We all change. If I looked forward at myself ten years from now, I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize the woman. Even the habits we think would never be different down the road suddenly morph into something complete opposite. Looking back at some of my reading preferences from the time I first started reading seriously and blogging about books eight years ago, I can’t believe how drastically some of my priorities have shifted. I decided to make a quick list, and here’s the result.
1. I read more. And I mean much, much, much more. My first year writing for a different blog saw me complete fourteen novels. Considering that I am at my ninetieth at the moment for 2016, that is practically nothing. I think joining Goodreads in 2009 really boosted my motivation for making more time for reading. Thanks to GR I’m getting exposed to more promising new books every day. My TBR is growing exponentially, which in turn excites me to get to all of them as soon as possible. The yearly challenge turns reading into a game, where I compete with friends and challenge myself to read a chosen amount. I struggled in 2012 to even get close to the goal of 30 books; in 2016 I completed the challenge of 60 back in July. The more you read, the more you’ll want to read. The more support you have from like-minded people, the more fun you’ll have doing it.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
2. I rely on audiobooks a lot. I never thought in a million years that audiobooks would somehow feature in my life, but for the last two years I cannot live without them. My first one was The Hobbit, way back in 2008. Long story short, it didn’t go well; I just couldn’t keep my mind from wandering. Eventually I gave audiobooks another chance by following along with the written text, and it suddenly clicked. Practice made it only better. Now I can play books in the background while doing chores, commuting, or working on mindless tasks in the office, which seriously boosts my reading output.
3. I take more chances. I used to stick to my comfort zone. Seriously, if there is one thing you choose to take away from this post, it should be the importance of taking chances. This year I went against my cardinal rule of not reading YA, and picked up My Lady Jane. It turned out to be one of the top 10 best surprises I’ve read in 2016 so far. I used to tell myself that I should try science fiction, only to never pick up a book in the genre. Now I do not wait for the doubt to stall me; I pick it up and read. Worst case scenario – I’ll hate it after the first few chapters and put it down indefinitely. So don’t be scared to try something new; you might really surprise yourself.
4. I stopped being a book hipster. Yep, there is such a thing. I used to avoid popular, buzzy, or bestseller books. I used to smirk at the huge hold list for movie tie-ins at the library. I used to say silly things like, I’ll only read classics from now on. There is nothing worse than limiting yourself to what you read, and sometimes it’s just plain fun to join in a lively conversation on social media about the latest hot title. You never know where your next favorite will come from, so keep exploring.
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” ― Oscar Wilde
5. I read more diversely without even trying. While I don’t really care about the gender and race of the author, as long as the book is genuine in its message and accurate in its research, there are some benefits to being mindful of such things. It’s true that some groups get more exposure than others, so consciously trying to include the underexposed authors into your reading is a positive thing. I noticed that this year female authors make up 46% of my overall reads, which is great considering I wasn’t making these choices on purpose. Going back to my previous points, taking more chances and reading diverse topics/genres automatically expanded the pool of voices I was willing to hear.
6. I don’t buy every book on a whim. Like many book lovers out there I would step into the book store and spend a good hour browsing and picking up titles based on a quick blurb and a pretty cover. As a result I ended up with two bookcases crammed full of stuff that I didn’t really love, or lost any interest to pick up. I was wasting my money on dust collectors, basically. Nowadays I get most of my books at the library first, or pick up some titles I’m curious about at a thrift shop for a couple of dollars. If I love it and will read it again, I will buy it for my own shelves. If I don’t, it goes back where it came from. Now my personal library consists only of cherished books that will be read for years to come, and that’s how I intend to keep it.
“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” ― Joseph Brodsky
7. I stopped caring about book condition. Pretty, untouched books lined up in a perfect arrangement on the shelf still make my heart skip a beat. In reality, however, I want to read these books over and over, and take them with me in my purse, and make notes of beautiful passages, and lend them to my friends! A well-used book is a story in itself. Yes, I have special items that will never move from their designated spot, like precious signed editions, but anything goes for the rest. Buying from thrift stores and library sales really taught me to stop worrying about the exterior. There is something comforting about handling a tattered paperback in your hands.
8. I read mass market paperbacks! Never would I have guessed that these days I’d be picking up mass markets over hardcovers. I used to only acknowledge hardbacks as the golden standard of books, but I could care less nowadays. While I do prefer to stick to standard tall paperbacks when buying brand new copies for my personal library, I test drive them first in mass market. There is no format more convenient to throw in your bag, or to take to the appointment, or to lounge with on a couch all day. The old me would have screamed in terror if she saw me. Looking back at the last three points, I think overall in the past eight years I stopped being a collector of books, and began really enjoying them as the vessels of wisdom and entertainment.
And there is that! Did any of these points speak to you? Did you change as a reader in recent years? I am very curious to hear about the experiences of others!