To Continue On Or Not?

That is always my question after finishing a book in a series: am I interested enough to continue on? 

It’s a hard question all around. I’m awful at finishing series in general and I’m the woooorst at deciding whether or not to put down a book when I’m not liking it. I have a list of reasons why it’s so hard for me — some of those feelings apply to my fear of abandoning a series.

Most of the time I’m pretty solid on my YES or NO if I want to continue on but I do have a good chunk that stay in that “Hmmm I’m not sure” area. However, what prompted me to think about this, is that over the summer I read but nearly DNFed a book 1 in a series that I just really didn’t like and was pretty sure I had no interest of continuing on. I didn’t think the writing was that great. It was pretty eye-rolly. Didn’t love the characters. But THEN..behold…book 2 shows up in the mail from the publisher and my curiosity was piqued again and I have NO idea why. I didn’t even like it! WHY would I even consider it? Maybe it’s because I’m curious. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. Or maybe it’s because I am the most indecisive person who likes to doubt their decisions. Oof we sure are getting a little more into the psyche of Jamie territory there.

But here we are…a book that was solidly a NO is now possibly a maybe? GAH.

 

Typically my method looks a little bit like this if it’s a first book:

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10 Things I Wish Someone Would Invent

Sometimes I have these times in my life where I’m like GOD I WISH THIS THING EXISTED TO MAKE MY LIFE EASIER OR BETTER. Sometimes I find out that it’s like, in fact, a THING made by those As Seen On TV people and sometimes it just stays a great idea in my head because an inventor I am not.

There are quite a few things over the course of my reading life that I wished existed so if anyone wants to put their inventor hat on or like find a magical way to do these things I will be your first customer.

 

1. A device that helps you unsee spoilers: Y’all know that blatant spoilers are the bane of my existence but SERIOUSLY this would be perfect for those times that you are minding your own business on the internet and your eye hones in on a big fat spoiler for something you love on Twitter or Tumblr or in the comments section. You just hit the button and BOOM never saw that shit. Related: a device that shocks people when they are assholes about spoilers? Too cruel?

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A Readerly Woe

I’ve talked a lot about how I suck at series! I’ve got some ideas why — getting distracted by other books during the wait between books, being afraid to move on, loss of interest over time — and it’s so sad because I LOVE a good book series. I even tried Operation Make Jamie Suck Less At Series and this year one of my bookish resolutions is designed to help me with this. I just want to be better at reading series and not leaving so many loose ends.

A thing happened to me recently….and I wonder if this is some of my hesitation when moving on with series….sub-consciously.

So I recently picked up a book 2 of a book I LOVED last year and that had just released this Fall (I barely read this Fall because of adopting Finn so I never got to it). Like suuuuuper loved. I was obsessed with the world and the characters and soooo emotionally invested. I couldn’t believe I had to wait for a book 2. I mean, I am on the HIGHEST of book highs upon finishing this book.

So I crack open the book all ready to be wholly immersed in this series again and just pick up where we left off……and I felt nothing.

I mean, sure, I was having a case of book amnesia as I always do (which reminds me…I have a post related to that that has been sitting in drafts for a bit and should publish that). But I read a summary and some spoilers about what happened thinking that might help. But it didn’t. I just did not feel those same feels heading into this book. I mean, it took place like pretty much right after the explosive ending of the first book so I should have been right back in there.

But there I was….feeling not much at all. I’m like OKAY OKAY you will get back into this, and I did, but it took a while…like 20-30% of the way in to finally feel those feels and that connection to the story and characters again. And I mean PRAISE KANYE that I ended the book again on the highest of book highs because it got even more amazing.

And I kept wondering….is it the book? Is it just not up to par? Or is it that year in between that just wedged itself in between book 1 and book 2 and slowly siphoned my excitement level and connection.

It doesn’t always happen to me. I can think distinctly of a few series that a year later (ummm Queen of Shadows!!) and I’m right back in the game. Maybe some of those are different? Maybe I talked about them and discussed them more with people throughout that year? Maybe it’s because some of them weren’t book 2’s but further into a series or a conclusion? I don’t know.

All I know is I think that is why sometimes I dread picking up the next book in a series when it’s been a while in between books. I know there is a chance that all that head-over-heels-in-love-with-this-series mega fangirl love and excitement has faded away a little bit with time. I’ve read 100 books since then. I’ve fallen hard for new books and characters. I’ve forgotten the details that made me fall in love. I can’t feel the pain or the exhilaration or the joy the book gave me with the same FEELING.

And it’s SAD. It makes me want to just wait til more books are out so I can binge read/semi-binge read but I also really like supporting the books when they come out and also it’s fun to read when a lot of other people are. In an ideal world, I would love to always be able to reread a series book before I moved on so I could at least come close to replicating those feelings and be super ready to dive into book 2 and rid myself of any of this disconnect (that isn’t the fault of the book itself).

But alas…I am a mere mortal.

Anyways, there is no real point to this post other than 1) I wanted to share how sad it was to have such a hard time being plugged back into this great story I loved and 2) I figured out yet another reason why I suck at series….despite loving being invested in a series.

 

Does this happen to anybody else??? Or is it just JAMIE PROBLEMS — table for 1?

 

PS. Some of my other readerly woes — the logistics of reading heavy books and all 10 of these bookworm problems

Thoughts On Taking A Year Off From A Numbers Based (Goodreads) Reading Challenge

Last year at around this time I got ready to set the number for the yearly Goodreads reading challenge and I changed my mind about how I would approach reading in 2015. I decided I would not be setting a number goal for 2015.

I’ve been on Goodreads since 2008 and I’ve been doing the Goodreads reading challenges for however long they’ve been doing it. It was SO weird for me to not set one but I felt I just wanted to try something new. I kept toying with doing OTHER (non-numbers based) challenges but ended up being completely challenge-less for the year.

This was a little bit of my rationale from that post:

“Even though my Goodreads reading challenge is not the end-all-be-all of my life by any means, it still is this presence breathing down my neck. It’s everywhere. I mean, most years I’m 30 books behind and not caring so it’s not like it really IMPACTS me or that I take it SO seriously. But it’s always there (especially when I think about picking up a chunky book or a book I know will be a slower read aka non-fiction or super literary adult fiction). Even though any pressure with it is mostly self-imposed even for someone who approaches it very low key, there is still a degree of pressure just by even logging into Goodreads and KNOWING that damn widget is going to let me know where I stand. (Mostly, it’s always YOU ARE BEHIND!)”

 

So I stand here..a year-ish later with some thoughts and observations:

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I Value My Time

Since the beginning of my reading life I’ve always struggled to put down books I’m not digging (do the youth still say this? I just turned 30 so I’m having this irrational panic that I’m suddenly out of touch). When I came into the book blogging world I quickly found that there were people who could so easily declare they were putting down books they weren’t into without even a second though (namely my bff Anna). I always WANTED to be so ruthless with putting down books I’m not enjoying but I guess it’s just not my personality.

Since blogging, I’ve gotten BETTER at it. I say better, as in, I’ll do it in those times when it feels likes wrestling an alligator just to get me to sit down with the book. But I still have some ways to improve…

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Last year I wrote about 8 reasons I struggle to put books down. Reason #2 on the list was that I’ve invested too much time in it. If I’m honest I think this is my BIGGEST struggle out of the eight — even more than just being nosy about the ending.

It’s a time issue for both types of readers — those ruthless book quitters and those who have a harder time.

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People who are big champions of putting down books they aren’t liking/aren’t into say things like “life is too short to read books you don’t like.” I myself have repeated this mantra over and over in my head when I’m trying to decide whether or not to mark a book as DNF (did not finish, for those unfamiliar with the lingo of the bookish interwebs).

But for the part of me that struggles to put down books? It’s also a time thing. Like okay I spent an hour (or whatever time amount) of my life reading this book. If I give up, then I feel as though that hour was a complete WASTE of an hour because I didn’t complete the story and I was just reading for no good reason.

 

So then I have this very hard choice at hand! (And I’m like the Queen of Indecision and Avoidance). To figure out what is the bigger waste of time

  1. Reading 1 hour of book and putting it down — and now I’m free to read something I might enjoy more but I’m out that hour with nothing to show for it. 
  2. Or spending 3 hours on a book that I didn’t like — I finished it (so yay I completed something) but I HAD TO FORCE MY WAY THROUGH IT or didn’t like it or whatever the problem was that made me considering putting it down. 

And then there’s all the other questions that swirl through my head: Do I see it as a waste of time by having read and interacted with a book even if it was torture making it through it? Will I be annoyed if I don’t find out what happens if I put it down? Can I ask someone what happens if I put it down? Is the value in giving up that hour worth not slogging through more of it? Should I persevere through books when they require more attention or are “harder” to read (ie classics)? Is reading a book for an hour and not finishing it any more of a waste of time than I do mindlessly surfing the interwebs? AM I OKAY WITH THIS LOSS OF AN HOUR?

I don’t really have any foolproof ways for knowing for calculating the value of my time — whether I’ll be happy I put it down or that it’s a better use of my time to slog through.

Sometimes I feel a THANK GOD I STOPPED READING THAT I WAS GOING TO THROTTLE MYSELF WITH MY SHOELACE IF I READ ONE PAGE MORE but other times I don’t feel strongly one way or another. I mean, sometimes I finish a book I wasn’t digging and it’s like “eh well. That was that.” And then there’s those few times it’s like OMG WHY DID I FINISH THAT STAB STAB STAB. It’s a toss-up most of the time! Then just as rare –– the times I LOVED it after slogging through.

I just know that I value my time and I want to make the best use of it — especially that every so precious reading time!

 

I’m more so really curious if this is something that anyone else struggles with! Do you DNF with ease or do you struggle like I do? HOW do you decide what is the better use of your time? Please tell me your thoughts on this!! Maybe your rationale will help me!!

What Is My Problem Lately?

In my last If We Were Having Coffee post I commented on how I’m finding it harder for me to find new FAVORITE books and movies.

The thing is, I’m consuming lots of things that I LIKE and even super LOVE but I’m having a hard time finding those life changing things that just stop you in your tracks and just speak to every cell in your entire body and you don’t know how you possibly lived life without having experienced it before. Those books that I easily declare THIS IS A NEW FAVORITE. I’m reading so many books I’m soooo passionate about and love but somehow, over the years, fewer and fewer are being declared favorites. I’m finding it so hard to be BLOWN AWAY.

I don’t know what the root of it is.

Is it just that I’m not picking those types of book?

It could be as simple as that. I’m just not picking up those books that would be favorites. Maybe I keep bypassing them for other things. My hand choosing the book NEXT to it on the shelf. It could be. I mean, I’m sure those books are THERE but maybe I’m not picking them up.

Am I just harder to impress because I read so much?

I read a lot. I consume a lot of entertainment. Maybe because of that I’m just harder to impress these days? It’s not even like I’m this picky reader…I know what I like and I’m not overly critical. I just feel like I’m like I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK but it didn’t quite take me to the level of THOSE kinds of books. I feel like when I wasn’t reading as much I was more easily impressed because I wasn’t as well-read. Maybe things are just blending altogether and things feel the same because I’m not giving books the space and the time and, even though I read a decent amount of backlist, I’m always reading the new releases and there are clear TRENDS that happen each year. Maybe I’m reading too much that is similar and it’s not impressing me? I DO NOT KNOW. Maybe my standards ARE higher to make me FEEL THAT KIND OF FEELING?

Maybe it’s blogging?

Sometimes I wonder if it’s the fact that I’m constantly ~dissecting~ everything I read. I say dissecting loosely because clearly on this site I’m not into the critical analysis as it is not my gift in life. I just like talking about the books I read and interacting with them (this isn’t to say I’m NOT critical…my aim just isn’t to dissect or write a huge literary analysis of what I’m reading). BUT, even with that, I’m forced to think about the whys and why nots of my feelings on the book and a lot of times I’m doing so WHILE I’m reading. It’s this subconscious thing that I’ve noticed over the past 5 years of blogging but I definitely do it while I’m reading. Already formulating my thoughts for a book talk or thinking about how I’ll blog about it. OR dreading blogging about it. NGL that happens. Maybe I’m not letting myself truly enjoy books because it’s all tied into blogging. I DON’T KNOW.

Is it that I’m just becoming stingy about handing out my 5 stars/my favorites?

What I mean is that maybe I *HAVE* had those experiences but when I look over my reading year I’m not accounting for those because I’m SO stingy about rating giving my highest ratings. I feel like this is kind of a blogging thing too — I think blogging over these past 5 years has made me stingier. I’ve talked before about how sometimes blogging makes me feel self-conscious when it comes to liking too many books or being seen as “too positive”. It’s a thing that I’m constantly reminding myself over the years because I know that my thoughts are genuinely what I think and it really doesn’t matter what other people think. And really…it’s so silly I have to worry about liking too many books.

Maybe it’s just that I’m hyping up too much the idea of FAVORITES or THOSE LIFE CHANGING BOOKS and that is what is ruining it for me?

Maybe I’m just hyping it all up too much. Maybe I’m too focused on finding THE ONE — that perfect life-shattering book. Maybe I’ve been reading them but, because I’ve hyped up the IDEA of what this kind of book looks like, I haven’t recognized it as such.

Or maybe I’m just completing overthinking it all?

Yep. Probably that is it.

I just have had this nagging feeling about the lack of books that have become faves/5 stars/THAT SPECIAL KIND OF BOOK. It’s possible that this is normal. That maybe not that many books ARE supposed to be that type of book….that’s what makes books special or favorites. But I’ve noticed a definite decline in books that are impressing me to to the highest level or that I’m declaring ALL TIME FAVES and I just don’t know why.

WOMP WOMP. This post was more for me than for anybody else. Trying to sort out my brain. It’s not that I’m disappointed with my reading year (I’ve had a GREAT reading year) but I’m CRAVING that kind of read!

 

Has anyone else felt like this? PLEASE RECOMMEND ME YOUR LAST FAVORITE BOOK??

Perception, Reality & Our Super Reader Community

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I was on Twitter the other day and I saw a conversation, not at all a bad one, and there was just a random comment along the lines of “oh yeah that author is so popular and probably doesn’t really need the buzz like others do.” Totally understand the sentiment of wanting to support the authors that might not get as much buzz or that might be debut authors or under the radar! TOTALLY. I love doing that and do it all the time. SO MUCH. That’s not at all the point of this post.

What this comment made me think about is perception vs. reality. They aren’t always aligned. I knew this statement that was made about this author wasn’t necessarily fact as I know the author and know a little bit about their publishing journey. They are totally ~popular~ within our circles but outside of it they just aren’t as well known/have struggled. But I could see how this person who made the statement could think this given what they see online and in this particular community of ours! I really could! Especially in relation to how well loved they are IN our community. And I think this sort of thing happens a lot  — these innocent misperceptions based on what we see online vs the actual reality. (Especially since as readers, pre-social media, I don’t think we really HAD much of a look into ANY of this).

I think in our book blogging community, which is comprised of super readers and people who are really IN the KNOW when it comes to all things books, it doesn’t always reflect the reality of how a book does on a grand scale or how popular an author actually is. I know authors who are super popular in the book blogging world and I don’t think they’ve quite reached that level outside. It’s been jarring to me to think in my head how super popular and hyped a book is in this community and then talk outside of our community and realize it’s not as big at all. Or how I can talk to a librarian about a super popular book I see embraced by our community and they tell me it doesn’t move off the shelf ever. I’m like “WAIT NOT EVERYONE HAS HEARD ABOUT THIS AND AREN’T CLAMORING TO GET THIS ONE COPY?”

It’s so interesting to me sometimes how our reality in our community doesn’t always accurately reflect sales numbers or popularity out there in the world. Sometimes it makes me really sad. I’m like “LOOK. WE ALL LOVE THIS. WHY CAN’T THE WORLD?” And sometimes our reality totally align with the rest of the book world and, hey, maybe we even helped champion it. I wonder if it’s just that sometimes, despite how big our community feels and has gotten, it still is just a small sampling but we are passionate and loud and we see what feels like a lot of people talking about and reading certain books. It looks popular to us. We are just in this community where everything is amplified because we are so saturated with conversations about all sorts of books that it kind of skews our perception a bit. It’s a little bit like an echo chamber but not like in a negative sense. (Does that make sense? Maybe I’m looking for another metaphor?).

The other thing it made me think of, regarding perception and reality, is of authors themselves. I know that before I joined this community I automatically thought published author = successful and rich and being an author is their only job. That’s true sometimes but I know a whole lot of authors who have other jobs and being an author isn’t the only thing they do at all. There have been authors who have shared about the realities of being a mid-list authors and it definitely was one of the things that opened up my eyes to how off perception vs. reality can be.

I don’t really have a point to this post. Just a whole lot of musings on something that’s kind of fascinating to me. But I think, in thinking about this, it has just reinforced how super important it is to leave reviews for books I like and love on sites that might reach the non-book bloggers and people who aren’t saturated in this world like we are — Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble because every little bit counts and we are already championing these books so why not make sure our love for the book is heard outside of our community? (not saying you are awful if you don’t…god knows I am SO behind in cross-posting reviews).

It makes me want to think about what other avenues I can spread the word and how I can use my platform BETTER to help further champion the books I love. How can I better be a resource to people like teachers and librarians who are reaching people that I might not? We do an amazing thing by creating buzz and talking about these books and writing reviews but I’m asking myself how I can do better with just even a little more effort on my part personally to reach beyond this community.

Thoughts on this? Even if you don’t agree with me or think I’m totally wrong, I’d love to hear them! How can we reach beyond our community to make a difference for books we love?

Status: Overwhelmed & Fatigued

Lately I have been quieter on the internet than I normally am. True, some of it is because of summer time fun and travel. Some because of aspirations to ~disconnect~  a little more and ~be more present~ in my life. But honestly? I just feel plain overwhelmed and fatigued.

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I mean, when I open my computer and descend on the internet it’s like being a kid in one of those huge candy stores with a billion options. HOW CAN ONE EVEN CHOOSE WHERE TO START OR WHAT MAKES THE CUT TO FIT IN YOUR MOM-APPROVED PORTION OF A BAG??

It’s like: okay, let’s check my email. DEAR GOD NO WHY. Twitter instead. Okay I should do some blogging stuff — write posts, try to respond to comments, clean out that spam, etc. Ah okay I’ll try to read some blogs. OMG WHY DO I SUBSCRIBE TO SO MANY BLOGS? WHICH ONES TO CHOOOOSE? Hehe funny animal video. Omg miltary brother surprising his little brother SOB. Okay back to my email. OOH THIS LOOKS LIKE A GOOD EMAIL. Newsletters, newsletters, newsletters. I AM SO INSPIRED. I AM GOING TO LIVE MY LIFE BETTER. Gets on Twitter. Hour of passive scrolling happens. Okay I’d really like to: find some new music, listen to podcasts, catch up on what is going on in the world, find some new recipes for this week, HAIR TUTORIALS BECAUSE I AM THE WORST, oooh I want to learn things, should I film a video?, ehhh hey Facebook why do I even still have you, OOH LET’S START A NEW BLOG, ugh I really need to respond to these emails like a grown a$$ adult, google “how to not get overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities of the internet” *shuts computer, cries and swears off the internet for forever*

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I’m just overwhelmed. There are so many things to consume…and that I WANT TO CONSUME. So many things out there I don’t even KNOW I want to consume (internet clicking and spirals YO). I want to read all the blogs that interest me and spread the comment love. I want to know what’s up in the world. I want to be entertained. I want to chat with all the people I think are cool on the internet and be present on Twitter. I want to learn. I want to be inspired. And that’s not even like the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things that I want to do outside of the internet — read all the books, watch all the tv/movies, do all the fun life things. A PART OF ME WANTS TO DO IT ALL. A PART OF ME, THE ONE CONSOLING THE PART WHO WANTS TO DO IT ALL AND IS OVERWHELMED, RECOGNIZES I CAN’T DO IT ALL.

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I’m just so overwhelmed by all my options. I mean, hey, I get I’m super lucky to have all this at my disposal and that this is even a problem for me. But right now I just feel so overwhelmed and also a bit fatigued from all the noise & opinions and the constant barrage of things I’m being inundated with.

I’m trying to create better habits for myself for consuming the internet. But it’s so hard to curate. I’m trying to figure out what things are most important and worthy of my time. I’m trying to not feel bad or guilty when I can’t do it all and support all the things or when I’m feeling behind. BUT I WANT TO LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS ON THE INTERNET. But I also want to know my limits and the signs that tell me I need to step back because of fatigue.

Soooo I have no grand conclusions or plans or anything but mostly I’d love to hear from YOU all. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the internet and its infinite possibilities and avenues you can go down? What do YOU do to combat internet/social media fatigue? How do you curate your internet consumptions? WHAT IS YOUR INTERNET ROUTINE LIKE? Tell me allll the things, people!!

Why I Am The Way I Am

 

Well, I really don’t have the answer for the overarching reason of why I am the way I am in general. That’s another topic for another day. More so, I had an encounter this weekend that reminded me why I blog, why I do it the way I do  (read: probably way too open and emotional and sappy for most people). It was definitely one of those life-affirming things for me.

So Will had off on Friday for the 4th of July and we kept throwing around ideas for things to do. We finally decided just to stay around our area. We took a four mile walk (2 miles to this cute neighborhood we love with lots of shops and food stuff and 2 miles back). One of my missions, besides getting coffee, was to find this Little Free Library (which I think is the COOLEST concept ever) that I knew was in the area so I loaded up a backpack with a couple books and we went. It was an adorable street off the main road and when we walked up there were two ladies outside in front of it actually picking out paint colors for it — one being the owner and the other her neighbor. I’m a chatty/friendly person (clearly you know this) and so we got to talking to them for a little bit. Learned that the owner of the LFL used to work with Laurie Halse Anderson who I love so that was pretty cool but then she talked about WHY she decided to put up a Little Free Library. And here comes the life/blog-affirming part.

Little Free Library

She shared that she had gotten the Little Free Library when she was caring for her husband who was diagnosed with ALS. They felt closed off as it got harder to go places for him and so she got one in hopes that neighbors and the community would come use it. It became such an uplifting thing for him (and for her) to have neighbors and others come visit and exchange books and interact with them in such a hard time. I haven’t really talked about it on the blog as much as I’ve talked about losing my mom to brain cancer but Will’s dad passed away from ALS about 5 years ago. So this story really, really moved me and I was so thankful that she shared it.

Here’s the thing. I’ve always believed that reading and books are a special sort of magic. They are there when you are lonely, when you need to feel connected to other humans, when you need to escape, when you need something to uplift you or energize you or don’t want to feel alone in whatever you are dealing with. They have the power to transform and save and do all sorts of things. Words and stories are so powerful.

It reaffirmed for me about how much reading and blogging about what I read is about connection for me — connecting with other readers, hearing their stories and just connecting with humanity in the pages of the books I read. I think that’s why I’m so willing to share the personal things. Why I hope you will trust me with your stories when I share whether that be in the form of blog posts of your own, in my comments or in my inbox. That’s why I might talk more about my experiences related to a book or how a story moved me personally. It’s just important to me. It’s just how I’m wired. Maybe it was losing my mom when I realized how much CONNECTING with other people who went through something hard/similar and hearing their stories made me not feel so alone. How certain books were there for me at the right time.

It reaffirmed why I run my blog the way I do.

 

And this is not to say that it’s the right way (I’ve said it a zillion times before…no right way/no better way). It’s just the way that makes me feel content and makes it fulfilling and worthwhile FOR ME. It’s why I’m okay that I’m not naturally the blogger who can do a wonderful critical analysis and point out all the technical things that just don’t come so easily for me. It’s why I’m okay with featuring books in different ways even though it might not be flashy and get a whole lot of attention. It’s why I’m okay writing more personal posts in favor of  promo posts. All those things that I don’t do are great and needed and important… but the things that I do are the things that align with ME and what I care about/what interests me and the blog gives me an outlet to do that. I’m so thankful for that. When I DO the things that make me fulfilled it’s what keeps this blog going (and everybody’s sense of fulfillment comes from something else!).

Sometimes I’ll get down on myself that maybe I should do this and that and what not. Maybe my blog should have more of this. Maybe it should look more like this. Maybe I should do less of this. But at the end of the day, I’m really happy with what I do. I’m happy with what I put out here and what I focus my time on when I do this. I’m so thankful for all the ways I’ve connected with people who became shoulders to cry on (metaphorical but whew you don’t have to endure the snot on your shoulder), who gave me advice or inspired me, who I may have helped with my words, who reached out to me and shared their stories, who may have felt inspired by my openness, etc. etc.

Today just really reaffirmed why I blog, why I do it the the way I do and why I am the way I am — no matter how the trends shift or what becomes cool. At the heart of this blog will always be the things that are important and fulfilling to me and I sincerely hope, for my fellow bloggers, that it’s that way for you — no matter how that looks! It also reminded me just how vast this book community is outside of my little corner of the bookternet and how wonderful it is.

Thank you for being vulnerable with me these 5 years. Thank you for sharing your stories on your blog, in the comments of my posts/emails or by the books that you write. It’s what has kept me around for the past 5 years — not the ARCs, not the “cool perks”, not the ad money, not the spotlight or anything else.

I’m Not Too Old For That!

I feel like all my favorite reading related discussions on this blog happen from conversations with non-reading people or non-YA reading people (this, this and this for sure). This discussion is certainly a product of such a conversation.

I was catching up with an old friend and the topic of reading came up and I definitely read different things than I used to. I explained some of the stuff I’m into now and she, totally not trying to be disrespectful, said something along the lines of, “But how do you read about teenagers so often? I feel like I’m so past all that and like it’s not at all relevant to my life anymore. Plus I like more literary things” And I mean, her right to read what she wants and I do understand WHY adults might not be into YA. Totally, I read adult fiction too because I can’t ONLY read YA. Anyways, I explained a little of why I love YA and gave her a couple books to try out because I am very confident in their relevancy to people of all ages. (I’m not even going to tackle that literary comment because HAHAH some of the YA books I love are way more ~literary~ than some adult books I’ve read).

But that encounter got me thinking… I will be 30 in October. My 10 year high school reunion happened last year. I AM SO FAR PAST HIGH SCHOOL. Why does YA speak to me still? I mean, I still read adult fiction and other things but I am so, so into YA and don’t see a switch being turned off anytime soon.

I mean, aside from the fact that YA has some of the most innovative and creative and exciting stuff coming out and AMAZING writing/storytelling/characters…what IS IT about YA that attracts me to it still? I really thought about it and I’ve come to the conclusion it lies in these two areas:

1. There is something really appealing to me when I read YA because of the lens I read it through as an adult and how I can reflect and process my past.

I honestly think there are so many things that I’d experienced as a YA that makes so much more sense to me now as an adult. I am a very reflective person by nature and I’ve found that reading YA has helped me to do that and also has made me more self aware as an adult because of it.

2. THERE ARE SO MANY UNIVERSAL THINGS IN YA THAT DON’T GO AWAY ONCE YOU HIT ADULTHOOD.

I mean, SO many of the things I read about in YA are actually relevant to me. I might not be in high school or be falling in love for the first time as an old married lady but what I find about a lot of my most favorite YA books is that when you strip away that kind of stuff that isn’t applicable to me, I still find things that are so, so relevant to me. That are these universal THINGS that most humans — young and old — deal with to some degree. And I have found that YA has explored these things in such a raw and honest way that really clicks with me.

Here’s just a small sample of things that have been so, so relevant to me in YA novels (in a thought-provoking and meaningful way) despite being past that ripe YA age:

grief and loss and tries to work through that. My mom might have passed away in 2006 when I wasn’t reading YA but there is still so much to work through even years later and reading YA stories about grief has helped me process a lot. It’s given me new eyes to what I experienced as an actual young adult when my mom was sick and then passed away. Read: Why I love reading stories about grief

–  friendship: I’ve read books about losing friends, making new friends, the ups and downs of friendship, etc. etc. As a 30-something my friendship landscape may have changed but friendship at 16 and friendship at 30, while different, relies on a lot of the same core things. And a lot of those friendship issues that you have at 16? YOU STILL HAVE THEM AT 30 BUT JUST IN DIFFERENT WAYS. It’s still so hard to deal with friend breakups or growing apart, the difficulty of making new friends, opening yourself up to new friends (getting over your initial judgments to make room for a friend) and there is still so much JOY in having girlfriends. I think I appreciate those relationships EVEN MORE NOW.

–  finding yourself/growing into your own as you grow up/becoming the most REAL version of yourself/figuring life out: I’m sad to report to 16 year old Jamie that you don’t figure your shit out when you become an adult like I thought would happen. I think, as a approach 30, I’m more myself than I’ve ever been before as I’ve waded through a lot of versions of myself that were only half true to my heart. But I AM STILL FIGURING IT OUT. I don’t think you ever truly figure things out. I still doubt myself. I’m still growing and learning (about myself and the world). I learn SO MUCH about myself and my own journey through YA characters of all genres. Things that inspire me, things that make me want to be braver and better and kinder, things that make me want to live more boldly and take more chances. I STILL don’t know what I want to do with my life despite knowing what I want to BE ABOUT and HOW I want to live. I’m still figuring it all out.

And honestly these are just A FEW of the things that my last couple reads made me think about and were so RELEVANT to my life (I could go on — family issues, identity issues, living more fully, figuring out what you want to do with your life, fighting for what you believe in or what is right, life disappointments, feeling lost, dealing with depression, heartbreak, etc).

And sure, I’m not saying reading YA as an adult is something that everyone has to be into or is their thing. I can understand not WANTING to read about high school/teenagers, being picky about what kind of content you read in YA or even finding SOME stuff in YA eyerolly as an adult (I do sometimes!) but to say that YA can’t be or isn’t relevant to the life of adults is simply not true.

 

I’m curious…if you are an adult reading YA..what draws you to it? If you have a different feeling about this, I’d love to know!

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