Last year was my first year as a Round 1 judge for the Cybils, and I think it contributed a lot to just a feeling of general reading fatigue. Aside from school, reading has never felt like a chore to me, but it got to be that way sometimes during Cybils season. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but I definitely read a lot more, a lot faster, and a lot of it was stuff that I didn’t much like.
I knew I’d need a switch in my reading habits for a while afterward to recover. What I didn’t count on was how long that switch would last. I don’t know if it’s permanent or not, but I haven’t been reading much YA speculative fiction at all this year. My hands aren’t itching for the sequel to the book I loved so much last year, and I’ve picked up stuff I’m usually guaranteed to like and set it back down almost immediately.
This is not to say I’ve stopped reading YA SFF completely. I still have several books in that category going at a time, but I don’t consume them at the rate that I used to, and often I’ll put off finishing the last 50 pages of a YA fantasy to instead start something else completely different. Below are the categories that I’ve been reading a lot more of lately – let’s just call 2015 (or at least the first half of 2015) the year of the audiobook and the romance novel.
I’m a fidgeter. I can’t just sit and watch a television show or movie, I also need to be doing something with my hands, like putting together a puzzle or playing Candy Crush. Sometimes when I’m reading a book, I’ll feel like I also need to be doing something with my hands, and holding up the book doesn’t cut it. Audiobooks fulfill this need so well, because I can listen to a book while also messing around on my phone or doing laundry. While I’ve listened to some YA on audio this year, most of my audiobook listening has been in the categories below.
I love romance novels for many, many reasons, but the primary one this year has been the guaranteed happily ever after. There’s a lot of changes (and potential changes on the horizon) happening in my life right now and I just don’t want stress from my fiction to contribute to stress in my reality. I read everything Courtney Milan has written that I could get my hands on, dove back into Julia Quinn, brushed up on Sarah MacLean, and gave Scribd a trial run so I could consume a bunch of other authors in short order. I’ve finally overcome my aversion to e-books thanks to my romance reading, since a lot of what I want to read is only available in e-formats. But I’ve also listened to a lot of romance on audio, which isn’t actually as awkward as I thought it would be. Though I do tend to put my headphones in when the sexy times happen. Even if no one’s around.
I’ve listened to some really heavy nonfiction, but most of it is narrative nonfiction, meaning that I can actually go and research what happened so I’m not surprised going into it. It removes the suspense, which may seem boring to some readers, but is really reassuring to me at this point in my life. I’ve read a lot about cults, including some memoirs of people who have escaped some really awful stuff. But that’s the important part: they’ve escaped it. I’ve also read some really fascinating science nonfiction that has enabled me to learn more about my world and myself. Most recently, I inhaled Emily Nagoski’s Come As You Are, which is a book about women’s sexuality. It’s awesome enough that it deserves its own blog post, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but if you are a woman and/or have sex with a woman, you should read it.
I’ve always loved the classic sort of mystery where an amateur sleuth solves a whodunnit, bonus points if there’s lots of humor (which is why I tend to stay away from mysteries featuring actual detectives or FBI agents or whatnot). Again, these sorts of stories provide a lot of comfort, much in the same way romances do: I know the sleuth will catch the bad guy by the end of the book. My Elizabeth Peters binge belongs in this category. I need an Amelia Peabody in my life.
OK, this one doesn’t really count. But I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Bob’s Burgers. I’m not saying Tina Belcher is my hero, but I’ve known since early this year that I’ll be dressing as her for Halloween.