When it comes to reading, Iâ€™ll admit that I can be a bit of a trend-follower. With this in mind, when word on the street is that thereâ€™s a new novel everyone loves, I go ahead and buy not only it, but the whole series, all books published by that particular author, and sometimes even whatever Amazon recommends for people who have liked this book. In a generation where certain books and authors seem to dominate the market (and see this article for how just a few at the top are the big earners too) itâ€™s not difficult to convince yourself that if everyone else is reading, and presumably enjoying, a certain book or books, then you certainly will too. Or a book by Zoella, or another famous YouTuber.
Much to my chagrin, Iâ€™ve convinced myself of this many, many times. Once the name John Green started appearing on social media, newspapers, blogs and the like, I figured that since his books were adored by millions, I too could join their ranks. I was a fan of his Vlogbrothers YouTube channel, and decided that if I found his three-minute videos interesting, there was no reason I wouldnâ€™t find his novels equally interesting. As a result, I promptly went and ordered every John Green book I could find, even choosing the Christmas-themed Let It Snow , despite it being mid-March at the time. Sitting down with my pile of John Green books, I cracked open Looking for Alaska and began to read. I didnâ€™t like it (I know, heresy to say so to so many Young Adult readers!). Undeterred, I moved on to An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in Our Stars, and so forth, and by the end of them, I still wasnâ€™t impressed. Itâ€™s not that I necessarily thought Greenâ€™s novels were bad, but they just werenâ€™t my cup of tea. Nevertheless, I now have more John Green books on my bookshelf than novels by authors I actually really like.
Itâ€™s even easier to do this with series. I always convince myself that thereâ€™s no point in just buying the first book in the series, and might as well get the whole lot. More often than not, I find myself with multiple series I donâ€™t particularly enjoy when I should have just bought the first one. For instance, Iâ€™d heard talk of a series called Shannara as an ideal way to tide me over until the next Game of Thrones novel is released, so asked my Dad if he wouldnâ€™t mind ordering them for me. However, what I hadnâ€™t realised was that the author, Terry Brooks, had published over 20 novels within the Shannara series. Not only do I physically not have enough room on my shelf to store more than 20 new books, but I have now committed myself to reading a long series that I find okay, but not amazing, simply because a group of people had told me they were really good.
Itâ€™s an issue that affects many of us. â€œEveryone seems to love the Twilight series, so Iâ€™ll buy them all too.â€ â€œOh, theyâ€™re adapting The Maze Runner for the cinema, Iâ€™d better read all of them before the films are released.â€ â€œPeople like Cassandra Clare? I ought to purchase every book sheâ€™s ever published.â€ All books loved by many, but by no means a reason to decide to read them yourself, simply because everyone else is. What happened to choosing books that you yourself might enjoy?
On the flip side, following the crowd can also be an issue for those who paved the way. We hear a lot about this in the music world, where those who had â€œdiscoveredâ€ certain artists get annoyed when they become popular and mainstream. And why not? Once your favourite singer blows up, the likelihood of them playing at intimate venues, answering your fanmail and meeting you after shows decreases dramatically, and the same can be said of many an author. Itâ€™s more likely that youâ€™ll be able to connect with the lesser-known authors who may not have hit the big-time than those who have sold millions of copies of their novels across the globe.
Iâ€™m not saying that you shouldnâ€™t read what everyone else is reading if you think you might enjoy it â€“ I wouldnâ€™t have found out about some of my favourite books had tales of them not been whispered in the hallowed halls of my school, or shown up numerous times on my Facebook feed from friends, bloggers and websites including Guardian childrenâ€™s books site.
However, consider picking that book at the back of the shelf, hidden by all the copies of The Hunger Games, Paper Towns, and The Book Thief, that caught your eye instead. In devoting your reading time to â€œthat seriesâ€ thatâ€™s all the rage when truth be told youâ€™d much rather be reading something else, you might find yourself missing some great, and perhaps unknown, books that you would love.
But, you may be asking, how do I know if a book is good if no-one else is reading it yet? Checking out some of the reviews on our site is a good start â€“ I reviewed Veronica Rothâ€™s Divergent on the site back in 2011, and take full credit for making it popular (just kidding!), and have found countless favourites through other member suggestions, such as Trudi Canavanâ€™s spectacular Black Magician Trilogy. Similarly, more often than not, your gut instincts are almost always right, and Iâ€™ve found some of my best-loved books by choosing novels in bookstores that I thought looked interesting, even though they may have been surrounded by stacks of the latest bestsellers. Remember, all trends have to start somewhere â€“ even the likes of J K Rowling, Rick Riordan, and John Green (who came in to do a podcast for us way back in 2013!) were once unknown authors before readers chose their books over the top names at the time. Who knows, maybe the next big YA trend will be that little-known novel that you chose because you wanted to, and not because the rest of the world said you should.