Books, Discussion

How have your life experiences shaped your reading interests?


Reading habits don’t exist in a vaccuum. Often, they’re a result of strong associations and good memories. Any new experience could be the catalyst for someone’s newfound literary obsession!

Here are a few things that have inspired my own reading interests:

7-year-old me

Me at age 7 or so, on a camping trip

A quiet childhood

I grew up as an only child. We lived smack-dab in the middle of nowhere, a long car’s ride away from most potential playmates. Reading was encouraged in my house – and I found that there were friends to be made in books, tenacious and brave children who made a difference in their worlds.

The endless pine trees of my backyard were beautiful… but a bit homogeneous. In books, I could explore stories of castles and magic, giants and witches, magic and immortality.

I did get a baby sibling eventually, and we ended up moving to a bigger town. But the love for escapism via fantasy remained!

Mixed cultural heritage

My family heritage includes Puerto Rico and the Philippines. It’s probably pretty unsurprising that I’m drawn to stories of diaspora and mixed race – especially ones focused on the Caribbean, Latin America, and southeast Asia.

What else do these two tropical locales have in common? Being annexed by the United States in 1898… along with a good helping of violence and old-timey racist policies enacted by Uncle Sam Go Here. (Yay!) Because of this less-than-delightful coincidence, I’m interested in all kinds of relevant topics: post-colonial literature and the legacy of imperialism; linguistics, anthropology, and human geography.


Trips I’ve taken

I’m secretly a giant history nerd. I’m the type who’s happily addicted to Wiki-walks through the details of obscure battles and generations of European aristocrats.

In the past few years, I’ve spent a semester abroad in Spain and taken a trip to Portugal. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the art and history of those places: the prehistoric Celts, the rise of the Moors and the Reconquista, the age of naval discovery and warfare. Nowadays, I’m intrigued by Spanish/Portuguese voices in literature, and I’ll happily devour a good book written about the Iberian peninsula.

What life experiences have shaped your reading interests?

What topics hold a special place in your heart? Are you into sci-fi because your mom’s an engineer? Are you trying to re-connect with your Polish heritage through literature? I’d love to hear about it!

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  • Reply Jordyn @ J. Bookish January 27, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Oh my goodness this is wonderful. I wish I could get my thoughts to cooperate with me like you do! Haha I started reading as a child because my sister was 10 years older than me and I wasn’t allowed to play video games or watch much tv. Plus I was really shy and wasn’t going to actually speak to adults when my parents dragged me places! *the horror*! I’m going to have to think about other things that shape my reading habits.

  • Reply Alyssa @ The Devil Orders Takeout January 28, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Hmm, this is interesting. I read a lot of fantasy, I don’t know why … I think that for me, it’s my reading interests that’s shaped me more than the other way round. Like I was a huge A Series of Unfortunate Events fan when I was a kid and didn’t read many fluffy books at that age, so I’m rather morbid about the fate of humanity. And I read a lot of fantasy so I basically just am bored with life all the time?!? Really interesting thoughts here!
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  • Reply Jemma January 28, 2016 at 6:03 am

    What a thought-provoking piece! I found this really interesting. However, when I try to think of things that have shaped my own reading, I don’t really have an answer.

    I feel like my own reading tastes are based on my personality, not necessarily a life event I can pin down. I can be quite the dreamer, wishing for illuminating experiences. Also, I can be a realist with a practical way of looking at the world. I enjoy the psychology of humans and animals. This makes for very varied reading interests! I am quite bad at sticking to “favourite” genres. I do read a lot of fantasy, as I don’t feel that I need to read realistic stuff all the time.

  • Reply Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight January 28, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    First, I adore this post! So, so unique!! I think a lot of my reading interests are based on like, things I wish I could be? I find that I am drawn to books with strong heroines who are perhaps struggling to find themselves, but in the end not willing to settle. And of course, books with amazing romances πŸ˜‰
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  • Reply Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense January 28, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    What a lovely post. I’ve recently had a renewed interest in books written by Latino authors and I’m finding magical realism, a genre very common in Latino literature, to be so rich and enchanting. Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of books in the recreational sense because my family wasn’t very well-off, but I’m making up for lost times and am hoping that I’ll be able to offer by nieces and nephews books that reflected their cultural heritage as well as other amazing reads.

  • Reply ShootingStarsMag January 28, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Fantastic post! I always wish I could remember how I started reading, but honestly, I just always remembering reading. I would read stories before I went to bed when I was little, and I mean, I read them, not my parents reading them TO me. I’m sure they did before I could read, but eventually I just loved reading all on my own. I was the youngest child, but I grew up around a lot of kids so I was often playing outside and having fun. At the same time, I liked taking quiet time to read books I found at the library. I LOVED going to the library

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  • Reply Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight January 29, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Huh, I’ve never really thought about this. That’s interesting to see how the ways you grew up shaped you as a reader! I don’t know if there’s an explanation for why I got into reading in general though; I’ve just always loved words. And I don’t know why I love fantasy and sci-fi so much. But I do love circus books because I used to do circus for a brief period of time, so it holds a special place in my heart. And I think my experiences as of late have made me more eager to understand other people, so I look for books with deep characters who can give me new understanding or who I can relate to πŸ™‚ This is such a great discussion topic!

  • Reply Nicole January 29, 2016 at 11:41 am

    This is super super interesting!!! I’m sure my life experiences have shaped my reading interests too, but I also have no idea how…!?!???? Ugh. I want to think more about this. I really liked the little peek into your experiences though πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing!
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  • Reply This Week at Midnight (98) ⋆ It Starts at Midnight January 29, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    […] Paloma @ Pages and Pineapples shares how her life experiences changed her reading, and want to know if it’s been the same for you! […]

  • Reply Yani January 30, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Oh, Philippines! Hello from here!
    I am not keen to history books but I wish I was. And, to me, it is the opposite, my reading interests shaped my experiences in life. Whatever I’m reading, it affects on how I look up to living. Mostly I really pick the books that would really jab and slapdash me. Last year, my most read genre is YA Contemp but I got sucked at it that I want to DNF every contemp I read so laid low on that and having fun now with YA fantasy! Sci-fi would do. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Alice @ Arctic Books January 31, 2016 at 9:34 am

    This post is really interesting! I also had a really quiet childhood and I didn’t have a sibling until I was 8 or 9 so I would spend a lot of my time reading. I probably got the most reading done in elementary school because my library had so many books! I really loved the Warriors series so I suppose my love for cats may have come from that… or vice versa. Great post!!

  • Reply Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction January 31, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    When I was a kid I had a group of friends that liked to just run around and play pretend together – we had all sorts of fantastical games where we were aliens and such. I think this is what spurred my love of reading fantasy and sci-fi later on!

  • Reply Cilla February 2, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    This is a fabulous post! I haven’t thought about what shaped my reading preferences that much before. The first thing that comes to mind is that my parents used to read me a lot of fairytales and fables, which I think has led to my love for fantasy. Now they’d complain that I read too many ‘unrealistic stories’ but really it was their fault haha.
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  • Reply Retrospect #109–110: February 7 | Word Revel February 7, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    […] Paloma @ Pages and Pineapples related how her life experienced shaped her reading interests. […]

  • Reply Wendy February 14, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Oh, what fun! My next oldest siblings are eleven years older than me, and we didn’t have a TV when I was a kid, so my speed and voraciousness as a reader were definitely shaped by those two factors. I was also influenced by my sisters in that they would buy me books for birthdays, or bring me library books when I was sick, that reflected their own preferences. I got into mysteries because of my sister feeding me Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, then moving me onto Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. The same sister also read Oliver Twist aloud to me, and The Silver Chair from the Narnian Chronicles, igniting a love of Victorian lit and of fantasy.

    Later in life I’ve spent significant amounts of time in Scandinavia and the Baltic states, and I studied a lot of Russian history in college, so northern and eastern Europe are always appealing settings to me. Growing up in Oregon, I’ve also always been interested in reading books that deal with historic or current Northwest Indians–from a childhood love for Sacagawea biographies to a current fascination with the work of Sherman Alexie and Craig Lesley.

  • Reply Becca @ Becca and Books November 3, 2016 at 8:53 am

    WOW. THIS POST IS THE MOST LOVELY, INSIGHTFUL BOOKISH DISCUSSION I HAVE YET READ. We often think of how literature affects our life, but I’ve never thought of how my life affects my literature. Isn’t that fantastic! How we each read a book with such wonderfully different perspectives!
    I’m of mixed race as well, and since my mom is from South India, and story from that region makes me feel so at home. Even more so, a book about an Indian American teen makes me feel like : YES I UNDERSTAND AND YOU’RE MAKING ME UNDERSTAND ABOUT MY LIFE TOO THIS IS GREAT.
    Delightful post ☺️
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