I’m a pretty voracious reader. Ever since I was a child, I have always had a deep love of books. Fiction, mysteries and thrillers, biographies, science fiction, non-fiction, even silly chick-lit — I will read anything if it sounds promising. An eye-catching cover always helps, too. It’s my favorite way to unwind and destress after a long day of working and parenting.
That said, with everything going on in the world right now, including a global pandemic and civil unrest in the U.S., there are some books that just don’t feel right for me to read now. With the world in such a heavy place and the struggles of parenting mid-pandemic, there are some genres I need a break from.
I used to love reading about unsolved mysteries, cold cases, and true crime. One of my favorite books in this category is “The Skeleton Crew” by Deborah Halber, which details how amateur sleuths are solving cold cases via the internet. Earlier this year I finally read “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote, which I could not put down. But now? The thought of picking up a book about a serial killer or unsolved murder makes me so anxious I need to breathe into a paper bag.
Who doesn’t love an underdog story? The narrator overcomes unfathomable circumstances and a tragic upbringing, and not only is the story compelling, it’s also based on real life. “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls is one of those books that has just stayed with me, even though I read it years ago. But a common theme in a lot of these books is really crappy homes and questionable parents. In a pre-COVID life, this would make me feel validated by my parenting choices. But having been at home with my child for the past three and a half months with little to no break, I’m paranoid that every choice I make feels wrong. And then I start thinking I could very easily be the 21st century Mommie Dearest. I don’t need that on my conscience right now.
Young adult fiction
This one isn’t all-encompassing. I’m a little bit judicious about which YA novels I’ll read these days. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas is excellent, and I would read it again 10 times over if I wasn’t currently working through a mile-high pile of books at the moment. A lot of the sci-fi and fantasy series are great too. But some of the romance or slice-of-life novels are just not my cup of tea anymore. I no longer find enjoyment or can root for some snot-nosed protagonist yelling at their parents, “You’ve ruined my life!” because they have to move away. You don’t even pay your bills yet, kid. Stop being so obnoxiously overdramatic.
So what have I been reading these days? Books on anti-racism, plays because live theatre isn’t happening anytime soon, and some fun fluff novels to help balance it out. I am hopeful that one day I can add true crime, memoir, and YA fiction back to my roster. But for now, I have plenty of other books in my queue to keep me satisfied.