At just about ten years ago, I was basically only reading Magic Treehouse and Rainbow Magic books. Wow, does a decade change everything.
Now I am not only reading allll the YA books, I’ve dipped my chilly toes into the world of New Adult/Adult books with all their dark vibes, and have even begun writing some for myself.
Back in my naive, friendless, homeschool days of elementary/middle school, I was reading upwards of two hundred books a year. Many of those would be three or four hundred pages. I was mostly reading fantasy (until late high school, it was really my only genre). I was obsessed with anything Bryan Davis and my favorite books were the Ranger’s Apprentice and Percy Jackson series. Life was simple.
Then I began to evolve my reading tastes. Books became mature (gasp! they’d occasionally swear!). I found online bookish communities that expanded my literary horizons. I discovered that, hey, classics weren’t so bad. Audiobooks were brilliant.
I started a writing + book blog myself, keeping it a secret from everyone that I knew. I made more online friends than I had in real life. Review copies and book blog tours became a thing. My mom discovered I had a blog, and it nearly became something of the past.
Then, eventually, I started a book blog all on its own. My followers grew and my love for talking all things books increased, as well. Now I was discovering just how limited my reading experiences really were. Now that I was a part of the online bookish community, I learned how to discover new books. I found authors such as Nadine Brandes, VE Schwab, and Alwyn Hamilton.
Now, not only were my literary horizons quickly expanding, but my little, introverted, no-friends self began to experience the world for real through contemporary novels and fantasy novels alike. I learned different opinions and how others thought and how beautiful and ugly the world really could be.
I quickly learned that I hate mystery books.
My book blog never quite took off like I had naively hoped, but my dedication remained steady as I moved to another house and matured through my beginning high school years. Sharing reviews and lists and general dorkiness increased my love for all of the bookish things and was a loving, fun escape whenever siblings were too much or I realized my lack in friendships.
To the present day, now that I am in college, finding motivation and time to write posts has become hard. Finding motivation and time to read books has become hard. But I am still here. I am proudly staking a flag in the ground, declaring that I may not read as much as I did two, five, ten years ago. I may not be as active in the online bookish communities, but I am still here.
My passion is still a fire inside my chest, just a little more contained.
But now I am discovering that there is a world outside of the inked pages I so love. It may not be quite as whimsical and charming, but it is endearing in its own rights. I am discovering new friendships – ones with non-readers, which has been a struggle in its own ways. I have been having new experiences. College is a huge step for me. I bought a Starbucks drink for the first time. I went on my first dates this year. I’ve gone on coffee dates with friends. I’ve seen more movies this summer than I probably have my whole life.
And looking back on this past decade, I’ve come to realize something: just because I’ve read less books these past few years and I’ve chosen hanging out with friends rather than reading a book, it doesn’t make me any less of a reader. In fact, it makes me appreciate oh-so-much-more when I find a good book that I can’t put down. I lovingly look back on the person I had been when I would read multiple books a day, locked away in my room and have come to accept myself now.
Growth is okay. Not reading all the time is okay. Changing hurts and looking back with nostalgia leaves an ache in my heart. But, I am coming to terms with that. The guilt that I feel when I haven’t read a book in a month or two is slowly starting to disappear.
Here’s to a new decade of reading.
Merry Bookish New Years.