A fun little fact about me is that I’ve been able to read since I was two years old. I’m now twenty-two so naturally I’ve done a fair bit of reading in those twenty years and even more naturally, my tastes and even methods of reading has changed. Obviously I haven’t been reading only picture books for twenty years but recently I’ve got to thinking how far I’ve come as a reader and how different my tastes are now compared to not just since when I was a child, but even since five years ago. So today I’m going to go on a journey through time (memory permitting) to recount all the ways my reading has changed as I’ve gotten older. And maybe have an existential crisis in the process. We’ll see about that one.
My memory is the absolute worst so I don’t really remember stuff from this time. It was twenty years ago, cut me some slack. But obviously at this point I was reading picture books and other kinds of things you give to toddlers when they’re learning to read (if you decide to teach your child yourself, like my parents did). This was so far back that I barely remember what my favourite book was when I was so little, but it was probably something about cats. I do remember having a cardboard picture book about cats that was in the shape of a cat because the cat that we had at the time was actually older than me so I’ve always been around them. Cats. They’re great.
When I was in primary school we used the Oxford Reading Tree books to practise reading and if my memory serves me right, I was always one level up from the other kids. Most of them were still reading the Biff, Chip, and Kipper books while I was onto other books. One thing I definitely do remember is that one book actually scared me, so I had to ask to not read it anymore 😬 Once we’d all gotten old enough to stop reading them, I tried to read Black Beauty because I had a huge obsession with horses at the time (yes, i was a horse girl) and never managed to get through it because it was probably too mature for me and I was seven years old at the time. I still haven’t tried to pick it up after the reading assistant, who I shared my surname with, said that I was “letting the [X] name down” because I couldn’t finish the book. Naturally, that left a bad taste in my mouth. After that, I moved on to more commonly known British children’s authors like Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, and Jacqueline Wilson. Especially Jacqueline Wilson. The woman is a legend over here and nearly every person my age has read her books. I’m sure I’ve read most of her books when I was a kid and I didn’t even pay attention to the reading levels so I was actually reading her books for older readers when I wasn’t actually an older reader. #Rebel. Oh, and I also read some of the Harry Potter books as part of a class at school. It was also at this time that I discovered manga, mainly because I thought it was weird that the books were “backwards”, and the very first manga series I read was Fruits Basket, which I have read multiple times since then.
I started secondary school when I was eleven and that was the time when I started reading YA books for the first time. The first YA book that I’d read was probably Uglies which is still one of my favourite books now, and that led me to read other series like Twilight, Meg Cabot’s books, and Anna Godbersen’s books. It was also round this time that I first joined Goodreads, which I obviously still use today. Although I was primarily reading YA at this point, I did go through a brief phase where I tried to read every single classic book that I could because I thought I was smart enough to. I wasn’t.
Another new discovery I made was Western comics. I was already reading manga but for some reason I hadn’t given any Western comics a try outside of Beano comics that my brother had. I was twelve when The Dark Knight came out and I think that’s what started my obsession with Batman (which is actually waning a little these days, but whatever). Even though I do like comics, I’ve never been a regular reader of them because they’re so expensive to keep up with every week, and even buying the collected editions gets expensive. And sometimes the writers do exactly the opposite of what you want them to do and you get bored of them and just stop reading them. Ahem. Anyways, at this time I used to really take my time with my reading and I would read exactly two chapters before I went to sleep. Depending on how big a book was that could take some time.
When I was sixteen I went to sixth form and also I started this blog! 🎉
Naturally, I continued on with reading YA books but now I was reading a lot more of them in one more because I had changed to reading two books in a week by planning out how much of one book I would read in a day. This was mainly because back in the earlier days of my blog I would review two books a week and also, I would review every book I read. I was still reading some classics because of studies but my tastes were actually influenced by other people for the first time. I had this idea that in order to be a successful blogger, you had to read the same books as everyone else, and that’s exactly what I did. Looking back, that isn’t really the case at all but blogging does still help me to find new books to read. I remember being hugely into dystopian books at the time because that was the big craze, and then also paranormal romance because that was another big trend.
My habit of reading two books a week was thrown straight out of the window because I went to university and ended up barely reading at all during my first undergrad year. Time management is something that I can struggle with and being in class took a lot of energy out of me. So much, that once I got home (or even on the bus) I just didn’t have enough energy left to even read, I just wanted to sit online instead. I actually ended up reading during class at some points which I really do not recommend because it’s rude and you won’t learn anything if you do that. Read during your breaks, not during class. I went through plenty of reading slumps at this time, mainly because I tried to force myself into my old routine of reading two books a week which just ended up being too much for me, so I cut back down to only one book a week, which I still do now. I also blame this down to my brain because I got sick at the end of my second undergraduate year and that’s really affected my concentration so it would be impossible for me to read as much as other people do, but the way I do things works for me. In terms of genres, at this time I was really big into contemporaries because I didn’t want to read anything too heavy and just wanted fluff all the time.
All that recounting brings us up to now! I’m still going strong with reading just one book a week since it’s what works best for me now, and I also don’t freak out if I don’t manage to finish a book when I wanted to because I’ll still finish it. I don’t really have a favourite genre anymore and just read whatever I want now without worrying about whether anyone else is reading it. Reading shouldn’t be stressful or something done for status, it’s something that should be done for fun and because you like it.
How old were you when you started reading? Have your tastes in reading changed since you were a kid? What were your favourite genres then and now? Am I the only relatively young person who feels a million years old?