young adult book reviews & more

Looking back over the past year & the subjectivity of reading

Looking over the past year, a lot has changed for The Book Muncher in terms of reading. This year, I only barely made it past 50 in my count of books read. Though certainly not a small number, it seems puny in comparison with the amount of books I read per year in the four years prior, which numbered over 100 in each. This combined with the fact that I no longer review all the books that I read, especially if I have done some non-blogging work related to a book, means that the quantity of reviews posted here has drastically decreased.

This really has nothing to do with how much I love reading. It’s simply a sad indication that senior year of college has taken its toll on this poor little blog.

In fact, I doubt that my overall reading consumption has decreased. Even if I’m not reading published YA novels, I’m still reading. And no, I’m not talking about required reading for class, even though that is a reality—I’m referring to the full and partial manuscripts I read for my internships and the like.

But, what’s a little more interesting is not how much I’m reading, per se, but what I’m actually reading.

Reading manuscripts and getting to see the agenting and editorial side of things has really changed how I read in general. This, in turn, has affected how I look at unpublished manuscripts as well as published books, especially the latter. I’ve become a bit pickier, and not just in terms of the books that I want to pick up. I’ve become more critical of all the things that make up a book, such as writing, pacing, voice, and a character’s emotional development. Things that used to be the selling point for me, particularly plot, while certainly still important, are less of a marker of whether I’ll truly love a book.

Take the last five books I’ve reviewed on this blog: Adaptation by Malinda Lo, Lucid by Ron Bass and Adrienne Stoltz, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, Chasing the Skip by Janci Patterson, and Passenger by Andrew Smith. Had I read all of these a few years ago, I would have had a very different reaction to each. I probably would have fallen in love with the eerie scientific elements of Adaptation, found something meaningful about (or at least be a lot less irked by) the open-ended conclusion in Lucid, liked the plot more than the writing or the world in The Shadow Society, been bored with the plot of Chasing the Skip, and been completely baffled by Passenger.

I guess what this has really driven home for me is exactly how subjective the act of reading is. While this is something that I have always known, it has never felt as real to me as it does now that I look back on how my own reading habits have changed. I think it’s only recently that I’ve fully been able to appreciate that while I dislike a book, someone else may really like it, and vice versa.

While I do mourn a little the simpler times when I could just pick up a book and be easily charmed, I can’t say that I regret how things have changed and that I’m a different kind of reader now than I was five years ago.

1 munch(es) :

Amie McCracken said...

I know exactly what you mean. It's funny how the books we read and enjoy seem to reflect a little bit of who we are.

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