Our Reading Lives

On Straying From YA and Discovering Nonfiction

This is a guest post from Zoe Strickland. Zoe is a writer, editor, and caffeine-addict living in Oregon. She likes wine, pop culture, space, and tattoos. She’s one of those ‘loud feminists’ and wouldn’t have it any other way. Follow her on Twitter @zoealea.

book piles

Nine years ago, when I was twelve, I started blogging about YA books. A few years ago, the book blog was thrown by the wayside as I made room in my life for other things like college and a “real job.” When I was deciding to let the blog go, I justified the decision by telling myself that I would still hold true to the books that started me on the blogging journey. YA had been with me since before I was technically allowed to read it, so why would it stop now?

What I failed to recognize was that though YA had carried me through my pre-teens and into adulthood, reading tastes are still susceptible to change.

Over the past year, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that though I still love the genre, YA can’t be what I need it to be. Instead, I’ve put away my Stephanie Perkins books and have switched them out for genres that feel more true to who I am in this moment. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a special place in my heart for YA. I love the people who write it, I love editing it, and I have a quote from a YA book tattooed on me. But more than anything, this situation has forced me to deal with an amount of grief that I wasn’t anticipating: the grief associated with seeing other book genres.

As a whole, I’m a pretty monogamous book reader. When I find a genre, I stick to it. Up until this past year, I read YA in general and romance when I was stressed. Now I read a lot more nonfiction (primarily nonfiction that focuses on feminism, gender, and sexuality), but I still read romance when I’m stressed.

This idea of leaving a genre that I love so much was, and still is, a bit daunting. There are days when I miss the heavy association of being a “YA Reader,” but there are far more days when I’m happy to have branched out. Branching out and seeing other genres allows you to experience new things- especially when you make the switch from reading primarily fiction to reading primarily nonfiction. I’ve realized that nothing is lost by diversifying the books you read. Though I miss the genre I’ve strayed from, part of it could be misplaced longing for the person I was when I read YA books. But the great thing about literature is that it’s always there for you when you need it, regardless of your age or what you want to like.

Sticking with just one genre is comforting; you get familiar with the books and the authors, and it feels like home. But I’ve learned that jumping into new genres can be equally as beneficial. It’s not easy to “break-up” with genres you’ve spent years reading, but it can definitely teach you to open up to more reading experiences.