Monday, October 24, 2016

Self-Doubt and Reading

Sometimes I doubt my love for books. Or, certain genres, I should say. My love of books never leaves, but there are times when I think that maybe . . . my interests SHOULD be different. And even though my thoughts around this topic feel so irrational, self-doubt is still a seed that grows and grows until you can barely control it. Then you have to figure out how to clear the weeds and--okay, wow. I'm getting carried away with this metaphor.

Let's just get to the post.

Self-doubt SUCKS. And when it's book and reading related? It's even worse because that's supposed to be my sanctuary away from my insecurities. Writing and talking about books, buying and borrowing them, sharing and receiving recommendations are all supposed to be a part of that sanctuary. Reading is one of my biggest passions in life, and having negative feelings associated with it . . . well, it doesn't make me happy.

Where does this self-doubt even start? If I go a long time without reading a fantastic book (or any books!) in certain genres, I start questioning myself. I start listening to other people's issues with them and I start thinking that my reactions should be more similar to theirs. (Another struggle of mine is the urge to conform and have the same thoughts as my peers because they must be "right" or something--which really doesn't make sense outside of my head.) Then the irrational thoughts start trickling in and growing:
  • Am I looked down on because I love reading this genre?
  • Should I read this genre less?
  • Should I stop reviewing this genre?
  • Should I pull back from reviewing most books?
  • Should I be as quiet as possible about the books I read and just signal boost others' reviews and book recs?
Annnddd sometimes those questions turn into actions, and they have recently. I'm getting a little closer to posting my thoughts on books again, though. (Litsy hasn't been as affected as other places.)

The genre I've been doubting lately is romance. New Adult and Adult contemporary romance, mostly. I haven't read many YA contemporary romances this year, so I don't have much to say about that right now. Romance is at the root of my interest in MANY books. It's always been! I'm starting to think I'm a hopeless romantic because there's nothing that gets me lost in a book quicker than a little bit of romantic chemistry between two characters. So, doubting my love for romance is . . .  strange. It weighs on me more if I doubted my love for fantasy or for YA entirely (which I have also done this year).

There are two points that I keep coming back to when I'm doubting myself:
  • Romance is oftentimes problematic in some way (New Adult especially). There's really no way of downplaying that. I've met my fair share of romances that just . . . no.
  • Romance is frequently . . . looked down upon? Dismissed? Not seen as worthwhile or being capable of being quality reading? Being similar to other stories?
I think of these things and forget all the things I love about the genre and instead start thinking about how . . . maybe I shouldn't love it. Maybe I shouldn't read it. Maybe it's not a good thing that I love this genre.

But.

(Here comes my favorite part of this post.)

There comes a book that reminds me just. How. Stupid. I'm. Being.

I started Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas shortly after midnight and read it almost nonstop for the next four hours, decided to get some sleep, and woke up in one of the best moods I've been in all month. My love for great romances was reignited. I felt talkative. I felt excited to start my day and get back to reading. And . . . I wrote this post, feeling more exciting about blogging than I've been in three weeks.

And it's all because my self-doubt was kicked to the side as I was reminded why I read romance.

I love romance books!!. I can get lost in contemporary romance for hours and not feel tired or hungry or so damn self-conscious. The world fades away. I get lost in speculative fiction with a great romance, too, though it's a little tougher to stay in as long as I do with a contemporary. New Adult is relateable to me right now. I'm a 21 year old who feels completely lost in life and many of the characters I meet in NA (be it a YA/NA or NA/adult crossover) feel THE SAME WAY. And though I don't relate to them because of the romance, romance is frequently the thing that makes it easier to get into the book, which then helps me connect to the characters.

Sooo,
  • Quite a few romances are problematic. A lot of them aren't. There are also a ton of them that have their problematic parts, but are still great as a whole. Same goes for all the other genres!
  • Other people may dismiss romance, but I can't do the same. Sure, not all romances will be great. Of course not. But this genre frequently brings something valuable to my life.
Also, reading-related self-doubt sucks, but it pales in comparison to that satisfying feeling of falling in love with a book.

Have you ever been in a similar situation where you doubted how much you love a certain book genre/type/category?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

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