07 April 2017

My Thoughts // Books Which Shaped Me

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I have been blogging for over three years. My blogoversary was last month and I didn’t do anything to celebrate (for shame, I know) but I wanted to mark it in some way. I’ve been sitting on this post for about a month because of that face. I could have written about what I’ve learnt during my time blogging but, to be honest, I’m still learning and what I do know everyone else has taught me so I don’t really feel comfortable relaying other people’s knowledge. Anyway, I decided instead to focus on books. I started this blog because I like reading and so I figure my three year blogoversary should be about books.

I have been reading since I was young and sure, sometimes I wasn’t as avid a reader as I am now, but I have been reading for as long as I can remember. I didn’t stop reading at secondary school or high school as many did. I didn’t get put off reading after you pass the mandatory ‘you will learn how to read’ years. In fact, I was encouraged to read by my nan who is wonderful and I am forever grateful to her. I want to look back on the books I remember most growing up and were the books I loved.

The books I remember most from when I was really young are simple. I adored the Dr Seuss Sleep Book. I read it all the time convinced it would put me to sleep (it didn’t, but try to read it without yawning). And that book was followed by longer books with fewer pictures. Books like The BFG and Matilda were my next port of call. Mostly I was reading books my nan gave me.

My nan can be attributed with a lot of my reading, to be honest. She was the reason I read Harry Potter (obviously this book was going to be included on here) and Harry Potter was probably the point I loved reading. At the same time as reading Harry Potter I also discovered Jacqueline Wilson's books. I was fully obsessed with her writing. She even did an author visit to my primary school but I had a music lesson scheduled at the same time as her visit and ended up missing seeing her! It was utterly unfair considering I was a girl who actually liked reading!

My memories of reading then get a bit fuzzy. I know I was in year 4 (so aged 8-9) when I was reading Harry Potter and and Jacqueline Wilson but I don’t remember much for a while. I read a lot of teen books as I got older and the next lot of books I remember distinctly growing up is the Fearless series by Francine Pascal. I was full on obsessed with that book series for a while, I never finished it (my library didn’t have all of the books) but I loved it for a long while. I then moved onto LJ Smith’s Secret Circle series and the Wicca series by Cate Tiernan. I went through a long phase of witches there. I loved the idea of witches and wanted to read all of the books which included them.

At around that time I was also becoming obsessed with contemporary books. I was much like I am now, I loved contemporary and fantasy and I loved a book best when there was a romance as well. I discovered two authors who I still love today. I discovered Meg Cabot and her Princess Diaries books and her Mediator series and her 1-800-Missing series. I began reading everything Cabot I could get my hands on. I read my first historical romance in the form of her YA books Nicola and the Viscount and Victoria and the Rogue but I didn’t actually discover my love for historical romance until I read some after I began blogging.

Once I discovered Meg Cabot it’s about the same time I learnt there was a teen section of books in my local book shop. I then read quite a few books which would now be classified as YA. I bought Guitar Girl by Sarra Manning (there was a girl with pink hair on the cover, I couldn’t not). And it was there I learnt I love a girl who likes music, but I don’t like boys in bands as much. I became a loyal reader of hers and she will feature again later on.

By the time I was fifteen I was finding myself growing out of YA (I thought so, anyway) but didn’t know where to turn next. I began to read whatever I could a hold of, in my case the books my mom was borrowing form the library. My mom was going through a phase of reading a whole heap of contemporary romance, most of it what would have been classified as chick-lit then. I discovered two very important authors. I discovered Sophie Kinsella and Jennifer Crusie. I adored Kinsella’s Can You Keep A Secret? (still do and it’s on my shelf, I should really reread). It’s where I learnt whilst miscommunication in romance can be frustrating it is also insanely fun. And Crusie’s Crazy for You and Bet Me where I learnt I have a thing for her writing and also for cocky men (ala Cal who is charming without trying) and oblivious men in denial (like Nick). Really, this is the point I should have known romance was my thing but it still took a few years.

Once I went to university I read a whole lot less. I began reading again when I turned 21. I got my first Kindle for my 21st birthday and I have no regrets. I’d forgotten what I enjoy to read before I got that Kindle. I bought a lot of different books and spent a long time learning what I enjoy to read after a three year reading break. I discovered Sarra Manning had published some adult romances and so I read those, still didn’t fully realise I enjoyed romance (I know, I was crazy) but I did learn I loved all the romances she had done so far. Those books are still some of my favourites.

I also discovered YA books with my new Kindle. I read The Hunger Games for the first time right before the first film came out and fell into a bit of a blackhole of YA dystopian. I read Matched and Delirium, I absolutely adored the Birthmarked series (I need to reread to see if it’s still as good as I think). And towards the end of 2012 I discovered an author I still love. I bought Daughter of Smoke and Bone for £3.35 and I had bought it simply because it was cheap and sounded vaguely interesting. It was actually Miss Peregrine’s which I’d really wanted to read. Turns out I was surprised by the book I wanted less.

I discovered book blogs during my time reading a whole heap of YA dystopian as I was determined to find more books to read. I didn’t follow them religiously but I did go to blogs to find new books. in 2013 I read less but I enjoyed far more of what I read. I read only 40 books (yeah, I know) but those books were Throne of Glass and Fangirl, Nowhere But Home and The Bone Season. They were mostly books I adored and still I was learning what I liked to read.

It was in 2014 which I started blogging and it was then I finally learnt romance was my thing. I drifted from YA contemporary to the romance genre (much like I did at 15). It was only when I became part of the blogging community I really learnt what I do and don’t like to read. I am glad I did and I am so glad I started blogging.

What I learnt from writing this post is I have basically loved romance ever since I started reading. It took me a long while to realise what I liked in reading but now I do it’s great. I mean, I love fantasy and I love a good mystery and I really love books that punch me in the feelings but romance. That will forever be my bread and butter. I don’t know why it took me so damn long to realise it. It’s amazing how my reading now has a lot of links back to my reading growing up. I still love books with witches in and I still love to get immersed in a series to binge read. But yeah, mostly I really love a book which features a good romance in it.

Have you looked back at your reading pre-blogging and seen how it is similar to your reading now? And has your reading changed as much as you think?

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