From the age of 13-16 I adored crime fiction and thrillers over any other type of book. My shelves would be full of murderers, serial killers, kidnappers and detectives. I saw no end to this love, and couldn’t comprehend that one day I just would not be able to pick up a crime book.
And then a few dodgy books sent me spiralling away from this love; so far in fact that I’ve never truly been able to retrace my steps.
It wasn’t so much the genre itself but I was experiencing the dreaded genre fatigue. When you read so much of one genre that your brain quite literally cannot take another page. I found myself guessing the key plot points. What is the fun of mystery when you’ve already solved them?
How can we grow sick of something we love so much?
Like a chocolate brand, favourite series, even items of clothing – too much use can cause our brains to get tired of their repetitiveness. We look to books as escapism from the mundaneness of life most of the time, and so to find that same monotony in the genre we read can be difficult to deal with.
I think I knew that I would have to give up thrillers and crime when reading became a chore. None of the books on my shelves inspired me at all. Since then my reading habits have done a bit of a 180, but I can happily say now that I do love the odd mystery and thriller book. I couldn’t read them as religiously as I used to, but they are now part of my shelves again.
I think what often gets confused with genre fatigue is also just growing out of genres. As humans we shift and change naturally, and so it is in our nature for our tastes and interests to reshape too. It can be disconcerting when you’ve only ever been one type of reader and all of a sudden you see a shift in yourself.
After leaving crime behind, there was a gap in my interests. What should I like now? I tried to plug it with classics, literary fiction, even fantasy for a while but I found that actually I couldn’t commit to any one genre. I think on BookTude and Bookist communities online, there is a need to fill a niche. You can’t just read everything – but why not?
The community is changing from when I joined years before, but I still think we feel confined by our genre-constructed boxes. You must only like YA. You must only like Fantasy. We need to listen to our brains when we read, and listen to what it is craving. So when it tells you it’s bored of crime but wants to read YA – you listen to it and you go out and find those books that inspire you.