Savindi from The Streetlight Reader recently wrote a really lovely post about what makes you the reader you are. And it got me thinking. What kind of a reader am I, and how would I define myself as a reader? The easy answer is that I don’t know. For me it’s the same with pretty much everything I like, and I think a lot of people can relate to this. You can spend ages thinking about your favourite books, TV series, films, and bands, but the moment someone asks you about any one of those your mind goes blank and you go “oh, I like a bit of everything really”. So what would the not-so-easy answer be? The truth is that I don’t just like a bit of everything, on the contrary, I have very specific tastes when it comes to books. But that doesn’t mean that I’m bound to certain genres or even to specific topics, although when you look at the books I read I’m sure you’ll be able to discover quite a few recurring themes and genres.
Even though I first and foremost read for pleasure, I’m not very fond of fluffy light-hearted books. Savindi mentioned Anna and the French Kiss, which a lot of people are very enthusiastic about, but it wouldn’t be my kind of book either. When comparing my taste in books to that of my peers I’ve always been the odd one out. When fellow classmates were trying with all their might to get their hands on the easiest and shortest books on the reading list for our English class, I was quite happily delving into the classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, much to the amusement and joy of my teachers. When, aged 12, I ran out of books to read during a holiday in Greece and my mum gave me some money to go and buy a new book, I triumphantly returned with a book on Greek mythology in English (not my first language), which didn’t even shock her anymore by that point because it was just so typically me.
I like books to challenge me, to force me to think outside the box, and to make me look at things from another perspective. I like books to be different, shocking, poetic, and not to rehash the same stereotypical narratives over and over again (mind you, I’m not looking for all of these components in the same book). So I suppose I could describe myself as having quite an eclectic taste in books, ranging from historical fiction to fantasy, and from young adult to mystery and crime fiction, with the odd bits of non-fiction thrown in. I will read anything as long as it interests me, regardless of genre.
However, I do find that my taste in books has changed quite a bit over the years, but that’s just a part of the process of growing up I suppose. As a child I used to adore books by Astrid Lindgren, Enid Blython and Roald Dahl, as well as a lot of Dutch children’s books. In primary school I used to devour the books in the school library, and it’s safe to say that I read most of them. In those days I just wanted to read as much as possible, both because I just couldn’t help myself and because I hoped it would get me out of doing other boring things like maths (sadly, this never worked). At the time I wasn’t really aware of genres and I basically just read anything that came my way. When I was about 11 I first discovered the Harry Potter books, this was after the 3rd book had just been released in Dutch, and I just adored them straightaway. I finished all 3 books fairly quickly, and because I was very eager to learn English at the time I decided to buy Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in English and read it all again before the 4th book came out. The Goblet of Fire was the last of the series that I read in translation, and after that I just bought the English editions as soon as they came out. Thanks to Harry Potter I started reading in English at a relatively young age, and I think it’s safe to say that for a large part it shaped me as a reader. I found that the more English books I read, the easier it became, and soon it was just as easy for me as reading in my native language. On top of that English books are a whole lot cheaper, so from then on I started reading almost exclusively in English, and I haven’t looked back since.
In high school I discovered historical fiction as a genre, and because history was always one of my favourite subjects it soon became one of my favourite literary genres as well. Towards the end of high school when I really needed to start thinking about what kind of a degree I was going to choose I became interested in the Middle East, and I began to look for more fiction with a Middle Eastern theme. When I switched majors from Arabic to English I had to read loads of British and American literature, and this only reaffirmed my love for Victorian literature.
The internet, and especially book blogs and Goodreads have changed my perspective on reading yet again, because suddenly I was exposed to a whole lot of genres and authors that I’d never heard of before. It introduced me to Young Adult and dystopian novels, just to name a few, and even though I haven’t read many of those, it still changed me as a reader I think. Without Goodreads I don’t think I would’ve ever read The Hunger Games, Divergent, or Game of Thrones, and it would be a shame if I had missed out on those. And in the end it inspired me to start my own book blog, and it gave me the opportunity to discuss my favourite books with other people which is just wonderful.
So to come back to the question: what kind of a reader am I? I would say that I’m a diverse reader, ever-changing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way 😀
How would you describe yourself as a reader?