History of the Reader: Part 2

Hello!  The last time I posted about my bookshelves was in July of 2017, so it’s high time we talk about them again.  I’ve done a few small reorganizations in the months following that post in July, but nothing that really stood out.  I was also rereading the previous History of the Reader post (conveniently linked there), and noticed a glaring omission on my history as a reader.  So hey, back at it again with a part two.

This is going to sound crazy considering what I write, but fun fact, I didn’t start reading Young Adult until the very end of 2016.  Whaaaaat.  Okay, that’s kind of a lie.  I was reading YA before 2016, but like?  A few books a year?  And mostly by Maggie?  I think the problem was that Ronan was adult high fantasy, so I was always trying to read books like that.  LOTR, ASOIAF, DragonLance, and others.  Even if they weren’t high fantasy, I kept telling myself that since I was an “adult” (I was in college, who the heck was I kidding) majoring in English, I should probably also be reading adult novels.  I would buy James Joyce, Ian McEwan, Jane Austen, and all sorts of similar authors, pretend that I was going to read them and be a “cultured” (I hate myself) reader, and then literally never read them.

Not literally.  I have read a few Joyce and one McEwan.  No Austen, sorry.

Cultured?

What?

Pretentious, is what I was trying to say.  (Reading adult novels is not pretenious, but the way I was thinking about reading was.)  I thought that YA were not the kinds of books that I should be reading, and it’s just the dumbest thing ever, and I’m here to formally apologize for ever thinking that just because I’d reached a certain age meant that I couldn’t read books meant for younger readers.  Spoiler: I freaking love middle reader now.

After college, I kept buying adult books and kept not reading them, and then in the beginning of 2016, I made up this insane rule that I wasn’t allowed to buy books until I’d read the 100 (!!!) unread books on my shelves.  In a completely predictable turn of events, I started making up exceptions.  If a new Maggie book came out.  If Jack picked a book for our then-book club that I didn’t own.  As I moved onto the end of the year, if it was research for Mason or another novel idea that I was having.  Any excuse that I could think of to keep buying books, it became an exception to the rule.

Alright.  I have a problem.  I’m buying adult books and not reading them.  I’m writing YA (Mason), but not reading YA.  There’s a pretty simple solution here.

In December of 2016, I bought some books.  Eight YA books, to be exact.  Have I read all of them?  You betcha.  Wow, hi, Young Adult is actually the greatest thing ever, and I need to read everything I can get my hands on.  I’m super behind the game, so I have got a lot to catch up on in the YA world.  But here, finally, I had found my jam.  These were stories that I wanted to hear, and also stories that I wanted to tell.  Mason was such a mess the first time around for several reasons.  It was the first novel I’d written outside of Ronan, and thus the first novel I’d written in 11 years that was brand new.  It was Young Adult even though I’d read maybe 10 YAs in my entire reading career.

You know what the funny thing is?  I credit reading more last year to the fact that I made a decision to read more, but if I’m being honest, it was because of what I was reading.  Here’s some stats for you.

In 2013, I read 30 books.  10 were YA.

In 2014, I read 18 (yikes) books.  3 were YA.

In 2015, I read 34 books.  4 were YA.

In 2016, I read 64 books.  12 were YA.

Last year, I read 82 books.  49 were YA.

I kind of see a trend.  At the end of 2016 was when I bought my first stack of YA books.  You can see how well that went throughout 2017.

Now, here’s the thing.  I’m not saying that you should be reading YA.  I’m saying that you should read what you’re writing, and what you enjoy.  You shouldn’t say to yourself, oh I’m an “adult” now, so I should read adult books.  Nah, that’s dumb.  Read what the heck you want to read, man.  If you’re writing an adult book, sure, you should probably read some of those.  But if you also enjoy other things, read other things!  Am I writing middle grade?  No.  Not yet.  But I’m going to keep reading them because I like them.  And maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m just actually crazy, but I don’t think I’m wrong when I say that other people have this problem with books.  We think we have to read a certain type of book because we’re a certain age, we got a degree in xyz, or whatever other reason society’s created for why you need to do and be a certain way.

It took me a long time to realize that reading was about fun and for me, not so the rest of the world could go, “Oh, she’s read Arundhati Roy, she must be sooooo cultured.”  Bleh.  (I love Arundhati Roy, though, holy magic.)  Stop that.  Go read some John Green if that’s what your jam is.  (Spoiler: I’ve never read any John Green or Hunger Games, which I’m told is very odd.)

I’m going book shopping in five (?) days.  On Saturday.  I like to bookshop with Erin because it kind of feels a little like we’re sharing something secret with each other.  We’ll sit in the YA section and pass books back and forth.  Sometimes just because we want to know if a book sounds good or not, or sometimes we’ll wave the book at each other because wow yes read this thing right now.  Sometimes, she’ll help me pare down 15 books into 10.  Sometimes, she’ll hand me books and say, “It’s about witches, but is it in first person?  Please say no.”  In preparation, I decided it was a really convenient time to reorganize my shelves even though I’m literally about to buy more books that I’ll need to make room for.  I don’t know why I do these things, either.

But!  I’ve been seeing rainbow bookshelves for actually forever, and I wanted to try them, so I gave it a whirl.  My mom says it’s like my haircut.  I’ll do it, be happy with it for a short period of time, and then immediately hate it.  I think she’s pretty dead on.  I’m giving the rainbow shelves about 3-4 weeks before I’m absolutely furious with not being able to find anything because I have no idea what color the spine is.  However, I also (not pictured) created a TBR shelf that contains all of the unread books that I have that I’m hopefully planning to read this year, so this might last a little longer since I won’t need to search for those.

Oh my god, look at them.  I love them so much.  These shelves are literally just for the aesthetic because hell, I’m never going to find anything, but they look beautiful.  This process took about 4ish hours?  I started around 5 (I can’t remember the exact time), but I took a break close to 6 to make dinner, and I finished around 9ish?  Maybe 3 hours.  It was a pain in the actual behind, too, but I put on The Greatest Showman soundtrack and just danced and sang my way through it.

The process itself probably could have been done an easier way than I did it, but I started by color-coding all the top three shelves in stacks on my bed, forgetting that I wanted to start with white and putting all the red books in the top shelf, and then periodically having to move everything down a shelf when I had more books to put on a specific color shelf.  At the beginning, my blue books were on shelf three, and, as you can see, they’re not even on this shelf anymore.

I also wanted to feature a book per color and shelf, as well, so for white we have To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee because duh and A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab because also duh.  I also color-coordinated all my crystals!  And Funkos!  And candles!  Except for those chakra crystals, obviously.

For red, we’ve got a really old, super cool version of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, which is one of my favorite books of all time, and Deadpool and Spiderman.  My Funkos used to live in a very precise line on top of my bookshelf, and it’s fun having them mingling now.

For orange, we’ve got Iron Man and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling.  Let me tell you, having to split up not only Harry, but all of my Maggie books was a really test of willpower.

Yellow is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and Hulk and Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen for green.

Wow, that’s a lot of blue books.  Blue is second only to black, both of which are not surprising, but that is seriously a lot of blue books.  For features, we’ve got Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Mallory, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield, which actually didn’t move an inch, The Someday Birds by Sally J Pla, which I absolutely had to feature again, and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater because it’s my all time favorite book, as well as Cap, Thor, Sally, and Thorin.

And then, way down where you can barely see are the purple books, featuring The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows by Ava Lavender, which is both strange and beautiful and I’ve always wanted to feature it, and I was super excited because the heather flowers were a perfect match to put in front of it.

Separating all of the Ellen Hopkins were pretty cool, too, since she’s got a few books for pretty much every color.

And finally, the mostly black shelf.  Jen tells me that she’s going to buy me more pink books just so that I’ll have more than a very small handful of them.  I didn’t even end up featuring anything for pink because I didn’t like anything enough, and it would’ve covered almost all of them.  But I did feature Moondust by Andrew Smith for grey, and then three books for black–This is Our Story by Ashley Elston (I know it’s got a blue cover, but the spine is black), Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (THIS BOOK, UGH), and The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.  I also got to put my Venetian mask up with the pink, and repping the black team are V (no one is surprised about his placing), Jack, and Toothless.

I also had to stack the black books on the bottom two shelves differently because somehow this organization takes up more room than my previous one?  I don’t know how that makes sense since they’re all in a neat order and most of the featured books are in front of other books, but apparently, the weird stacking I had going on in the previous styling worked for more room.  This is particularly concerning, too, since my TBR shelf is completely full and I’m about to buy more, so even if I end up loving this styling, I’ll probably need to change it for space.

And that’s a wrap on me rambling endlessly about books!  As always, if you’re still curious, I’m over here on Goodreads, and I’m always down to give book recommendations.

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