Changing Reading Tastes

Posted April 9, 2016 by Nikki Wang in Discussion/Fun, Features / 4 Comments

changingreading tastes

Here’s the thing: when I first started reading YA, I was ten. When I first started this blog, I was 11-almost-12. It’s been more than 4 years since this website has started, and there have been hundreds upon hundreds of books read and reviewed since. And my reading tastes have changed a lot since then.

When I was thirteen years old, I attempted one of my first hard-subject books that wasn’t about depression or anxiety. It was about OCD. And frankly, I hated it. Everyone else loved it, but I couldn’t see why. The character irritated me and she acted rash and compulsively–that’s what I remember thinking. Except that’s kind of stupid, isn’t it? It was a story about a girl with OCD. And it made me uncomfortable. And I didn’t like that. When I wrote all my complaints in my review, there were a couple of people who commented on my review–wondering why the hell I would pick this up if the OCD aspects bothered me when it said OCD in the title. (OCD Love Story)

They had a point. But good luck trying to tell my thirteen year old brain that.

They were a little ruder than they had to be, but they had a point. I figured that I just wasn’t the type of person to read those kind of hard hitting topics, shrugged and moved on with my life.

wwcBut those types of books are hard to avoid sometimes because hard topics are kind of the trademark of Young Adult novels. Teens deal with depression and anxiety and OCD and bipolar disorders and eating disorders and everything in between. We’re temperamental, we’re emotional, and authors get that. So I read them, but I could never say that characters irritated me. They made me sad sometimes, and I cried as I read, but. It wasn’t the same as when I read OCD Love Story.
A couple months ago, I read When We Collided. I got the exact same feelings I did when I’d read OCD Love Story way back in 2013 (or 2012? ARCs make it hard to remember). The main character (Vivi) angered me–too reckless, too selfish, too oblivious, too everything. But I read on, and when I finished I realized that despite all her flaws, Vivi was beautifully written. Her disorder may have made the story hard to read, but this time I appreciated it in the story rather than loathing it. It was a difficult book to understand and to love, but that was exactly why this book was so important.

And I finally appreciated that.

I’m rethinking this post title because maybe it should’ve been called “How Books Changed Me” because honestly, that’s what happened.

4 responses to “Changing Reading Tastes

  1. I’m not big on YA contemporary novels, but this post is beautiful. I remember reading The Tyrant’s Daughter a year or two ago and it was probably the most conflicting novel I’ve ever read. The main character is from the Middle East and afraid of American (I think she dealt with the CIA? I can’t remember for sure though), but she and what remains of her family are suddenly in America. I was so involved with the MC’s story but I’m American right? I felt like I should be aligned with them but I couldn’t, not in this story. I couldn’t align with the MC either, but it made me realize how Americans are the “bad guys” for some people. I understood that before but the book really made me understand that perspective in a way I never did before. Books change people and that’s what I love about your blog post.

  2. I definitely see the trend of mental health and all that. There’s actually been a few other discussions on the “John Green Effect,” essentially, the more sophisticated and a bit darker side of YA literature. I’m sad that you didn’t like the main character of When We Collided, but not every book is for everyone! I know some trends that I’m not interested in or I feel that I’m growing out of, but also see where you are coming from–maybe growing INTO books. I experience that when I reread books, especially ones I previously DNFed.

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