My reading habits have changed a lot in the last few years.
I started really reading back in 6th grade, when a private library opened up nearby and my mum immediately got me registered for it. She used to be a HUGE reader when she was young, and has fond memories of reading books with her sister. Mum wanted me to have something for myself since I’m an only child and wasn’t very social. And I haven’t looked back since.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is “changes in my reading life” and I can’t wait to share my list with y’all. So let’s get to it!
I stopped going to the library
In all honesty, the library near me shut down. I started going to another one, and quickly made my way through the small selection they had at that branch. Currently, another private library exists about 3 kilometers from me, but I simply don’t have the time to make the trip back and forth. I used to frequent there for about a year before stopping because college left me with no time to visit.
Plus, being in India, I don’t find a lot of YA books in libraries. We have all the veteran authors but new books and YA is not as common. Which means that I’ll have to read as e-books anyway. It just seemed better for me to stop going to the library.
Now, I frequent a second hand bookstore where new books are immediately available, and where I can sell back books. It’s like a library, but without a time limit on the books, and has a much wider selection. Old books are discounted as well.
I’m way more picky
In the good ol’ days when I started reading, when I was going to the library, I would to go to a random section and pick out a book which “called to me”. I never saw the genre or the author. I would read the summary, but I often used to just go with my pick and try it out. This meant that I exposed myself to all genres and all kinds of books. Young Sumedha wasn’t picky and moody about her reads.
But now? I’ve become super picky. It’s, in part, because of the online book community. I’ve been exposed to things like “problematic”, “relevant issues”, “diversity” and other buzzwords. It’s not a bad influence—I’m glad to have learnt so much and to be more aware of what I read—but it also means that I’ve become so much more judgemental. Some books just seem too cliche, or not special enough, to read. And that’s so sad because every book deserves a chance.
I’m now a mood reader
Even before looking for new books to read, or looking at my TBR, I have a genre in mind. If I’m in the mood for romance, I just can NOT pick up anything else. Even a great fantasy book will not change my mind. I’ll see a great book, and add it to my ever-growing TBR for later because my current mood isn’t good for it. No matter the hype, the reviews, or recs from friends. I just can’t override my mood.
It’s honestly kind of annoying haha.
My favourite genre has changed
For the longest time, my favourite genre was fantasy. Right from 7th grade when I found vampires and books with non-humans and magic, up to my 2nd year of college when I loved A Court of Mist and Fury. Fantasy was my go-to. I’d be so on top of the fantasy books, even with new releases! I knew every fantasy book, and had read most of them.
But, over the last couple years, it has slowly changed. It happened in phases. I had a couple phases where I just wanted to read stand-alone romance books, and they lasted a few months each. By mid 2018, I was all-in on romance. Honestly, I didn’t want to admit that my favourite genre changed because fantasy will always be a soft spot for me. But, I finally admitted it to myself late last year.
My favourite genre is currently romance, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
My picks are easily influenced by the internet
The hype causes me to pick up books, and also make sure I never pick up some books. The online book community is filled with people who read and have their own opinions. I have come to read a lot of reviews, and look for multiple views when I come across a book.
I can’t pick up a book just by the name or summary anymore, unless it’s romance. Romance books don’t get a lot of hype anyway, and every romance book could be a gem.* But for any other genre? Especially any series? The hype influences my reading a lot.
As with anything else, this point has pros and cons. I’ve picked up some great books, and I’ve sadly neglected other books in favour of popular ones.
*I’ve found SO MANY GREAT ROMANCE BOOKS through Goodreads lists and random searches. The romance genre has the most underrated books.
I have a TBR
Until 2016, when I started blogging and following the online book community, I didn’t have a TBR. If, by chance, I find a really good book which I’d like to save for later, I would screenshot it’s cover or name. In fact, I had an album for those screenshots. But that album was always small. I never truly had a TBR list.
But now? I have a legit TBR list on Goodreads which has hundreds of books in it. I have several saved posts on Instagram, with books that I’d like to read. And I’ll be honest, I’m never good at following my TBR. I rarely open it. Being a mood reader, my picks are very random and usually don’t follow TBRs.
I always read reviews before picking up a book
Earlier, when I found books either in the library or on the internet, I’d pick it up based on what I was seeing right then. If it was a review, I’d make my choice on the book based on that review alone. If I saw the book in the bookstore, and I had a good feeling, I’d simply buy it.
My process is very different now. No matter how I’m introduced to a book, I always look for a few reviews before picking it up. For this, I go on Goodreads. And I make sure to read at least one negative review. I don’t like going in with very high expectations, and it’s always good to make sure that the book doesn’t have concepts that I hate. For example, I hate boss-employee romances and love triangles. In fact, negative reviews are my go-to before I pick up hyped books. It’s just like that.
I’m way more critical
Before I completed a year of blogging, and became fully immersed in the book community, my reading very different. I’d read to escape my world, to find something new, and to live a different life. I’d read for an adventure or a happy ending. And I would simply enjoy a book or not enjoy it. I was critical, but it was based on my values and completely my own opinions.
Now, my critique has changed with influences from other readers. I think about whether a book has diverse characters, whether there are problematic elements, and whether there’s appropriate representation. I’ve started considering at things that other reviewers consider.
I literally dissect books now. Character development, pacing, dialogue, and even inclusion of certain themes. I never thought of them particularly before, but now I do.
Being completely honest, I HATE it. I can’t make myself stop. A lot of my favourites from before are not good enough anymore, because of these new criticisms. It’s ruined those books for me, which I was so fond of for various reasons.
I sometimes feel ashamed of my reads
I try to make myself stop, but I just can’t. There are tons of strong opinions in this community, and we’re using the internet. It’s easy for people to point fingers and give their opinions against you/yours here. I’ve seen such strong opinions against my favourite authors/books. While I don’t care about what books other people like, I am afraid of being called out for what I like.
For example, Sarah J Maas. She was to be my favourite author for a while. I LOVED Throne of Glass and A Court of Mist and Fury*. I mentioned her and her books everywhere. I wasn’t shy with my love for her books.
But, there was just so much talk against SJ Maas and her books. It got me discouraged. I was challenged multiple times. Readers and reviewers pointed out why her books were “the worst” and why no one should like them. It didn’t matter that I liked the book just because I liked the world or the plot. It was clear that me saying I liked her books, without making sure that the person I’m talking to likes them as well, would put me in a bad spot.
SJ Maas stopped being my favourite author eventually because I didn’t like her latest books, but the effect stayed.
Now, it’s the same with romance books which have “problematic elements”. I recognize them, and I don’t condone them. But I liked the book! It made me feel nice! It’s happy ending left me happy! I JUST WANT TO PRAISE IT. Without worrying about people saying I liked or ignored the problematic issues.
*I didn’t like A Court of Thorns and Roses.
I’m always thinking about reviewing
Until a couple years back, I’d simply read a book. There was no annotating involved, or a pause in reading to contemplate something. I would simply read a book, and decide whether I want to review it after I finishing it. Because of this, I wouldn’t have lines to quote in reviews, or specific points to talk about, but it was okay! I was cool with it.
Now, after seeing how others review and the different kinds of reviews, my own style has adapted. I now annotate books freely. Many of my books have tabs and comments written next to paragraphs. And when I’m reading, I think about how I’m going to mention things in my review. For example, let’s say that a book becomes slow at around 50%. I make a note of it so I can mention it in my review. Sometimes, I even write sentences for my review in a notes app or as annotation right then.
I don’t just read anymore. My reading involves reviewing as I go.
And those were my 10 changes! When I started this post, I was unsure of whether there would be 10 points for me to write. Surprisingly, points just kept coming to me as I wrote. There were a lot of changes haha.
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Has your reading changed since you began? Have you been heavily influenced by the online book community as well?