A Timeline of Books

By Neha, Grade 9

Reflecting upon my middle school years, I’ve noticed a dramatic shift in my reading taste from then until I started freshman year. When I was younger, in my pre-teen years, I would almost always reach for fantasy and science fiction novels over choosing any sort of realistic fiction or memoir. These days, I feel more of a pull towards the more realistic and teen-fiction genres than the magical and fantastical worlds that are captured in fantasy and science fiction. I also feel like I’ve developed more of an individual taste than I had from grades six to eight. When I was in middle school, I would often lean towards the most popular series and the ones that were recommended to me by my friends, rather than exploring and choosing reads based on what stood out to me personally. These days, I think I’ve improved at choosing my own reads, and making recommendations to my friends. 

In sixth grade, I had one of my biggest fixations on a series that I’ve ever experienced. For almost the entire year, I was reading and re-reading the Wings of Fire series. This series is an example of one that’s very purely fantasy, with next to no realism at all. The books are about a group of dragons on a mythical continent who have to stop wars, go on adventures, and navigate the struggles of growing up. As evident, there wasn’t much in this series for me to relate to, but I think that was one of the aspects that drew me to the series so much. It felt like a fun way to escape reality, especially in the peak of COVID. My whole friend group read the series at the same time, and we had many discussions, debates, and conversations about these books, which led to a lot of bonding between us. Even years later, we crack the occasional Wings of Fire joke and poke fun at ourselves for being so obsessed with the novels in sixth grade. I think that Wings of Fire was an excellent series for the sixth grade age range, full of laughter and adventure, and I applaud Tui T Sutherland for writing a series that was able to make me so happy, and remain a core memory with my friends. 

The Dragonet Prophecy

In seventh grade, I wasn’t as obsessed with one series as I was in sixth grade. I dabbled in a couple of different genres, reading classics for the first time, like Little Women and Animal Farm at the beginning of the year. After finishing both of those, I promptly decided that classics were not for me, and went straight back to the genres I was comfortable with. Several of my friends were reading the Lunar Chronicles series at that time, and they urged me to try it as well, so I did. The dystopian settings and the dark theme were enticing to me, and I devoured the whole series quickly. Before then, I hadn’t read books with as much death and destruction in them, and I enjoyed all the darkness of the Lunar Chronicles, as I felt that it added a stronger sense of intensity and urgency to fix problems to the plot. Another read in seventh grade with similar themes was the Arc of a Scythe series, which aligned with the darkness that I was enjoying. Arc of a Scythe was less fantasy, but was still dystopian, and it was about teens, which I enjoyed. I think this series was one of the ones that made me realize that I preferred series with people my own age as main characters rather than people older or younger than me. I finished the year reading the Matched and Divergent series, which are both dark teen dystopias as well. 



Little Women

Animal Farm

Eighth grade was almost like a transition year for me. I started to move out of my phase of wanting to read books with death as a central theme, and started to prefer teen novels about self-discovery. An example of my eighth grade taste was the Heartstopper series. It was the first time I had opened up to reading graphic novels, and I absolutely loved them. During this time, I was seeking more relatable main characters, since I was going through the uncertainty of my last year of middle school, and nervously awaiting the major change from middle to high school. Heartstopper helped me overcome some of those nerves because I was able to see through the eyes of high schoolers. I was able to see that although many high schoolers have insecure and nervous rough patches, high school can still be a super fun time period to make a lot of memories with friends. So after reading Heartstopper, I felt a lot less nervous to transition to high school. I also found myself reading less in eighth grade than other years, since my schoolwork and extracurricular commitments had increased by a lot. I was only able to read a few other novels in addition to Heartstopper that year, but they were mostly other teen fiction pieces that didn’t influence my taste in the same way that Heartstopper did. 


Looking back on how my taste evolved through the years, I can see that I never really had one preferred genre or style, since it changed so much. In broad terms, I would say my preferred genres shifted from fantasy to realistic fiction, but it really goes deeper than that. I think my middle school years were some of my most adventurous reading years, and I look forward to exploring even more styles and genres throughout the rest of my high school career and beyond.