Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Does the Genre You’re Reading Change the Medium You Read In?

Kit Steinkellner

Staff Writer

Kit Steinkellner is a playwright, screenwriter, and creative writing teacher. She also writes about books and reading  at Books Are My Boyfriends. Follow her onTwitter: @BooksAreMyBFs

I realized recently that I read all my YA books on my phone.

YA is usually an impulse buy for me. I decide I want to know who the heck this John Green guy is anyway or want to get my Harry Potter/Hunger Games fix on with one of their many fantasy/dystopian cousins. When I decide I want to read a particular YA book, I want to start reading it in the next, like, minute. I don’t want to wait the better part of an hour to drive back and forth from the bookstore, and I definitely don’t want to wait three weeks to get off the library holds list, so I get on my iPhone and I’m reading about wizard-zombie teens falling in post-apocalyptic love within a minute.

But this isn’t how I read all books! For my adult literary fiction, I have an ever-growing list in my head and every time I go to the bookstore I let myself buy one (okay, sometimes three or four) of the books on the list. I can wait for my Alice Munro and my Louise Erdrich. Part of the fun is in the waiting. And I wouldn’t want to read these books on my phone or even my iPad. I like reading them in hard copy, I like lending the physical copies to my friends, I like seeing them on my shelves for years after.

Meanwhile, I really like reading my nonfiction via audiobook. I think spending hours upon hours listening to NPR while stuck in the car stuck in Los Angeles freeway traffic (also known as the longest and skinniest parking lots in the world) has taught me that as long as you’re moving two miles an hour, you might as well be filling your head with newsy anecdotes you can pull out at parties when talking about yourself starts to get boring (which it always does if you’re a normal non-meglomaniacal person).

I also always listen to mysteries on audiobook. I can’t explain this one at all. I do think The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl work like gangbusters as quasi-radio plays, so maybe this is just me longing for the days of yore when families would sit around the fireplace dressed like people from old Coca-Cola ads listening to mysteries on a radio that looks like The Radio from Brave Little Toaster. Go know.

This isn’t to say any of these rules are hard and fast. For my birthday this year, my mom, knowing that I’d be traveling shortly after, got me the books on my list on ebook so I could read while traveling, which meant that I read books like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Glaciers, super-literary books I would normally read in paper, on my iPad screen. Likewise, I will occasionally listen to literary books on audiobook. This is how I read We Need to Talk About Kevin, Where’d You Go Bernadette?, and A Visit From The Goon Squad (this last one was a complete medium-goof, I totally did not get how weirdsville and wonderful the Powerpoint chapter was until I flipped through it at a bookstore. This book should not even be offered in audiobook because that chapter is so cool in print).

So that’s me in a genre/medium nutshell. What about you guys? Do you read EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR BOOKS in the same medium? Or are you like me, does the genre influence (or even dictate) the medium you read in, and if so how? Or do you just spin a wheel that hangs on the back of your closet door to decide whether your next buy is going to be audio, paper, ebook, or a secret medium no one else knows about. Spill!