Born and bred a British, Shamima, 16, is all about creativity and self-expression. She wishes to pursue a career in Medicine and pursue her interests in poetry, fashion, writing and maybe in the distant future, property development
Teenagers read! Some find it hard to believe but teens, particularly girls, literally devour books. Books get passed from person to person. Everybody wants to get their hands on the next hot read or is eagerly waiting for the publication of a highly anticipated sequel.
Being an avid reader myself I have read a whole range of books in a short space of 6 years, with personal taste constantly changing. From reading books recommended by others and read by all, I’m discovering new books and genres and authors all the time, finding books that suit my own individual taste.
It was only after noticing the books that my sister (just turned 15), and her year group are reading, (the very same ones/type I had read only a few years ago) it struck me that perhaps there is a pattern in ‘literary development’ in teen girls.
I’d like to share my own literary preferences with you between the ages 10-16 and how each stage corresponded to my personal development at the time.
Prior to age 10:
Unlike writing, reading was not something I had a real interest in initially. It could be something to do with my early difficulty in general learning, reading use dot be very taxing and something for teachers to test you on from time to time. Whatever it was; reading was certainly not something I would have spent my spare time doing.
I remember going to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and coming out feeling utterly perplexed, having failed to have grasped the plot of the story. So I got reading. It was a pleasant surprise to find it funny with clever twists and a hooking plot, characters you can’t help but adore and feel for, it was an adventure between covers and I was hooked beginning to end.
The books I read in those two years were action packed, with adventure, excitement and a touch of magic. To date I have read all the Harry Potter books at least 3 times each, apart from the 7th book which I’ve only read once so far.
My career aspiration of that time was an archaeologist (amongst others); I wanted to travel the world, have breath-taking adventures and to uncover the secrets and mysteries of hidden eras.
Character-wise, I was lively and on-the-go, always looking for excitement and thrills. And in my writing, my characters were adventurers and world-defenders with magic powers of some sort and usually living in different dimensions of earth!
Explosion of the teen-lit heading towards chick-lit! Typical books directed at teenage girls where my focus. Looking back I feel they lacked story and plot, and real feeling. The characters were self obsessed and vain and well – the stereotypical teenager. They covered 3 main topics, teen romance (if romance is quite the word), friends (or BFF’s), fashion/accessories. The only books I can really recall are the Mates, Dates books, a particularly large collection of books. From there I went to chick lit, which covered the same topics only a little mature-er and with real humour this time and love you can confidently describe as love.
I may be a little too critical of my pre-teen self, but to be honest; I feel I was a vain, self obsessed typical teenager. There was nothing of real interest in my life; it was just fun, fun, fun.
Career aspirations were interior designer or fashion designer (preferably the latter, I’m sure), something glamorous.
The characters in my stories had mutated into chatty girls who spent all day with their friends/on their phones/shopping/social networking and fretting about more or less everything, they were continuously looking for ways to prove themselves.
This is around the time I tumbled upon the reality principle. I was engrossed in real life stories about hardships faced by people, family problems, homelessness, abuse, deaths, proper and heartbreaking romance, about lost dreams and loneliness. I began to see the world in a new light; it was a place of struggle and hardship and of endless suffering. There was a desperate desire to be able to do something about it; it was everywhere all of a sudden, my eyes were opened to all the ugly things I hadn’t realised existed. Maybe a little too much for me to cope with at the time but I wanted to/needed to know it.
I took a keen interest in psychology and wanted to be some sort of therapist, helping people with life problems.
My stories had also taken on a serious edge, my characters were lost and in some sort of mental pain, the aim of the plot was to resolve these problems.
Having started my GCSE’s I had to put my head down and focus. I started earlier with sciences and was doing well, I enjoyed them particularly. As for books, I avoided them like a disease; reducing 2-3 books in a week to 1-2 in a month, they were just too distracting.
This was when I decided that I want to be a doctor, that it was possible. And it is a career choice that I was/am completely serious about, it felt right somehow, like I’d find a place I belonged.
My story (one that I am currently working on), is about a girl, a young adult, over coming odds and eventually discovering herself, learning to love herself and making a difference in society.
I’ve developed an interest in stories about real people and their struggles in life, really inspiring and courageous women in particular. They are stories of hope and of possibility, strength in loss and difficulty. They are books I strongly recommend in hope they may motivate and inspire others to be hopeful of the future and to have both faith and force to overcome the darkest of shadows.