Teen Reader Profile: Sabrina K.
My taste level in reading is similar to that of food. Sometimes, I dare to be adventurous and try something new or exotic, wanting to experience different tastes or experiences from the norm. Other times, I stay in my comfort zone and eat the same thing over and over again because the expected is already known. No matter what my choice the choice is though, I always expect the best quality of food possible — in both presentation and execution.
At age 13, I found the classics to be my “calling.” The piece that stuck out to me most was Shakespeares Hamlet. I felt that I could relate to the Prince Hamlet, because I, too, felt that my perception of the world around me was quickly changing. The idea of backstabbing was all too familiar to me at age 13, and I wanted to read someone else’s account on how they dealt with the situation. It was this relatability that I had with the prince that lead me towards reading books that I, as a reader, could easily relate to. The sentiment of feeling alone, a weird teenager — that void was filled when I found books that had protagonists with similar stories and voices.
During these junior high years, I read many books about awkward teenage girls trying to fit in with the rest of society. This included a list of books from female authors such as Judy Blume, Meg Cabot, and Sarah Dessen. By reading these books, I knew that at least one person, most likely the author, had felt the same way of feeling left out. It was this feeling of authenticity that I found to be not only refreshing as a reader, but heartwarming as well. It filled me with hope that one day, I might not be a teenager any longer.
After reading hundreds of books of girls hating their noses, dealing with insecurities, being called fat, not know if God existed, and having their first heartbreak, I decided to go for something a bit different. I was tired of reading “superficial” books that were all too similar to my life and wanted a change of scenery. It was time for me to see what else books had to offer, so I followed the trend of the time and jumped into reading books that allowed me to go into a different dimension. Being in a rebellious teen angst phase at the time, I decided that “darker” books would become my mantra for literature. Horror books on cults, murders, drugs, sex, and of course paranormal fiction filled my book bag during high school. To say that I had become completely immersed into this whole other world was an understatement.
This desire for something new to read that was out of my realm attracted not only me as a reader, but my peers as well. Throughout high school, paranormal books were read during class, in the lunchroom, while the announcements were blaring on the TVscreen, and even during school assemblies.
Paranormal fiction had become addicting for both readers and authors alike. I read my fair share of paranormal fiction from wolves, to doppelgangers, fairies (evil ones of course), talking bears, vampires, vampire hunters, and witches from Salem to the Druids. As a reader in high school, I looked for books that were considered a quick read but that had content full of drama, passion, and romance.
To this day, I still am enchanted with paranormal fiction but not as much as I used to. I believe that authors have explored every single different scenario possible in this genre. As a reader, it became quite exhausting reading the same plot lines over and over again. Each book was exactly like every other, almost to the point that plagiarism had to be put into question. In my opinion, it seems that authors are simply writing books because it’s “on trend” for teenagers at the moment. Instead, they (the authors) should be writing what they feel needs to be expressed or illustrated to teen readers at the moment. I heard an author say once that the only reason he wrote a paranormal book was because of Twilight‘s success. That comment to this day upsets me. What upsets me more is how Barnes & Noble has created a whole section dedicated to paranormal fiction. When I read the paranormal fiction teen books, there is a lack of effort authors put in. Yes, some teenagers might be naïve enough to read a book solely based off of the fact that there are vampires in a book, but the majority, like me, still care about the content. There has to be a relationship, as an author, that you create for your readers. As an author, you have to show in your writing style, plot line, and character development that you have put time, passion, and dedication into your work.
This appreciation of readers is now what I look for at the bookstore. No matter what genre or topic I decide to read, I look for quality rather than quantity (or in this case the amount of supernatural characters you have). Adding a doppelganger into your book won’t make you into a teen sensation in the book world. What makes matters worse is that authors assume that all teenagers are into this, but some are like me and are getting tired of reading the same books. Lately, I have been reading books solely based off of these guidelines of finding books of high quality.
Now, I don’t read to read. I don’t have time for that, and honestly, a small amount of people actually can. Instead, I look for books with good quality. Yes, I have been getting obsessed with the new futuristic books such as Across the Universe, Matched, and, yes, The Hunger Games, but to a lesser extent. I still find it heartwarming to read realistic (fiction) books such as that of John Green.
As I look back at my reading taste throughout my teenage years and their “evolution,” I’ve figured out what I like. It includes the following: a solid plot, character development, illustrations, and brevity. In order to figure out what kind of books you like, you have to be willing to sample as many books as possible: the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly. Now, I know that I, indeed, just like with food, am by far one picky reader.
– Sabrina Kennelly, currently reading the Vampire Diaries series