I recently read Reality Boy by A.S. King and it wasn't the read I wanted it to be, but there is one theme it explored quite well that is sticking with me, days later in all situations. It's the idea of demanding what you should rightfully have.
This idea makes me quite uncomfortable because I think as a person, I feel guilty a lot. I live somewhere peaceful in a decent family and have friends and will be going to university. I have a great life, and I feel guilty sometimes because I wonder if I'm not living it to the fullest because I really ought to for all the people that want to be in my position but can't.
So demands are not things I'm very comfortable with, but it's something I know I can do. So, let's talk about some of my bookish demands.
1. I demand my right to love what I love.
This is a quite general demand that is true in numerous ways. First of all, there are people that are slightly rude when they find that I'm a reader. It's totally a nerdy thing to do, and you know what? Nerds are great. Nerds are just people that really love something deeply, and I'd rather be a nerd in love with the world than someone that enjoys condemning other people's interests.
Furthermore, there are the people that are snobs about what types of books I read. What I've noticed thus far is that there are ALWAYS people that don't look well upon what you're reading. Some books are too pretentious to read. Some are for boring people. Some are not mature enough.
I really give no shits about what people think about what I'm reading (books make me too happy for that) so this is more aimed towards the people that enjoy just shitting on what you love. Stop that.
2. I demand to read what I want.
Oh, the blogging pressure. No one will outright say that certain books needs to be read (well, we all say it but not seriously!) but absolutely, there is an undercurrent that the best blogs have ARCs of the most hyped up books first. There's pressure to stay on the curve and keep up with your audience: new books.
The fact that I'm writing on a YA blog now doesn't mean I'm not allowed to read books on philosophy or memoirs. I'm allowed to grow as a reader.
This pressure doesn't exist for everyone, and it's probably self made, so I'm going to demand this of myself: I have a right to read whatever the hell I want. I don't need to read a review book because some author seems very sweet and the synopsis might possibly work for me. I don't need to force myself to try ARCs to keep my blog going. I don't even need to stick strictly to YA. I demand that my life is too short to spend doing what I don't want to do, and I will read what I want.
3. I demand that I stop feeling guilty for not liking something.
I am sad whenever I don't like a book. Especially when other people whom I respect immensely like the book. I always wonder, what am I missing? It can make reading a strange experience because I'm wondering if I'm not empathizing enough, or if I expect too much from a certain book.
I've been told my ratings for books are quite harsh because as soon as I remember a book with negative feelings, it gets a 1 star and five stars are quite rate. 2 stars is my average read. Just as I am capable of loving books, I am equally capable of clearly not liking a book, and I shouldn't feel so incredibly guilty at the thought of an author looking at my review. They're grown-ups (for the most part!) and they can handle it. It's not like I'm shoving my opinion in someone's face, either.
I'm sure there are more demands I'm probably forgetting, but three works for me. Reality Boy made me remember that demands aren't always selfish, and it's important to be kind to oneself.