Like a lot of avid readers, I first fell in love with reading because of one specific book. Something about the way the story was told and the way characters where introduced and the problems they faced made me immediately fall in with reading. The first book that I fell in love with made me fall in love with YA.
Fast forward a few years, YA books became my solace. It’s what I read, what I related to, what I bought.
But it’s strange.
I’ve noticed that, in the past year or so, I’ve started reading a lot more general adult fiction. Those are the books that I’m reading, relating to, and buying. I’ll have a full month where I don’t read one YA book and then, like this month, YA books will be the only thing that I pick up.
Even though “they’re just books,” and not at all tied to who I am as a person, it’s difficult to realize that I’m starting to drift away from a genre that I considered my home.
But I’m here to say: the books that you read do not create your identity nor do they determine your value in any space, digital or physical.
As a reader, the books that you gravitate to seem to end up equating to a personality trait; they become a third arm in the way that you’re always carrying a book from your choice genre, you automatically go to that section of the bookstore, or it’s what you choose to verbally talk about or write about online. So, when we feel as if we are losing our love for whatever that genre is, it feels like we’re losing a part of ourself. It’s a rather dizzying thing to experience.
You begin to feel guilty for not loving the books that once stole your heart, even though there’s absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.
Think about it this way, whether you loved reading from the moment you were born or later on in your life, some book came across your way that made you fall in love with losing yourself in a book. Had you not picked up that first book, maybe you wouldn’t be the avid reader that you are today. So, simply said, you took a chance on that first book, and you can take a chance on other books too.
The book(s) that you read that turned you into the reader you are today didn’t decide your whole reading identity, it just simply built the foundation. That first book built your love of words, stories, characters, and far-away places, but it certainly did not back you into a box, limiting the types of books. that you can read.
It’s really easy to feel guilty when you don’t fall madly in love with the books you once called home, but sometimes you have to move.
Trust me, I get it, As a sixteen-year-old that hated reading, I found solace in YA books. Now, as a twenty-two-year-old reader, I’m having difficulty relating to the same experiences that I read about six years ago. I’ve started picking up horror books, general fiction books, biographies, and I’m falling in love with them the same way I fell in love with YA.
It’s not the love of a genre that owns a reader’s heart, it’s the escaping to a new world, learning something worthwhile, and reading in a perspective different from your own that makes a reader.
And, even if you find yourself disliking your favorite genre, it’s okay to take a step back. Nothing is permanent, and no one is telling you that you’re not allowed to go back to those books some day. They’ll always be there for you, should you chose.
I’m here to tell you are more than the books you read, and it’s perfectly natural to discover new lands, new world, new people that make you drift towards another genre.
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay.
I hope that you found some type of comfort in all of this and that you’ll feel less guilty reaching for a book outside of your usual reading zone. Who knows, maybe you’ll fall madly in love with a new genre that you can call home.
This post has been living in my mind for quite some time, and it took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to finally get it out there.
Like I said, I’ve been feeling a falling-out-of-love experience with YA books and after talking to a few of my friends, they’ve also been drifting away from their choice genres, making me realize that this could be a somewhat universal experience.
I’m not quite sure that I was able to perfectly get out all of my thoughts into words, but I do hope that this open letter does help some readers out there, because feeling guilty for not reading a book that you’re quote en quote “supposed to love” is genuinely a waste of time.
Loving to read is loving books and their ability to transport you, not loving one very specific genre.
Thank you for clicking on this post and taking time out of your day to read it; it means more to me than I could tell you. Especially because this post is a bit different than my usual, I’m happy that you still found it.
And I’m sending you all the biggest hugs should you ever find yourself falling out of love with your favorite books.