Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature once hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten (or your own amount) accordingly.
Last month, I was notified by WordPress that is was my six year anniversary for registering with them. Which makes the upcoming December, my fifth year since creating my own internet corner. Unless you happen to be the five spam users who followed me in the first year before Reading and Reviews (I was a very original content creator at age sixteen as you can tell) came to life, you’d know this site was meant to be my writing bin. 😂 As an avid user and writer of Wattpad, I was left with a lot of stories that didn’t fit well with me anymore. And this space was meant to keep them, in a private site, away from anyone’s eyes. (You didn’t miss much, fifteen-year-old Zaheerah was basic and unoriginal)
Since it has been almost five years since I created my blog, and I really wanted to use this week’s TTT to reflect on how my reading habits have changed during these almost five years. I came to the conclusion that I have obviously changed quite a bit over the last six years. Since then, I’ve gone through secondary school, college and on my way to having a degree. Education has taken up a lot of the last six years and I’m interested to see how my reading habit will change again once I’ve graduated. I remember, during a shift at work, an old college teacher came by and was telling me how university will be the greatest part of my life. I laughed along in the conversation but it really made me think about myself and how education has always been something of a traumatic experience for me.
I won’t lie and say university was a breeze because it wasn’t. These past three years have made me the most anxious and tired. To be honest, I still wonder if it was ever worth it for me. And when I look back at my blog, I can see where it got too much for because my activity was either busy or completely absent. I even deserted this site for practically a year because I was struggling too much. University took a lot out of me and made coming here on this site less exciting and made blogging a chore rather than something I love. Now that I approach the middle of my final year, my dissertation is almost set in stone, I feel like I’m getting better. I know a career in publishing will difficult to embark on but the past year made me realize how much I truly love the process of making a book. I used to dream of becoming an author, and I still write in my free time, mainly for my own entertainment. (Hey, if no one’s publishing a story about a Muslim teen surviving a zombie apocalypse, then I have to make do with my own shoddy imagination 😂) But having experienced helping other authors with sensitivity reading and editing made me realize the making someone else’s story come to life is just as satisfying. I have no idea what I’m going to do once I have a degree in hand, but I’m happy to be where I am in this moment
I have gotten a bit off track here, but let’s get back on with it: how have my reading habits changed?
Before joining the blogging community, I never read reviews. Most of my reading recommendations came from either my friends or my Tumblr dashboard. So, it was pretty much only John Green, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and the Divergent series. And a couple of others that I can’t remember. Since starting my blog, I read more widely and became more open to book suggestions and I now really rely on reviews to help me choose my next read. It’s also made me a picky reader. The less time I have to read, the more I’ll want to read something I have a higher chance of enjoying.
Five years ago, I was a college student with no direction and in the present moment, I’m a third-year Sociology student, with even less direction and most importantly, no time to simmer about my reading options. University courses, especially ones that are heavily literature-based, means that my time to read has been heavily limited. I often have to put aside books in favour of my essays that need to be written. So I’m very adamant that the books I’m going to be taking my time to read will be ones that I’ll enjoy.
You can never really know if you’ll love or hate a book, but reviews really give you a chance to suss out a book before you dive into it. So, I rely heavily on my fellow book bloggers to help me decide. I follow a lot of great people, some with similar tastes as me or some that are complete polar opposites, and I’ll hopefully one day make a blogroll to showcase some of my favourites. But, reading reviews was definitely something younger me never thought to do, and making this blog has really helped my reading habits for the better.
No More Physicals (…unless?) Yep, this one’s pretty simple. I don’t buy physical copies of books anymore. Growing up as a middle child of five siblings in a three-bedroom house, it means there was little room for our own space. And we didn’t actually have much money growing up so books weren’t a priority, so I heavily relied on my school library and whatever books my sister had decided to buy with her own money.
Flash forward to now, we’ve since had the house extended and my oldest sister has moved out, so there’s more space but I still can’t have a proper shelf area. I actually had to order my Ikea bookshelf when my mum was in another country because I knew she wouldn’t want me to have one. 😭 It’s a pretty small shelf, only three rows, and once I sorted through all the books I owned, it was quickly filled up. The books are split into two categories: books I loved (and ones that I truly wanted physical copies) and books I have copies of but I haven’t read yet. Slowly, I’m trying to read the second category ASAP so I can just donate the books once I’m done with them, and free up precious shelf space.
I don’t know what but I used to always force myself to finish a book even if I didn’t like it. (Sorry to John Green, I just really couldn’t get into his books and I forced myself to read them because I was shy and his books gave me a talking point) But running a blog, alongside my education made me realise it’s okay to DNF. I used to hate leaving a book unfinished. I always thought to myself “hey, you’ve spent all this time getting this far, why stop now?” But I realized, it only ruined my reading experience overall. Knowing when to put a book down has made reading so much better.
Having better access to audiobooks has been a gamechanger for me. As someone who is always on public transport whether it be to university or work, I always have my earphones in. Usually, I listen to music but in the past few years, I’ve been listening to audiobooks or podcasts, and it has been life-changing. And it helps to work through my TBR as well much quicker because I’m using my time more efficiently by using the time where I would be waiting around.
Mainly because my days are so busy, night-time reading has become my best friend. I’ve allocated the last few hours before sleeping to reading. It’s helped a lot because I liked to read a lot in bulk time and in the mornings, I could only read like a few chapters at most, and having those set times has helped me a lot to read more efficiently.
Bouncing of what I said about audiobooks, listening to music while I read has helped me a lot. When I don’t have an audiobook, I’ll often read on my phone. I used to be able to read with no music playing, but in recent years, I’ve found myself reading in more public spaces, like the library and cafes, where it’s not too loud, but I can get distracted pretty easily by small noises. I don’t have a set playlist, I use Spotify so I press shuffle on my Liked songs and read on. Sometimes I don’t even register what I’m listening to, but it’s really helped me to tune out small noises that can make me lose attention.
My reading habits have changed and I am content with the books I’ve read because of it. And no longer stressing over little things made reading a better experience. I’ll look forward to reviewing this post in a years time when I’ll have been six months out of university by then! I hope future me is having a blast!