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August 8, 2013

Teen Board: Does the Time of Year Affect What You Read?

Last week, in the midst of tearing through a yet another lighthearted romance novel at the beach, I happened to look up and see a friend of my mother’s who was avidly reading a slightly wrinkled paperback. I asked her what she was reading, and she told me the title of her book. As she glanced at the cover she noted, “It’s mostly just fluff.” It took me a moment to realize that by “fluff,” our family friend meant that she was reading one of the many somewhat pointless, but nonetheless entertaining, books that really seem fit only for the beach. As I thought about the books I have read this summer, I realized that many of them were a different sort of reading material than what I normally gravitate toward during the school year. This led me to form the idea that perhaps the time of year helps to determine what a person reads.

As I mentioned before, in the summer I love “guilty pleasure” books. This category includes corny mysteries, predictable romances, gossip magazines, supernatural books and pretty much anything else that doesn’t really have a purpose. I think this has something to do with the fact that summer is a carefree time, meant to be lived spontaneously. In the summer, I’m generally less stressed and I feel more adventurous. As a result, my book choices are less serious. Another factor that may contribute to my lapse in reading meaningful books is that I read my summer books in different places than my winter ones. In the summer, I mainly read at a local pond, the ocean, my deck or even on our boat. It somehow seems bizarre to be reading anything too dark or serious in these cheerful and sunny settings.

In the fall, I usually have a hard time reading at all. Gone are summer’s numerous, blissful hours of stretching out in the sun with nothing to do except read. For me, autumn is the most hectic time of year. Between starting school again and playing a varsity sport, it’s difficult not to fall into the mindless pattern of school, homework, practice, eating and sleeping. However, as a die-hard bookworm, I do manage to squeeze in some reading time. I often find that I read very mellow books in the fall. As I have less time to pick out quality books, I (shamefully) tend to just grab a random book with a nice-looking cover and hope that it’s worth reading. I usually find that it isn’t. These books are frequently from the adult section of the library and are rarely of much interest to me because they’re geared towards older people. I’ve definitely read adult books that I did enjoy, but there were also many that didn’t appeal to me. One of the worst was a mystery novel that had crochet patterns and various muffin recipes at the end of each chapter! These novels usually feature a young or middle-aged woman with a strong personality who overcomes a series of obstacles. They’re predictable and not highly exciting, but reading them somehow relaxes me from the tensions of school and sports.

As the days grow shorter and winter approaches, I tend to read darker and more serious books. As I live in rural Massachusetts, our small school often has snow days. Although I always dread making up these days at the end of the year, they nonetheless provide time to hole up with a good book. My favorite place to sit while reading in the winter is the heating vent situated between our couch and the wall. This nook is closely followed by my bed, which is weighed down with many layers of covers.  It seems that being in a place which feels so cozy and safe causes me to read scarier books than usual. In the winter I often read sci-fi books that predict the dismal future of humanity, intense mysteries and even the very occasional horror novel. The mood of these books matches the darkness of the frigid winter nights and I’m usually so intrigued by their mysterious plots that I stay up reading much later than I should. Additionally, it seems to me that the dreariness of January and February, as well as the boredom induced by these months, definitely influences my winter reading choices. Since I have little else to do except read, I choose books that will provide more of a thrill. Thankfully, these usually rescue me from my winter blues.

As spring pops up and the world reawakens, I find myself reading more uplifting books. One of the main genres that I read during this time is autobiographies, particularly those that depict a struggling character who rises above the many obstacles set before them and winds up living a happy and fulfilling life. These books probably interest me most in spring because after surviving an extremely long winter in New England, I definitely need a little motivation. As the snow melts to reveal newly emerging seedlings, I love to read books that make me feel hopeful and excited for the year ahead.

Tomorrow, I’ll probably start reading yet another vampire romance that will teach me absolutely nothing about life. Remarkably, I don’t even feel defensive about reading such a highly entertaining but undeniably pointless book. There are only a few weeks of summer left, so I might as well read as much “fluff” as I can.