As a library page, the main part of my job is to shelve books. To some, it sounds like drudgery, but I love getting the chance to browse every section. And there’s good stuff to read everywhere. The downside is that it’s hard to narrow my favorites down to a particular genre—or even three.
The books I sink my teeth into most, however, do have some common themes, mostly focusing on my guilty pleasures.
For example, I love to travel, but my dream world tour isn’t practical yet, so I use books to learn about cultures and places that are distant from my own. My mother was born in Southeast Asia, so I’ve always been drawn to stories set in Asian countries or about Asian characters in the United States (the middle grade book The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang is a gem). I’ve also enjoyed several books focusing on the perspectives of Middle Eastern women; Qanta Ahmed’s memoir, In the Land of Invisible Women, comes to mind, as well as the young adult novel Written in the Stars by Aeshe Saeed.
On a related note, one of my favorite parts of exotic journeys is reading the lush descriptions of the food eaten by the narrators (fiction or non). Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence made me want to pick up and move to France, so I could live on bread, olive oil, and wine. But I also like to flip through cookbooks (and ogle their colorful photos), whether or not I plan to make any of the recipes. Through memoirs by Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain, I’ve learned about the workings of restaurants (the front and back of the house), as well as the different ways in which people can express their love for food.
I also enjoy a sprinkle of romance in my reading. This includes—but isn’t limited to—actual romance novels (from the ubiquitous Pride and Prejudice to a more recent favorite, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang).