I've been thinking about writing this post for a long time, and I've been struggling with what exactly I want to say with it. For the last close to three years now, I've been reading YA nonstop, writing reviews, and engaging with the community. It's been an amazing experience, and I've read books that have captured my whole heart. I still love reading YA, talking with the authors who write it, and writing it myself and I plan to for a super long time. I think I'll always be a part of the YA community. This is starting to sound like a weird farewell post... which it's not. Instead, this post is about change and growing and getting older because, in the end, isn't that what YA and being a YA is all about?
So here's the honest truth. I've talked to some amazing authors over the last month and had a lot of fun content for you guys, but I've sort of been scrambling to give you new things every single week because I haven't read a single YA book all month. I never thought I'd say that, especially at this point in my life where it revolves so much around books, but that's part of the problem. It's not that I didn't love the last YA I read. It was one of my favorite books of the year. And I have been reading. I've been exploring tons of nonfiction titles which has been a complete adventure in itself, but I found myself really grappling with burnout all month long.
During my little breather from fiction, I started grabbing some nonfiction titles that caught my eye. I read Coming of Age on Zoloft at the start of the month which was a fascinating deep dive into prescription drugs to treat depression and anxiety and its scientific background, social perception among those who started them young, and the political side I'd never really seen. As it was largely focused on its impact on teens and its focus on mental health, it fit my interests perfectly and took me completely by surprise. It was only a few months ago when I scanned around the bookstore and wondered how I'd ever decide it was time to leave the YA section exclusively. From there, I ventured further into nonfiction picking up Malcom Gladwell's bestseller, Talking To Strangers. I can't recommend it highly enough. I was fascinated by all the little anecdotes that built to form the larger point that we have no clue what other people are thinking. As someone who writes and spends a large portion of time trying to understand people to get better at my craft, it's a pretty terrifying notion. For my last plane ride, I downloaded Elton John's new autobiography as an audiobook. I haven't quite finished it, but even as someone who had minimal Elton John knowledge going in, the book has been a complete delight to listen to. I've gathered together a TBR with books about prescription drug companies, music, the multiverse theory, quantum physics, and the science of why we age. I'm reading about things I never imagined I'd voluntarily read about a few months ago.
Part of it, I think, is that I've been out of school for five months now and my complete hunger for knowledge is starting to kick in again, and, on the other side, it's a break from what I've felt inundated with. Reading these books felt like I was stealing time. Like I was doing something I wasn't supposed to be doing. It's ridiculous, I know, but it takes so much of my time to read the advanced copies I get sent and keep track of making sure I read things on the right schedule for tours and set posts that this hobby feels like a full time job most of the time.
While I thought October was going to be a month of scrounging up all the murder mysteries and thrillers I didn't get to last year, it was instead about the thrill of self discovery. Of discovering new interests. Of telling myself it was okay to take a breather. I honestly needed room to explore the other things I love with as much time and energy as I've thrown into books and writing since I was an 8th grader. I've been playing piano a lot more and really pushed myself with music. I've tried new writing forms. I've read books that delve into all the topics I desperately wanted to learn about in school. I have the chance this year to pave my own self education, and I needed to remind myself not to miss it. That also sparked starting my podcast, The Empathy Factor, that I loved dearly. Allowing myself new creative outlets has slashed the full days I used to devote to blog work in half, but it's what I need to keep growing. Honestly, taking a little time away from the YA world has made me feel more refreshed with reading new books and creating content.
Even though I'm only 16, I'm starting to feel like YA might not be completely my place anymore. I'm now past a lot of the high school experiences and worries that most YA protagonists face since I graduated high school. While some books, like Permanent Record, recently, hit all the pieces I've been searching for in my fiction, giving me glimpses into the future, there's not a ton like it out there, whether you're looking in YA or adult. While I'm still dedicated to sharing teen stories, the ones about experiences I can relate to are getting slimmer, and I'm glad that I've found other genres to land in the future and to diversify my reading with as time goes on.
I did pick up a new YA over the weekend, Tweet Cute, and I can't wait to dive into it more. I also can't wait for so many books I haven't gotten around to yet like Let's Call It a Doomsday. And I've gotten the opportunity to create some of my most exciting posts lately like doing the cover reveal for Erin Hahn's new book that I'm dying to read, More Than Maybe, and chatting with some of my favorite authors. So I'm by no means abandoning reading, YA, or the blog, but I am letting myself follow the different paths I see in front of me. I guess I'm starting to grow up, and I've been struggling and feeling really guilty about branching out a little more and feeling a bit differently about a genre that I love and should still very much be the target demographic of.
As I've written this, I've come to make peace with my tastes starting to shift a bit. And I'm sure I'm not alone. What are your experiences with shifting taste and reading new genres? Is there a new category you're dying to get into? Is there a new hobby that you're giving yourself permission to explore? Let me know in the comments because first and foremost, this blog and my platform is all about being open with each other and realizing that we're in no way the only ones going through our experiences.
Links of Interest:
Into YA with Ronni Davis: Here
When the Stars Lead To You: Review Here
Looking For Alaska on Hulu: Here
Into YA with James Brandon: Here