I had a comment recently from someone who had been looking at my blog who asked me why I read ‘so much trash’ because I was (apparently) ‘so much smarter than that’. It got me thinking why I read what I read. I know that there’s no definition of ‘trash’ in reading. I firmly believe that you should read whatever you want, whether it be dinosaur erotica, scientific journals or manga. It doesn’t matter what you read, simply reading something is a great thing. You should celebrate that, not be disparaged.
My short answer to that person was, “I read what I want” because I didn’t want to argue at the time. I really just wanted to have something to eat in relative peace.
Those of you who visit Sam Still Reading will know that there are a wide variety of books that I read. I’ve read erotica. I’ve read science, political, biology non-fiction and memoirs, biographies and travelogues. I’ve read YA, general fiction, literary fiction, women’s fiction, romance fiction, science fiction…loads of fiction. I’m not here to tick off a list (although I love making and completing lists), I’m here to share with you what I read.
My reading depends on a number of factors. Yes, I do get sent books for review. 99% of them are things I like and another 0.5% are books that extend on my tastes and reading boundaries. I also buy quite a lot of books – authors I like, new releases that come recommended by others (by friends, family, booksellers, Twitter buddies or the internet) and ones that just look interesting. I follow a number of book prize longlists (the Bailey’s Prize is still my favourite – this year’s list is one of their best). So there’s no shortage of books to read at my place or from the library.
If I am really busy with work, study or socialising I tend to pick something ‘lighter’. I want something that won’t quite keep me up all night and that I can easily remember the plot of when it’s 10pm and I’m settling in to finally read something before falling asleep. Something light doesn’t necessarily mean romance. It’s probably better defined as a comfort read. When I know that I’ll have more spare time for reading, I’ll tend to pick up something that will consume me (like a novel by Rachael Johns, Penny Vincenzi or Elena Ferrante to name a few) so I can devote all my waking hours to it. Your all-consuming reads are likely to be different. That’s great. That’s what makes us different.
This isn’t a fail-safe method. Sometimes a book won’t turn out to be what I’ve classified it as before reading a page. Sometimes I don’t feel like reading fiction. Sometimes I just want a short story.
I don’t read to be smart. I read for happiness, which for me comes in many different forms. Nothing is trash if you love it.