It’s Grace, and I’m in a reading slump.
Basically, I haven’t felt like reading lately, and it’s been really throwing me off. First of all, I finally have time to get the blog back up and running at a regular pace – with the exception of AP testing this week and next – so I should be taking advantage of it. But sitting down to actually write reviews or lists? I can’t really do that because I’ve only read thirty books this year, half of which were out of genre.
On my Twitter, I still have the luxury of tweeting about books I’ve read previously, building buzz for books I’m excited about (which I can do with Waiting on Wednesday features on here), and talking about trends in publishing generally.
Being in a reading slump is weird for me. It’s funny because I was actually in one last year in the spring. Part of it might be due to being conditioned to prioritize calculus or lacrosse around this time? I’m not exactly sure.
I have a few theories.
1. I’m a little tired of reading about teenagers right now.
I know. I’m a YA gal – I live and breathe for this genre, for representation, for the literary risks that are only capable in such an age group. But senior year has been really mentally taxing, and I’ve been longing for a break. I don’t necessarily want to read about romance or college applications or fascinating friendships because quite frankly, I have enough of that in my day-to-day at the moment. Seriously, my life recently has just been begging to be written into something. Literature is primarily a form of escapism, and I haven’t wanted to lose myself in books that read like familiar experiences.
I’m worried about it, to be honest.
One concern of mine is that perhaps my taste might be changing. The books I’ve been able to get into lately have been adult reads. Me Before You made me bawl my eyes out and In a Dark, Dark Wood was refreshingly sinister.
I don’t think taste is the issue simply because I still get so excited about reading about teenagers. There’s a luminosity of sorts that’s present in the teenage experience – and its idealization, if the book veers on cliché. What’s more, there’s a place for both “literary” realism and the glorification/commercialization of certain experiences, because there’s a market for both thanks to both adolescents and adults who read the genre.
Words Like Silver has been and always will be primarily a young adult book review blog. I’ve delved into middle grade features and I’ve definitely displayed adult reads on here. But at the root of it, WLS exists for me to gush about YA books that I love. I do think that when I – inevitably – work in book publishing, I’ll want to work for a YA imprint or department.
2. Books this year have been long.
Fantasy has been a major trend of 2015 and 2016. Not just urban fantasy, either. Elaborate worlds, 500+ page sequels, and intricate subplots have been the name of the game. I can appreciate a heart-pounding book about courts and dragons and swords as much as the next person, but I don’t quite have the stamina to power through it (or the time.) Because there’s such an intimate element to these types of books, they aren’t the type you can really put down and pick up at your own leisure, the way you might with a contemporary or paranormal pick. Instead, they’re a commitment – which doesn’t work for me when I only get reading time in bits and pieces. Plus, very few of them have been attention-grabbing enough for me to find them worthwhile for right now. I’m waiting until the summer to devour some fantasies I’ve been eyeing at Barnes and Noble. For now, I’m just in the mood to tear my way through some quick contemporaries or flashy New York Times bestsellers.
3. AP Lit and book club have taken over my life.
During and after lacrosse season, I’d be reading two books in my AP Literature class and one book for monthly teen book club at Oxford Exchange. I loved those books – except for Catch-22, which wasn’t up my alley. It’s nice to always be obligated to read specific books to which I wouldn’t normally be exposed, but it definitely cuts down on the amount of time I have for books I’d like to read. Furthermore, when I’m reading in an academic sense – for a class, or for book club discussion – it’s a different experience than books I read for pleasure. I’m looking for patterns and themes, trying to understand purpose and technique in a way that makes it meaningful to the discussion at hand.
4. I have book hangovers.
I like to tell people that I look for books that will make me cry. I’m a crier. I cry when I’m happy; I cry when I’m sad. So using that as a basis for what I read seems like a nice way to summarize the way I look for books that will pull me in, make me feel powerfully about characters or subjects. I read The Wrath and the Dawn back in February, and I read Me Before You last month, and both sincerely impacted me. I didn’t want to start new books and force them to live up to my unrealistic, reverberating expectations.
My name is Grace Smith, and I’m in a reading slump.