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Christina Reads YA

"A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." --C.S. Lewis

My Reading Tastes & Experiences

Back in December, when my book club was getting gifts for each other for the holidays, one of the members said something like, "You were the only one who chose literary type books for your list!"

For the record, my list was:

"1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
2. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
3. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (Already read, but gave my copy to a friend, and basically I've just had it on my list to repurchase at some point).
4. The Book of Sand & Shakespeare's Memory by Jorge Luis Borges
5. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

 
If people find those too weird, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel or Earth Girl by Janet Edwards."

But she was not wrong. My reading tastes are... dissimilar to most bloggers, it seems.

I think the first way in which I feel kind of different from most YA bloggers is that I don't fangirl.
 
When I love a book, I'll post about it a few times. In round-ups, books to anticipate sort of lists. But when I think of fangirling, I think of... how to explain? SO MUCH EXCITEMENT (polandbananabooks, aka Christine, is awesome to watch & one of the first people I would think of). I do use all caps but then I'll record a video and I'll still sound like me, lower case. I don't think I'm really explaining what fangirling means to me very well, but examples of this remind me of the Throne of Glass fandomand the Lunar Chronicles fandom. I really like both books and series, but I'm not in love with them in the way of many other bloggers. Can I pinpoint a specific thing that separates my love for those books and my LOVE for the Queen's Thief series?
 
I don't know. But I also think that it's me and my personality too. I'm a pretty happy and easy to amuse person. My baseline is pretty happy. It would probably take A LOT for me to make me uber happy and fangirl in the way of Christine (my almost name-twin). That's not a bad thing - for either of us. Just a thing. And I might not have explained that well either *wrings hands*.
 
And anyway, this feeds into what books I choose to read. There are some books that are fairly popular in the blogosphere. These I avoid. The more popular a book, the more I kind of want to avoid it. It's not just the hype, it's that I've grown to distrust popularity as a reason to read a book. I know people will want to shame you -- oh, I can't believe you haven't read X and X yet -- and I'll say the same thing, but on a sliding scale of factors that are most important to me, reading the books that everyone else has ranks really, really low. More and more often I feel like there are so many books out there that I've missed out on because I've only been blogging since 2011 and YA books have been around for MANY more years, of course.
 
But the thing that makes me feel the weirdest as a blogger is how well my tastes align with Kirkus Reviews. When Sam of Realm of Fiction used to blog, we'd have pretty similar tastes. Maybe 75%? I think that sometimes our scale of how much we liked / disliked elements differed - so while I really liked The Bone Season, she was more middling about it. But Sam stopped blogging, and I no longer had her to compare books with. And I began to rely a lot on Kirkus, and buy more "literary" books.
 
It's really strange for a blogger to flat out admit to trusting a literary journal's perspective (and a little disturbing, given whatMalinda Lo highlighted about literary book reviews and diverse books; I sincerely hope those assumptions have not factored into my choice of books). I've seen many bloggers say that they don't understand why a book is so loved in literary journals. Often the books that get the most stars are the ones with the lowest ratings on Goodreads.
 
But, I don't always agree with them. Take the Made You Up review. Whoever reviewed MYU read it on a very surface level, in my opinion. I loved that book and the criticisms in that review made me really dumbfounded - like what and how did this happen? So about 90% of the time, I might agree with KR. Take the review for My Life Next Door. With that review I knew exactly what I was getting when I bought the book and I liked it just for that. It's always a combination of reading the Kirkus review, the synopsis for the book, an excerpt of the writing style, and sometimes other blogger reviews. But it always makes me feel a little guilty to look at Kirkus, because they're known to be the harshest literary journal and writers frequently complain about their Kirkus review. And thinking of the way I choose my books and what few bloggerly things I do (another post for another day) makes me feel less and less like a "true" blogger. Sometimes thinking about my reading tastes and how I choose what books to read makes me wonder whether my reviews are actually even helpful to the majority of the community. Would a teen even care about literary reviews?

Have you ever had moments when your reading tastes and experiences feel so different from the community's that you start to doubt yourself? How do you choose which books you read? Have you ever relied on literary journals or thought that your reading tastes were strange?