Confessions of an Addict [#21]: Quality Reads

Do you ever find yourself visiting another book blog, then somehow leave feeling like the books you’ve been reading are a joke? Not because they’re badly written but you feel like you haven’t gained anything of substance from the hundreds of books that you’ve read? Do you ever feel inadequate?

I have those days. 
I’ve found a reader on Instagram whose choices simply blow me away. She started a blog but she hasn’t updated in a while. From the few reviews that she’d posted, I can tell how intelligent this reader really is. I was a little shock (star struck was more like it) when she followed me on Instagram. And to be honest, I felt a little intimidated at first. 
You know how they tell you that you shouldn’t feel embarrassed for the books that you chose to read? Yeah. I keep telling myself that. But somedays, I feel so inferior – especially when I see what she’s read, what she recommends, and how she interacts with her followers. This girl can write a very detailed, unbiased, smart book recommendations on the tiny screen of her phone without flinching.  I can guarantee you that she’s read at least one or two books on the annual Booker list or maybe even Printz. 
Through her, I also found this man: A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook, who reads literature like I read Erotica. You want to talk about a well-read person? Matt is the guy. He’s got a no-frills blog, with incomparable book reviews that make me feel such a hack.

Last Saturday, when I was at my bookstore, I spent most of my time browsing than picking up anything. I found myself just over thinking which books I should purchase. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty for being stuck on a certain genre, but sometimes, I get this overwhelming feeling of inadequacy.

I know I shouldn’t compare myself to anyone, but do you ever feel like reading should be more than just being entertained?

Sometimes, reading bad books make me feel like I’ve just had dirty sex with an unknown person. It left me satisfied, sure. But I feel completely empty afterwards.

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone is thinking.” – Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

  • Read what makes u happy if what I read was based on intelligence my brain would be consumed with smut lol sometimes I don't want to think I want to escape.

  • lol! I agree with this post, Joy. <3 Thank you for sharing and being so honest. You are awesome. When I read books I do feel like I gained something. Kind of. Probably. Well, if I loved it. But then, when a lot of time has passed, I forget a lot of the book :p Which kind of sucks. Hmm.

  • Thanks, Jeann. To each to their own and such, but I love their candid, and well-written reviews for books that are not nearly in my radar at all.

  • Interesting post Joy, isn't it amazing how we can discover new people and other readers through social media? I think reading should be for enjoyment and if you like reading erotica or YA, so be it. You shouldn't be intimidated by what others read for their enjoyment, there is no better genre out there.

  • I also think reading those thought-provoking books are far beneficial. But at the same time, reading books – good or bad – comes with benefits on their own.

    Thanks for your input, Melliane!

  • it's always wonderful to find readers like that. And you're right I think for the most part I read books without even thinking how it will be. Maybe I should think sometimes.

  • Jen and Matt are readers that I find inspiring. Because they're able to find enjoyment in books that tackle so much more than every day life drama. I love their enthusiasm about the books they read regardless on whether or not they liked them. I just think that if I so ever chose to read something completely out of my comfort zone, their the ones I can turn to for recommendations.

    Thanks, Rachel!

  • That's another thing that I find wholly intimidating about reading Literary fiction; I feel so awkward and out of my elements when I try to review a book from that genre. It's just scary, sometimes. Classic Literature is something that I've missed entirely. Reading those books takes finesse and a lot more concentration than usual.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christy. 🙂

  • No one could really tell anyone what to read (unless of course, if you're a lit teacher and I'm your student). But the world of books is so vast that I can't help but feel there's a whole entire universe outside of YA. 🙂

    And yes, I think sometimes, we shouldn't be afraid to read something we're not at all used to reading.

    Thanks, Marianne!

  • Reading is, at the foremost subjective. So yes, no one can force anyone to read anything they don't like. I guess the point of my post is to highlight a couple of well-read readers that I find truly inspiring.

    Thanks for your input, Shannon.

  • I don't feel guilty whatsoever, Joy! I have to do enough things in life that I don't want to do and I'm not adding reading to it, which is what would happen if I started reading things because I felt pressured to read things with more substance. Reading is my happy, my entertainment, and it takes me to different places, worlds and lightens my moods. I hope those people you've mentioned are getting as much enjoyment from their reading as I am from mine, because if they're not the jokes on them. 🙂

  • No, I don't feel bad or anything. I've always read some fun fiction books, but I was also obsessed with non-fiction and “smart” books. It wasn't until 2011 that I started reading so much “fluff” and enjoying it. I still read Literary fiction, but I don't usually review or share my thoughts on it. I mean, I don't look at people who read a shit-ton of erotica any differently than I do someone who reads all classic literature. I like to get recommendations from both! 🙂

  • I sometimes think that I read too many YA books. I see other blogs (such as yours) and they have this wide variety of books, and I'm left thinking “should I change my reading tastes”? I think it's not a bad thing to not read as many books as someone else. I think we should only read what we WANT to, because if not we might lose interest in reading; and that's definitely a bad thing!
    Great post! It really got me thinking.
    -Marianne

  • This is very interesting. I find myself feeling the same way sometimes. I try to remember that life is too short to be bored. I choose books that excite me in some way. It may the cool literary thing to read certain things but why force myself to read something I am just not interested in? Then reading becomes something that I force myself to do instead of something I enjoy. I do however think that it is a good idea to jump outside our usual genres on occasion, you never know what is out there that you might love if only you have it a chance!

  • I agree, Patrick. We are our own persons. We shouldn't let anybody else dictate who or what we like. But at the same time, finding Jen and Matt is why the internet is a great place. You can learn a lot from people that may or may not even know you exist.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Patrick. 🙂

  • I think it's a different matter altogether when you're being graded by the books that you read. It's the same way I feel about “obligatory” reading. It just takes the fun out of it all. However, I always think that enriching one's self is an ongoing process, that we can keep learning through constant reading. And i guess, that's also why I'm doubting my choices.

    Thanks for your input, Rachel! 🙂

  • I really like this post Joy, super thoughtful and opens the minds of readers alike. I really like reading and I think you should share it. But that's when people have different takes on the book, whether they will like it or not, so I try to fully enjoy my experience with it.

    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

  • I'm certainly not ashamed of what I read in my free time, but I also think my book choices would be different were I not in college and studying English; most of my time is spent reading “literature” and discussing it. In this way, I have no problem in sitting back and relaxing with YA. But I think, like every reader has a different experience with a book, we all read for different and multiple reasons. If it's escapism, read what helps you escape. If it's to learn about the world, read what teaches you. Maybe one day it's one reason, maybe the next day it's the other. I do think it's incredibly helpful to be reminded of what else is around, though, because I think we can get stuck in a rut, reading what's easy and not what necessarily challenges us–even if it's one book out of every thirty (or more!)

    Lovely and thought-provoking post, Joy! 🙂

  • Thank you. I think you've pretty much summarized my exact conclusion about this whole thing. I shouldn't feel guilty. I shouldn't let anything or anyone influence how I make my reading choices. But at the same time, finding those people who inspire me to be a broader reader is quite an enlightening discovery.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • There is no one purpose for reading. For some its an escape and for others its to be filled. Don't ever feel inadequate for what you read because as long as you enjoy it that's all that matters. 🙂

  • Thanks, Jas. Jen certainly has some great reading recommendations. But I'm still testing out the vast waters of Literary fiction so we'll see how it goes. I can understand why it's hard to get into them though. Sometimes, the books are just beyond my reach.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jas. 🙂

  • I agree. And in everyone's defence, I think it's all in my head (that people are judging me for my reading choices). But I think I'm just at a point in my life (at 40 years old) when I'm more conscious of my age and as it relates to my obsession with YA.

    Thanks for sharing, Nat!

  • I guess we just have to find our niches and decide to never apologize for our choices. I always think that there's got to be more than the usual, you know? And that's the great thing about our vice, there's just so much variety that it will be a long time before we can truly say, I'VE READ THEM ALL. It's simply impossible!

    Thanks, PE. 🙂

  • This is such a great post Joy! I'm always on the lookout for something different. I do tend to follow the trend sometimes, or go for a book in my comfort zone, but I have lately been reading a lot of the fantasy genre, something which I probably wouldn't have done a few years back and having a lot of success with it. I for one know that you read such a wide variety of books, much more than I do! So don't be too hard on yourself, but I look forward to seeing which books from now on will make it to your hauls! Also I love getting new book recommendations, so will definitely start following Jen!

  • My undergrad degree is in English which meant that I used to have to read huge Victorian novels, Faulkner, Shakespeare, Donne, etc, etc and write equally huge papers on said works, so I don't ever feel inadequate about the reading choices I make nowadays. Once I graduated, I promised myself that I would never force an unwanted read again. That said, I do sometimes hate the covers of the books I'm reading and don't want to read them in public. Once I was reading a book called The Art of French Kissing (which was obviously a chick lit book about a girl who travels to Paris) while getting my oil changed and I thought the guy across from me was going to fall out of his chair. (Like it takes a book to learn how to kiss. Lame.) I think what works best for me is not limiting myself purely to YA. I like the occasional mystery or literary novel and think any genre gets stale if that's the only one you concentrate on. But I don't think anyone should ever pass judgement on what others read. It only matters that you DO read, imo. Great post!

  • I definitely do sometimes, and I guess I try to mix it together. For example, I'm thinking right now of starting to read adult books. Serious adults books like memoirs and stuff that has some sort of deep meaning. I think I kind of look around at the bloggers with incredibly eloquent writing and I just want to improve and be more thoughtful and profound in my reviews.

    But at the same time, I have no interest in reading classics. I've tried to read Jane Austen or Wuthering Heights. Literary writing doesn't always appeal to me, and I have to remind myself that I have different tastes than others, and that's okay.

    Great post!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  • I feel the same way about those award-winning books and how they sometimes lead me to a prolonged reading slump. I guess you just can't try to be a “good” reader when you can't even garner enough appetite to read them.

    Thanks for stopping by, Cayce. 🙂

  • Sometimes I call some of my books “guilty pleasures”, but I never felt guilty for reading erotica or too much young adult. I still pick up more “substantial” books from time to time, but I've already read more than my share of classics/literary fiction while in high school/uni and right now I mostly want to read YA and LGBT with some mysteries on the side. And I don't think there is anything wrong with that. 🙂

    I don't really have any advice I could offer, but I don't think you should force-feed yourself with award winner books just for that you can say you've read them. That could only lead to a slump.

    Btw, just checked out A Guy's Moleskine Notebook and I'm in <3. Going to be a regular stalker there. Admittedly, I could never blog the way he does, but I don't even want to, I prefer my blog to be like me, slightly weird and silly but full with FEELS.

    Oh, and I love that you closed this post with a Haruki Murakami quote. I have yet to read Norwegian Wood but I own it (and the movie too), and hoping to get to them soon.

  • Another part of the problem too is that I worry too much about how other people see me through the books that I read. In this case, I seem to have quite a hang up on my teenaged years.

    Adult fiction is a hit and miss for me. But I'm trying. I just can't help but feel that I'm missing some pretty good literature out there.

    Thanks, Stephanie!

  • Your recommendation was good enough for me, so I'm now following JenBeBookish.

    I think entertainment comes in all shapes and forms, and what entertains me on some days might not work on another. I might want to read some WWII non-fiction one day and then something like Twilight the next. I do sometimes feel the need to explain to people in my real life that I don't ONLY read YA. I suppose I worry that they might think there is something wrong with me – that I might not be capable of enjoying books for adults. I hate that I think that way, but I think it's very possible some people could have that reaction.

    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

  • I guess it's a different matter when you've studied them all your life. You read for enjoyment's sake rather than to gain a grade. But for someone like me, I'll always wonder why the great novels are the way they are.

    Thanks, Andrea!

  • Hum, no. lol

    I, personally, am not a fan of reading when it's not for pleasure. Well, I guess it depends on the book. Being an English teacher there is a certain amount of reading for work but since it's high school I don't have to completely dissect each and every part of the novels. I had to do that in college for my literature classes and hated it – especially when there was a 10 page paper attached to the reading.

    I do have a close friend who reads those “higher end” literature books and he just recommends to me the ones he think I'd like. So far so good! 🙂

    Andrea @ Bookish

  • At the same time, you can't force yourself to read books that you don't enjoy, right? I mean why waste your time?

    Thanks, Sara. 😉

  • 🙁 That is the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me, Beth. Thank you.

  • I feel like that all the time! Do you want to know something? To me you are a well read person and I usually feel like I should be doing more after I read one of your reviews. I think you are so great at projecting what you feel through your words. What I'm trying to say is that you are my Matt. 🙂

  • This is an interesting post. I admit at times I feel inadequate because though I read a lot, I don't consider myself well-read. I haven't read many classics and mostly stick to YA. I often think about stretching my wings but in other ways I am happy with where I am at and enjoying what I read, for the most part.