In the age of social media, sharing everything, and tagging yourself so that the whole world can see what you’re doing and where you are, reading, at least for me, is still an offline, solitary thing. Even though I’m charmed by things like the Kobo Reading App’s “achievement” badges (and yes, I get a little tickled every time I do something like “read 5 days in a row at lunchtime” or “binge-read three books” or something silly – hooray for human psych), reading is still something I do on my own, without needing to tell anyone about it.
Much of that comes from my upbringing, where I couldn’t disappear for days at a time to tear through a literary doorstop like Gone With The Wind all at once. I had to “be sociable” and interact with people. That’s something I can do, when necessary, and I even enjoy–a lot–when I’m not forced to do it. But because it was in the way of my book, I hated having to do it at the time, so I ended up doing a lot of my reading in the middle of the night, or in places where nobody knew I was reading.
But in those places, I made no apologies about what I chose to read. I didn’t have to explain myself or (in later years when I was away at college) read critically for any reason other than “Is this fun for me? Is it telling a good story?” I do read critically, and have often found myself going back to examine why I find something compelling, entertaining, thought-provoking, or attention-worthy in the first place. I’m comfortable with a certain level of saying to myself “I enjoyed reading this, but it bothered me because ___” or “I didn’t like the premise, but it worked because ___” (I do that last one with a lot more movies and TV shows than books, though. I have less patience with visual media probably because it’s inherently more “social”).
AR DeClerck isn’t afraid to jump genres between sci-fi and fantasy, or mystery and romance. Her steampunk stories come from the heart and are as satisfying as the steady tick-tick of a well-engineered piece of timekeeping elegance.
Aimee Easterling isn’t afraid to cross the boundary between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to a fellow Linux user because open-source opens doors where windows sometimes get stuck shut.