How do we differ from other bookworms? We may have a very different reading experience than most people, based partly on how we perceive emotions, partly on our personal triggers, and on our preferences for taking in information.
Take yours truly as Exhibit A. I generally don’t read romances, because I simply don’t have a very romantic nature. (Yes, you may think of me as Spock. I consider that a compliment.) I gave up reading murder mysteries because a) oh, the boring and predictable formula, and b) all the yucky gross crime scene/scientific details. (Science has too many big words and concepts that I only partially grasp; and I pass out when I scrape my knee, so hearing all the nitty-gritty on someone else’s murder is just no.)
My favorite genres are fantasy and history, and I definitely prefer YA. This is for several reasons — too much explicit language and/or sexual content makes my skin crawl (in a very bad way). So I pretty much gave up reading adult fiction about 3 years ago. (I’ll make an exception for nonfiction if it’s a subject I’m really interested in.) Also apparently a lot of adults enjoy reading about relationships and jobs, neither of which I am an ace at, not in the traditional sense. The non-relatability becomes a major downer.
Given that a whole bunch of the world doesn’t think the same way I do, it’s kind of hard to find characters that I can really feel something for, beyond just enjoying their story. There are a few masters of the written word who have produced this in me — Terry Pratchett and Erin Hunter. To give you an idea of what percentage Vulcan I am: I did not cry at the end of The Book Thief, The Raven King, Mockingjay, Allegiant, or A Monster Calls. (I did at least have a lump in my throat, don’t worry, I’m not Khan.) But I will sob actual, messy tears without fail during the climatic scenes of Mort, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Thud!, and The Last Hope. After finishing Forest of Secrets (Warriors: The Prophecies Begin), I literally could not sleep. (See, I am not a robot.)
I have very little patience for characters whose motivations I cannot understand. If they’re breaking a law out of complete choice, not because there’s no other way to accomplish what they need to do, then I probably won’t finish the book. If they’re too caught up on their crush, when there are so many other nice things in the world waiting for them, I probably won’t like the book. If they make a choice I would never make, then even if it fits the story, I’ll determine I don’t like that character, and often not that author.
I don’t do well with really long paragraphs full of incredibly descriptive big words — that all could amount to, “Andrew walked into the kitchen, opened a cabinet, and took out a glass.” My brain simply doesn’t comprehend the point of writing this way, nor can I truly imagine all of this stuff. That’s why I like the movie versions, because then I can really visualize what a Hobbit-hole is, or a dais, or just how much treasure Smog is hoarding.
(Yes, I have an IQ of 142, but I can’t whistle or figure out how to use the lawnmower, or determine just what color “puce” is. We all have our flaws.)
So I greatly prefer simplified writing styles, which are most often found in MG-YA novels, since middle-schoolers aren’t expected to know what the word “iridescent” means, or just how a political conspiracy works. And although there’s now the controversy about too many NA novels being labeled YA, I’m mature enough to decide for myself whether I want to read those selections or not. (Most of the time I choose not.)
And I don’t like literary analysis. It was the major reason I decided not to major in English. I can totally do, “In The Scorpio Races, Puck is worried about her older brother going to the mainland because they’re already orphans, and she’ll feel that she’ll lose him, too, if he leaves the island.” I cannot do, “In The Wednesday Wars, there are several allegories that correspond the Vietnam War directly to rites of passage made by ordinary teenagers.” (White Fang and I read that for a book club, and neither of us got it.)
Before I read a book, I have to hunt down spoilers, because I need to know if there’s anything in it that will set off my triggers. (Among them: gory violence, violence against animals, too much swearing, graphic bedroom scenes, descriptions of surgeries, reptiles featuring prominently, and scenes written from the viewpoint of a drug-induced hallucination.) It’s a bit time-consuming, but worth it, if I can avoid being majorly scarred for a few months afterwards. (Yes, months. One word — Mockingjay.)
For those of you wondering if all of this doesn’t mean I really limit what I read — well, yeah, to a degree, I do. But I am totally okay with that. Having less choices helps cut down on the possibility for overstimulation. And staying in my comfort zone is a must 90% of my life.
So, if you happen to know of some great kids’ authors, pass on the recommendations.