Diary of a Bookseller #23
Just when I think I know myself and what I like to read, my habits and interests decide to take a complete turn. For the last five years or so, I’ve read predominantly nonfiction with little interest in fiction and I’ve been trying to figure out why, particularly as I presently want absolutely nothing to do with nonfiction and only want to read fiction. While I have some idea what has happened, it has astonished me how quickly my interests can change.
As I think back on my life in books, there has been only one constant since I was a small child – history. I’ve been fascinated by the past for as long as I can remember and it was Magic Tree House and American Girl and Dear America books that I loved most when I first started reading on my own. I loved classics set in the early 20th century like Peter Pan and The Secret Garden and pirates. Always pirates. And magical historical realism. But this history aspect was always there. Oddly, it was not history books that got me into nonfiction, per se, but they kept me there for quite some time.
From biographies of rebellious women to science history books, I sank my teeth into every book that also had even the smallest hint of feminism to them. As the world has turned harsh and cruel since the start of the pandemic, and it certainly has been awful since the mid-2010s, I’ve found myself avoiding nonfiction as it is too rooted in the real world and not escapist enough. This has, of course, posed a bit of a conundrum for me, as I am the moderator of Nonfiction Book Club.
But it became clear in October that I wasn’t the only one feeling burnt out on nonfiction, a number of us in Nonfiction Book Club had turned to fiction, good old fashioned escaped fiction, to avoid dealing with any more of that pesky reality that we’ve all been trying so hard to avoid. In September, I had read so much romance and what I call my mid-century feminist cozy fiction that I was in no mind to continue with nonfiction. Even when the highly anticipated The Correspondents landed on my desk (about female journalists in the first half of the twentieth century), I couldn’t even muster the enthusiasm to listen to it, let alone read the physical copy.
So what do I read now? Historical feminist romances. Yep. That’s all I want to read. It’s pretty much as far from what I was reading nonfiction wise before that one can get. But you know what? It’s what makes me happy right now. I always said I would never judge what another person reads, I would only judge them for not reading, and even then, only as a joke. Read what makes you happy. Life’s too short to read solely to impress others with your TBR or annual book list. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of reading because you think you should be reading something meatier or more academic or what have you. It’s been such a thrill to go back to reading what initially made reading fun for me.