOME! This question is right up there with “What’s your one favourite book of all time?” or “If there was just ONE book that you think I should read, what would it be?” DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE!!!!!!

    Your answers to the question are absolutely beautiful. If my little guy wasn’t napping, I would have shouted out “Yes!” to each and every one. Because I feel the same.

  23. That’s like the most dreaded question on earth for a book lover, I think. Not just because it’s tough to answer, especially when you’re not committed to a certain genre. But because you love books so much you just want to talk about all that you love them – the good, the bad, the ugly. And then you realize that the person asking may really not want to sit and listen to you talk for hours about what you like to read. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. Whenever I get introduced to someone new, the person making the introductions often mentions that I love to read. This usually ends up being followed by the question you posed above, which is why I could SO relate to this post! My default answer is usually, “I’m willing to try reading just about any genre, but I really liked reading young adult books and romance.” From there, I’m always happy to delve into further explanations and give recommendations based on how receptive the other person (the new party, the one I’m being introduced to) is. But as you’ve made so clear in this post, it really is hard to explain it to someone else!

  25. For real, genres mean nothing to me. I just read what I want to read. <– THIS.

    I love your things you like to read list, again with the yes. Basically, I love your thoughts. This whole post has just been me nodding, occasionally saying yes aloud and at one point yelling PREACH (because I get carried away sometimes) It must be amazing inside your head.

    I hate the 'oh, you read YA?' reaction. It's so patronizing and obnoxious. Just because they're books about teenagers doesn't mean it can't be just as moving and/or deep as adult fiction. Sometimes I think it's more so because being a teenager is such an intense experience compared to adulthood.

    Anyway, SO MUCH YES. Slightly off topic but still related, someone asked me what my favorite book was today and after staring for an uncomfortably long time I responded "That's an impossible question to answer."

  26. I’m that really annoying person that when asked what I liked to read, I say, “books.” Hahaha. But seriously, that is what I say. And then they’ll give me that “stop being a smart-ass” look and I’ll tell them whatever I’m into at the moment. I usually say contemporary YA because that’s what I’m always into. I do hate that stupid patronizing look people give me when I say that, and I always feel the need to explain myself (though I rarely do). I used to care so much what other people think about what I read, but I don’t really anymore because it’s not worth my time or energy.

  27. Ahhhh your Penny gif! ๐Ÿ™‚ But yes, this question stresses me out too. I’ve stuck with “mostly science fiction and mystery and, you know, other stuff” for the last few years – otherwise, I’m afraid people will get overwhelmed! Other genres and categories require too much explanation, and I doubt people who ask me that question actually want the nitty-gritty details of my reading habits. I love your list of the kind of books you like! I would totally reply with lines like those if someone asks me about what I like to read in the future, haha.

  28. EVERYTHING. You know this is silly but I talk so easily about books with the blogging community but IRL when someone asks me what I’m reading / what I like to read I do get all flustered trying to pin down a response. Go figure! I’m glad I’m not the only one, because like you, I read so many, many things.

  29. It is not a question I like. I feel my favorite book genre changes from day to day and so do the answer on this question. I also have family members who ask this question to me since I’m one of the few in the family who loves to read books. I hate it. Every single time anyone ask this question. I DON`T KNOW!!!!!!!! I just feel frustrated by thinking about it. Do not ask me that question. Please!

  30. This post is wonderful! Non-bookish people just don’t understand how devastating a question “What do you like to read/What’s your favorite book?” is. It’s crippling. Because there just isn’t an easy answer! I don’t see genre either, and it seems to complicated to try to explain just why I like to read the various things that I do, because honestly, those things don’t matter. It’s the characters, the thoughts, the emotions that make me fall in love with a book.

  31. Yes, yes, YES. Is this because part of me is still ashamed to admit to others I mainly read YA fiction? I don’t know. I generally come out with a stuttery dystopian/contemporary/thriller type line. Or just say fiction? Perhaps a future answer should just be ALL THE GOOD ONES.

  32. My answer is the same as yours, but I don’t really stress out about it. I usually just say “everything but erotica or religious books” which pretty much covers it for me ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. I try to find out what the other person likes to read, and we can talk about that. Yes, I can tell the other person about all the ridiculous sweep of books I read but he doesn’t care. If I can relate to him, however, and talk about the war fiction I’ve read, or Moneyball or Game of Thrones or WHATEVER then the conversation can go somewhere

  34. Hmm this one is surprisingly easy for me to answer! My preference is young adult all the way. My favorite sub-genre for young adult are contemporary and science fiction. I’m not really a fantasy or paranormal fan. I think it’s because they kind of have the same plot. It has to be incredible in order for me to love a fantasy or paranormal book.

  35. I always find this a tough one to answer! I do love to read everything from the trashy to the classics but no one ever asks me what I’m reading when I’m reading a classic. It only ever seems to be when I’m reading a trashy one and then they judge me on that and get a really dismissive look on their face! If the question is a more general, what type of things do you like to read, I’ll usually try to give a selection of books I’ve read that show the wide range of stuff I’ll read.

  36. Ha…laughed out loud at Starbucks at that second gif. I am a huge chick lit fan so I don’t have the stress that accompanies that question. I sometimes find myself not wanting to admit that I read YA sometimes because it really is all about Twilight in most people’s heads (or Hunger Games). While I’ve read and enjoyed those titles, I (and other big readers) know there’s more out there than those titles. But, when I mention I like chick lit I almost always have to go on the defensive. ANNOYING. It’s more than pink covers and fancy shoes, people! *breathes* ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Haha, yes! I used to HATE this question. By now, I’ve been asked this question so many times that I’ve gotten my answer down to a simple, “Mostly romance and young adult, but I really read just about everything besides horror.”

  38. Jenn @ Lost in a Great Book says:

    Oh how I hate that question tooโ€ฆ it’s right up there with the other book question, “So what’s your favourite book?”!!!
    Generally speaking, I tend to give the same answer as you – “everything”. I will sometimes preface it by explaining that I read to review for a number of publishers and that I work in a bookstore. If people ask me about the kind of genre that I read, I explain that it’s a lot like music and that my taste is pretty diverse.
    Like you, I get just as irritated with the people who mock others who have read YA or 50 shades of Grey – I usually smile through gritted teeth that there are fans for everything, just like in music, and that no one type of book is better or worse than another. Gah! I need a snappy comeback!

  39. This is right up there with what’s your favourite book! Depending on who the person is/how much time we have and how interested they appear as I ramble I either go with the general- well I like to try a bit of everything-except 50 Shades of Gray! If they look more interested or I know they are a book person I’ll say that I love YA, things with dynamic female characters, fantasy, fiction, historical fiction…and I continue until they start to yawn and nod off!

  40. I find it so hard to answer this question too. Even if I say YA fiction (which isn’t necessarily true as I still like to read adult books) there’s still the question of historical fiction or contemporary fiction, dytopian worlds or fantasy worlds etc. This year alone I still can’t pinpoint which genre I’ve read the most, as it’s ranged from Marcus Zusak’s the Book Thief to Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast to Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy, so I feel your pain and hesitation when trying to answer this question.

  41. I feel like most of the time when I’m asked this question i just stand there, silently, staring awkwardly, while i try to come up with an answer. I feel like another reason you can’t just say YA is a lot of people dont even know what that is! For me this question is only slightly better than the question – what kind of music do you like?

  42. My simple answer is just ‘fiction’, but most of the time I purposefully say every single thing I like to read just to see the expressions on their faces. They did ask! Most people who ask me don’t know what half of the genres I read are, so it’s nice to educate, too. I love your list of everything you like reading and the fact that it doesn’t fit nicely into one or two genres. Tell them the long answer and let them know who you are and what you’re passionate about. If they don’t like it, they should never have asked in the first place. harsh, but true.


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