After college, I didn’t read anything for a while. I think I might have reread some Meg Cabot books right after I moved back home, but that was about it. And I was struggling, because I still identified as a reader. That’s who I’ve always been, and then I wasn’t. I didn’t read, I wasn’t in school, and I wasn’t motivated to go back to either. After maybe a year or so, I picked up a new book and read all 800+ pages of it in three days. I started to feel like myself again. Months later, I had a ton of new books to read, I had started grad school, and I started this blog.
Since there were a few books that were instrumental in getting me here, I thought it might be interesting to look back on them, and see if I still feel the same way about them.
11/22/63 by Stephen King. This is the aforementioned 800+ page book. It was a wonderful coincidence that I found out about this when it came out (because I was not paying attention to book news back then). My love of both history and English collided, and I convinced myself I had to read this on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death. I went to the bookstore that day, picked up a copy, and haven’t looked back. It’s been a while since I’ve read this book, but I still love it. Watching the series last year reminded me just how good it is. I love the combination of horror, history, and science fiction, and am so glad I picked this up when I did.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I had a brief love affair with The Mortal Instruments books, and binge-read them in a way that I hadn’t in years. I was back in my element, and I felt like a reader again. And then I got to book four, and, after two attempts, realized that this should have been a trilogy. I haven’t been able to make it through the rest of the series, I have no plans to read another Cassandra Clare book, and I am actually getting rid of these books (as soon as I get around to reorganizing my bookshelves). Why? I realized I didn’t actually like them. There are better books out there, and these just happened to be the first ones I jumped into. I’ve since flipped through them, and noticed how bad the writing is – something I wasn’t paying attention to during my first read (I once liked Twilight, too – it happens) – and just have absolutely no interest in them.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I am not exaggerating when I say that this book changed my life. I was not in a good place when I read this for the first time, and it really changed my perspective on a lot of things. It is also the book that motivated me to go to grad school – I literally put the book down, picked up my computer, and started researching writing programs. It made me finally do something big for myself, and I will be forever grateful. I just finished rereading it for the fifth time, and will continue coming back to it. Obviously, I love this book. Without it, I honestly have no idea what my life would look like now.
Divergent by Veronica Roth. When I first got back into reading, I was very into YA dystopian, and this is one of the books that I picked up first. It led me to Legend by Marie Lu (which I hated), which led me to Red Rising (which I blindly bought based on an Amazon recommendation before I’d even read Legend), and well… see above. I really enjoyed this when I first read it. Now, I feel kind of ‘meh’ about it. I don’t think it’s a bad book, and I’m grateful to it for where it led me, but I have no inclination to reread any of these books, and I actually unhauled this series a while ago.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This is the book that really got me back into historical fiction, and reminded me how much I enjoy books that fit into more than one genre. This is also one of the very first audiobooks I read, and I loved it. Listening to this book was magical. I am planning on rereading it this year (before the sequel is released), and I am curious to see what I think of it now. I can’t say my opinion has changed much since I read it, but who knows?
1984 by George Orwell. Despite having taken several literature courses in college and enjoying many of the books, I could never get into classics the way I wanted to. This book changed that. It made me want to read more challenging books, and made me more confident in my ability to interpret them (sounds silly, I know, but it took me until grad school to be confident in my reading skills). It also opened my mind in a great way, and reminded me to what books can do. I still love this, and have slowly started collecting different editions.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Still my favorite Gaiman book, and one of my all-time favorite novels, this is the book that reintroduced me to fantasy (one of my favorite genres as a child). But more than that, this book further inspired me to write and to work on improving my own writing. Both the story and the writing itself are absolutely magical, and every time I read this I feel like I can do anything.
Have you ever gone through an extended period where you didn’t read? What got you back into it?