My Favorite Genres

Last week I talked about the genres I don’t like to read, so this week I want to tell you the genres I do! There’s a few genres I don’t read because they don’t resonate with me and I don’t get a lot out of reading them. Because time is precious and I want to be spending my time on books that I get a lot out of, these are the genres I usually turn to:

Young Adult
Pretty much everything I read is YA. I don’t know if it’s because these books meant so much to me growing up or because I love a good coming-of-age story or because I make up stories for a living and don’t quite feel like an adult, but YA books have always been my favorites. When I go into a bookstore or library, you can find me heading straight to the teen section.

Science Fiction and Dystopian
I’ve always been fascinated with the future and with space, and so that’s why I’ve always loved science fiction books. I love the dystopian subgenre in particular because even though these stories depict negative futures, they’re usually full of so much hope.

I don’t read fantasy books as much because they’re usually so long and I have trouble sitting still long enough to read them, but I love fantasy books because of the amazing world building. Because I write a lot of stories set in the future, world building is a big part of my writing process. Fantasy books are a great addition to science fiction to read and be inspired about world building

Christian Nonfiction
My faith is the most important part of my life, and so I love reading Christian living books and devotionals. These books help me to focus on God and grow in my faith, which I always want to be doing.

I only recently got into the romance genre, but because I read a lot of heavy and dystopian books, romance novels are light and fun to take a break with.These are some of my favorite books in these genres.

These are some of my favorite books in these genres.

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Some of my favorite books from my favorite genres

You can definitely see the influence of my favorite genres to read on what I write. I primarily write young adult contemporary and science fiction because those stories have always resonated with me the most. What are your favorite genres to read and write?

Favorite Book Feature: The Reader by Traci Chee

Sometimes I read a book for the first time and it instantly makes its way to my favorites shelf. That happened this month with The Reader by Traci Chee. I usually don’t read fantasy, but I picked up this book because I had read that it was about a world without a written language, so I thought it would help inspire me with my WIP. I came into this book expecting to get a few new ideas on how a world would function without a written language, but I was instantly blown away by this amazing, thrilling, and diverse story about magic, pirates, and a book that contains everything that’s happened and everything that will be.

Sefia has been on the run every since her father was brutally murdered. She survived in the wild with her aunt Nin, but after Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is on her own with the mysterious object her parents had her protect: a book. Sefia teaches herself to read and sets out to rescue her aunt, and along the way she befriends a mute boy, is helped by pirates, and discovers a magic she didn’t know existed.

This book instantly became one of my favorites for several reasons. First of all, I love how diverse The Reader is. The story is populated by people of every age and color, and men and women are complete equals in the fantasy world of Kelanna. I like that Chee doesn’t draw much attention to it—that’s just the way things are in Kelanna. It’s refreshing to read a story in which this is the norm.

I also love this book because of one of its main themes, which is how stories give life meaning. Several of the characters struggle with the idea of not being remembered. Captain Reed in particular worries that his life won’t mean anything if people don’t remember the stories of all the adventures he’s been on. He even tattoos his body with images of everything he’s done. By addressing this theme, Chee highlights just how important stories are.

But the main reason I love this book is because it’s clear that the author loves words. Her love and respect of language infuses every word of The Reader. Chee writes with such authority, and had me laughing, crying, and devouring the pages. Words have magic in the story, and I love this analogy. Stories are powerful, and it is fascinating to see how that works out in a fantasy setting.

The Reader by Traci Chee

What I’m Reading – Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson continues to amaze me with each book of hers that I read. Prom is no exception. With Prom, Anderson gives a character that you can really relate to. Ashley is a “normal” girl. She doesn’t care too much about school, she has a large family, she has a crappy job and an even crappier boyfriend, and she really doesn’t care about the prom.

Her best friend, Natalia, however, is on the prom committee and is devastated when the math teacher steals all of the prom money. Then Ashley finds herself roped into helping her school put on the prom anyway with no budget and just about everything against them. Prom is truly a modern Cinderella story, as Ashley makes it to the ball despite everything and learns a lot about what she wants for her life.

Prom, like all of Anderson’s books, pulls you in with its unique voice and doesn’t let you go. I couldn’t put the book down. What I really enjoyed about this book was how real it felt. I felt like I was in Ashley’s school with her, and all I wanted was to help her find the right path for her life. Plus it made me laugh out loud that the slippers she wore to the ball/prom were, in fact, slippers.

Laurie Halse Anderson has quickly become one of my favorite authors and is such an influence on my own writing, and I just found out that she’s coming to Dayton on a book tour in a of couple weeks. I can’t believe I get to meet her!

Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

What I’m Reading: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

In a word, This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith is adorable. I normally don’t read romance books like this, but the title hooked me, and I am so glad I picked this up at the library.

The book starts with an email sent to the wrong address. Without even knowing each other’s names and living on opposite coasts, Ellie and Graham start a relationship through email where they talk about everything from Graham’s pet pig to what happiness looks like. When Graham’s movie is set to film in Ellie’s small Maine hometown, he finds her and tries to take their relationship offline. But Ellie has secrets from her past that she doesn’t want coming into Graham’s movie star spotlight. Despite coming from different worlds, they start to fall in love and try to figure out a way to make a real relationship work.

This book perfectly captures summer and what happy feels like, as the title suggests. It is an uplifting read about star-crossed lovers, and will leave you wanting a summer romance in coastal Maine.

This is what happy looks like
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

What I’m Reading: The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

In her blurb on the cover of The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork, author Stephanie Perkins claims that “This book might just save your life.” I don’t think this claim could be any more accurate.

With this story, Stork gives an honest portrayal of mental illness. The book begins when Vicky wakes up in the hospital after a suicide attempt, but it is not about why she tried to kill herself. The Memory of Light instead explores how you can go on living afterwards.

This book is unlike any other I have read that deals with the subject of mental illness. Inspired by the author’s own experience with depression, this book digs deep into Vicky’s mind and looks at how depression is a fog that clouds her thoughts. Yet despite the pain in her life, Vicky meets friends at the hospital who are going through similar things, and, with their help, Vicky finds reasons to keep on living.

Writing about depression is hard. It’s been a subject I’ve wanted to tackle for a long time, but I’ve only ever managed to write a short story about it. I really admire Stork’s raw and honest approach to such a difficult topic. I will look to this book as inspiration when I eventually tackle this subject myself in a novel. The Memory of Light is definitely a great read if you want an inside look on living with depression, and a must-read if you have had any experience with this illness.

the memory of light
The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

What I’m Reading: Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

I’m sad that I went so long without reading any books by Laurie Halse Anderson, but I am so glad that someone recommended her to me. I’ve read five of her books so far, and I’ve loved each and every one of them. Her novel Speak was a huge inspiration for the novel I just wrote. And I can’t wait to read the rest of her books, which have been sitting on my to be read pile for the last three months.

I just finished her novel Fever, 1793, which is about the yellow fever epidemic of Philadelphia in 1793. The novel is about Mattie Cook, a fourteen year old who has big dreams of running her family’s coffeehouse business. However, the fever interrupts her plans and forces her to focus on mere survival.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read historical fiction, though it used to be my favorite genre. I ate up American Girl and Dear America novels when I was in middle school. I think this might be the first historical fiction book I’ve read since then, and it made me remember why I loved the genre.

Anderson makes you feel like you’re in 1793 Philadelphia. She takes you into Mattie’s world and shows you what it’s like to be a coming-of-age girl at this time. And she shows you the heartbreaking tragedy of the epidemic. Anderson kept me turning pages, dying to know what would happen to Mattie.

Mattie’s story is very inspiring. She faces heartbreak after heartbreak as each member or her family, including herself, falls victim to the fever. Yet she perseveres, and still fights for her dream of running the coffeehouse. I highly recommend this story about a girl coming into her own in the face of tragedy.

Fever by Laurie Halse Anderson