What I’ve learnt from a year without books

Back in March, when I declared this blog on hiatus, I ended with a quote from the fabulously outrageous, Oscar Wilde, who once said:

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

At the time, I quoted this because somewhere along the way I felt like I had stopped reading what I wanted to read, and instead was reading what I felt I should read. I loved blogging and being part of the blogging community, but I felt that if I didn’t read the new releases, and keep up with what everyone else was reading, that I’d somehow fall out of that circle.

Now, however, that quote has a whole new meaning for me, because over the past year, during the moments when I would’ve previously been forcing myself through a book I knew wasn’t my cup of tea, I’ve found myself with the desire to read things I never thought I’d want to read.

Most notably, non-fiction, I used to never read non-fiction, it just didn’t interest me; why read something about this world, when this world is a total mess?!

But whilst not reading this year, I’ve discovered a whole new desire for knowledge. I’m 28, I’ve been out of mainstream education for nearly six years, and yet I’ve never been more desperate to learn. Learn about the world beyond what the news tells us. Learn about how people live, and how people have lived, in places I can’t even point to on a map.

We live in a time when our world is closer than ever, yet sometimes it feels like we’ve never been farther apart. How did we get here? And where do we go next? I want to know these things and it was only in not spending my time reading the books I thought I was supposed to read, that I discovered this new found yearning to learn.

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I’ve also realised something else, something which makes me sad, but also excited at the same time.

I think, maybe, I’m growing out of YA. Actually, “growing out of” is the wrong phrase, maybe “growing into” other genres is a better way of putting it, because I still love the variety and nuance of YA, I still believe it’s the most unpredictable genre out there, and that other genres need to embrace that if they’re going to keep up with the seemingly boundless imaginations of YA authors, but I also find myself wanting to read about people my age.

I came to YA late, I was in my early-20s before the genre really became the behemoth we’re now used to, but I embraced it because I’d never had those stories when I was in my teens, and had always yearned for them. I clung on to that, perhaps for too long, because I was struggling with my own stuff, and didn’t feel ready to let go of the child in me. Now, though, I need stories that someone closer to 30 can resonate with, and whilst I will inevitably still dip in and out of YA, I want to find out what else is out there.

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So what does this mean for this blog?

Essentially, nothing. It’s still going to be here, and yes, I’m actually going to be writing it again, because that desire has come back as well, but it’s going to be different. It’s probably going to be more varied in content; it’ll still be primarily book-related, but I often find myself wanting to talk about other stuff as well – the real life stuff that isn’t always pretty – so expect some of that from time to time. Most of all, I want to write stuff that I would want to read; I’m tired of writing pieces that have no heart, that feel like anyone could’ve written them. We all have our own voice, and I think I finally understand where mine is coming through, so I’m going to embrace it.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

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