As many of you know, I read. Often. Entire 8 hour spans with nothing more than a pause to use the bathroom (or to let the dogs use the bathroom). In fact, today, my guy suggested that I go shopping instead of sitting at home all day reading, and, well, I'm still in my work out clothes (at least I did that today!). In the rock-paper-scissors world of reading vs. shopping, reading beats shopping every time. (Shopping beats cleaning, but cleaning does NOT beat reading. I don't think anything beats reading...)
But what do I read? And how do I choose? What kind of reader am I?
In order to explain what kind of reader I am and how I choose the books I read, I need to give you a little history about my life as a reader. So grab a cup of cocoa, a snuggly, and enjoy.
When I was little my family would watch TV together in the evenings. After about an hour of Murder, She Wrote, my dad would usually move from the front couch to the back couch and open a book. I think he wanted to spend time with us but just wasn't all that interested in TV (to this day it's pretty difficult to get him to sit through an entire movie). As a daddy's girl, I often went and sat with him. And since he was reading, I had to as well. I brought my library books out and sat next to him while he his books. Then one day, I was probably about 13, he finished a book and handed it to me. I wish I could remember the title - all I know is the cover was blue and it was a mystery novel. And it had the "sh" word in it! I felt soooo mature. From then on, if Dad thought I could handle the book, he'd give it to me when he was done. If not, he put it in the basket (and I always raided the basket when he wasn't around). And any book my dad liked, I had to like. One day he handed me The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. I started reading it and hated it. But I didn't want to admit that to my dad, so I avoided reading it or talking about it. When it became obvious that my dad loved the book and was dying to talk to me about it (he's Italian and prefers silence, so when he wants to talk, you talk), I picked it up again. Once I'd struggled past the first 80 pages or so I couldn't put it down. I literally fell in love for the first time. I felt like the words had power, I wanted to be PeeKay and I really REALLY wanted to work in a coal mine with a big Russian guy (ironic that that part isn't the most important part of the book, but I have loved mines ever since). That book changed my life, both how I viewed myself and my talents and abilities, and how I viewed reading.
I often look back at that experience and wonder who I would be if I hadn't read that book - both as Suzanne the semi-normal woman, and as Suzanne the reader. What it did for Suzanne the person is show me what self confidence is, about the effects of our actions, and why it's important to never give up. For Suzanne the reader, it made me unable to put a book down until I've read it cover to cover, and it expanded my "reading comfort zone".
So what type of reader am I?
I'm a slow reader. I like to re-read passages that are particularly well worded, or go back and find the clues in a mystery.
I enjoy all genres. Some more than others, but I have read books of every major genre and enjoyed them all.
According to my mentor, idol and friend Di Herald, I prefer literary fiction (books that don't have clean "happy for all" endings). I think this stems from the fact that life rarely has fariytale endings. I'm aware that books don't have to be realistic, I just like them to be a little realistic. I think reading too many romance novels gave me the wrong idea of what love looks like, so now in my old age I'm a bit...skeptical?...of books with shiny, happy, perfect endings.
I don't get graphic novels. If the mystery clues are written out, I can solve the mystery in 90 pages (usually). If you draw it out, I'll miss the clues every time.
I now read every single book from the point of view of a book-recommender/librarian. Whenever I finish a book, a list of names of people and students who would like the book pops into my head.
I am a reader that refuses to purchase books. The only books I have actually paid for with my own money in the last two years are either absolute favorites, gifts or textbooks for grad school. Find your local public library and use it.
I choose books based on recommendations from other librarians, friends, family or reviews I read. The list of books I want to read is so long I stopped keeping one. If I see it or hear about it more than once, or if it's on the bookshelf as I'm walking by in the library, I read it. I always welcome recommendations, though I think the public library would prefer that I didn't - my request list is a mile long.
If I start a book, I have to finish it. There are very few exceptions to this rule. If I consider putting a book down, I remember The Power of One and keep reading it. Though you'll be happy to know I have learned that it's OK for me to not like a book my dad recommends.
I love YA Lit and am darn proud of it. I don't care if you think it's silly. Read this article by Gretchen Kolderup and you'll understand why. "But even if I were to switch careers, I would continue reading YA Lit because it’s good." I agree with her completely. Kolderup does an amazing job of explaining what YA Lit is and isn't, but I think it is sufficient to say simply, YA Lit is good literature, reagardless of your age. My one soap box for this post is this: if you think YA Lit is just for teens, you're absolutely wrong. Email me, I'll chat with you about your likes and dislikes in reading and prove to you that there are equal numbers of YA Lit and adult lit books that fit your taste. And parents, if you have kids, get over it and start reading YA Lit. These books are not only interesting, they contain big issues that you can discuss with your children.
So what kind of reader are you?