The Psychology of Books


brain_book1Minus the slightly educational-sounding, this is an interesting topic — at least I think so. There’s been some research about the benefits of reading such as gaining knowledge, growing with empathy and compassion, lowering stress, and a whole bunch of stuff. There’s also research on the thought processes involved in picking books that you read. We define what we read as much as it defines us.

What really amazes me is how everyone can read the same book but interpret it completely different and have it affect us on so many levels. It’s crazy to think that our past experiences, imagination, memories, emotions, and so on can influence how we view a particular book. I don’t know about you but sometimes, I feel like I have to be in the right frame of mind to read certain books. Sometimes, I read a book and feel like my 15-year-old self would’ve enjoyed it more than my present self.


I have read from a whole array of genres and none have stuck more to me than Fantasy. I love fantasy books because of how they transport you to a new world. It’s not the regular mundane life. Sometimes it a mix of the real world with the fantasy world, such as incorporating faeries, vampires, angels into our world. ExamplesThe Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. Sometimes it’s high fantasy, where its a whole new world and different fictional monsters. ExamplesThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.

As for favorite books, I have to have great characters with great romance. Their story has to really capture me. What makes a book an automatic favorite for me is how deeply I connect with the main character. If I relate to the character and see myself doing what they did in similar situations then it usually becomes a favorite for me. Action is also important for me. I need something to move the plot along. I need things to happen. As for writing, sometimes it’s make it or break it for people, but I’m not too picky. I mean Twilight by Stephenie Meyer was a favorite of mine and you know that wasn’t the best writing.

Sometimes books that were once my favorites become just a memory. I don’t know what happens. I can pinpoint it for some books and then for others, it’s a mystery. ExampleTwilight was ruined for me because of the movies. I can’t un-see the movies and that just made me hate the books. Then, there are series/trilogies that were my favorites until I read the last book. This happened to me with Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan and The Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo. I hated how they need and I couldn’t see the other books in the same light anymore.

There are books where I know they’re my favorite but I’m not as compelled to reread them like my other favorites. Example: I love, love, love The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins but I can never read it again. On the other hand, I’ve read The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare once a year since Clockwork Princess was released. And I’ve read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han three times … just this year! Finally, there are books like Divergent by Veronica Roth and Bloodlines by Richelle Mead. I was in love with these books and then I lost interest after reading it. No explanation really and I still wonder why. I know there are great characters, writing, plot and so on. My brain processes that but then my heart is like nope.

I thought this was really interesting because it’s crazy how our brain processes all of this and how we’re all so different but the same, too. I wanted to see if any other bookworms feel the same way I do or have gone through the “favorite-not-favorite” thing with books. Sorry for the long post and bless you if you read the entire post.

How does your bookish brain look like? Here are some of my questions for you: 

  1. What is your favorite genre and why?
  2. Do you have an internal checklist the you check off in order for a book to be a favorites?
  3. Ever had a book that was a favorite and years later, you find that it’s no longer true? What makes you stop liking a book you once loved?
  4. What makes you more inclined to pick up a certain book? (Is it because it falls under a certain genre? Is it the cover? Is it the synopsis? Do you read the first line/chapter and decide that you’ll get it? Do you pick books because of recommendations? Was the title appealing? Is it a mix of all these?)
  5. Have you ever felt that a book you just read would have suited you more at a different age or time than when you actually read it?
Of course, you are under no obligation to answer these questions but I would really love to hear your thoughts and discuss!

About Anjie @ Love thy Shelf

Hello there -- call me Anjie! I made this book blog where I can put down all my bookish ramblings and talk to those who have the same interests!
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27 Responses to The Psychology of Books

  1. I guess I stop liking a book when it’s too childish… I can’t envoy them the same way I used to. I can appreciate them but that’s it.

    Contemporary hasn’t always been my favorite drama but mystery has.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Josephine says:

    This is an awesome topic! My favourite genre of all time would have to be the same as yours – fantasy. There’s something about it that just keeps me coming back.

    Basically my internal checklist consists of good characters that are developed and created well. If I cant connect to the characters at all, then we’ve got a problem. But most of the time it’s not a conscious thing for me.

    I haven’t found a favourite book of mine that I suddenly don’t think as a favourite but I’m sure its bound to happen as I get older, because I think we do grow out of our old preferences.

    And I pick up a book for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost (and guiltily) the cover. I need something that catches my eye. Next? The blurb/synopsis, however these can be misleading and even spoilery at times. Then everything else comes into play.

    I LOVED THIS TOPIC so much! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice! My “checklist” for favorites is also done unconsciously and most of the times, they’re just books that tug at my heart. Haha, you’re not the only one who buys because of the cover, there’s a lot more of us than you think. Publishers really need to choose book covers wisely because they’re like the first impressions of the book.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment Josie!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Danni Mae says:

    I feel like I’m the kind of person that if I love a book once, I’ll always love it. Maybe it’s because I haven’t changed much since I was little, but I like to think it’s just that I know what I love. Or at least I love that I loved it so I trick myself into thinking it’s better than it is. Who knows?
    But I’m generally (always) the type of person that picks a book based on the cover. I feel like covers generally match their stories. (A good example of this is Wonder, with it’s minimalist cover and simplistic writing style.) I’m the shallow type that keeps scrolling until she finds a cover she likes =P

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, yeah we’ll never really know how our brain functions and why we love certain books so much. Maybe I should start tricking myself haha I like the idea of always loving the book.
      Yeah I can definitely see some covers matching the books. Then, there’s some that really surprise me haha.


  4. Carolyn says:

    My favorite genre would probably be fantasy or science fiction. I love reading about worldbuilding and possibilites. I don’t really have an internal checklist for a book to be my favorite but there’s somewhat of a trend with my favorite books. Most of them have romantic subplots and are well-written (imo). Sometimes I like a certain aspect of a book so much that it overshadows its flaws. Like the worldbuilding wasn’t the best for The Winner’s Curse but I loved the characters so much that I was willing to overlook it. I haven’t had favorites that are no longer favorites because for me. I’ve had books that I’ve liked at initial reaction but upon thinking about it, would give it a lower rating than I would have because the initial reading experience puts a big impact on me. I’m more inclined to pick up a book that sounds like an epic adventure with a touch of romance. There are also some buzzwords for me that I will be immediately interested in, like princesses or Asian characters etc. There’s a process I go through that tells me if I should pick it up at least when I’m browsing a bookstore. I look at the cover and if I like it, then I will read the synopsis. Then I flip to page 60 or so in the book, I start reading a few sentences and if I like it, I’ll get it haha. It’s a very specific process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s one of my favorite things about fantasy and sci-fi! I love seeing how imaginative an author gets when creating their world. I have the utmost respect for authors who build a whole new world, with religions, and even languages. You can see how much planning they’ve put into their book!

      Almost all of my favorite books have a wonderful romantic subplot. I just have to have that romance, full of feels, shipping, and cuteness haha. I also do the same with some books where other aspects of it were so amazing, it overshadowed what I didn’t like for example, Crown of Midnight haha.

      Wow, I hadn’t thought about how much of an impact that initial reading experience is and it’s so true! I think it’s because we’re still so sucked into that world that we feel like it’s a lot better than it actually is. Maybe I should wait a day or so after reading a book before doing reviews.

      That is a really specific process! It’s a good idea, too! I like princesses and Asians, too. I haven’t read too many books with Asian main characters and I’m hoping to find more! When picking a book, I try not to look at ratings because everyone thinks so differently, so sometimes I’ll sit there and read the first chapter haha

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! It means a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carolyn says:

        Yeah I should not look at ratings too even though I can’t help myself. Sometimes I get too into the hype and end up regretting it lol :/
        Hehe, that is why I love Tumblr, because I can fangirl about all my OTPs and the feels and shipping
        Yup! I remember when I first read The Hunger Games, I couldn’t stop reading and I was soooo into it, like edge-of-my-seat into it haha and I was in a book hangover from it for a few days until I really thought about it. I still love it but now I can see the good and bad in it.
        Lol you must spend a while in a bookstore then if you read the first chapter :p but then again so does every book-lover..

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hahah, I try to stay away from hype, too! When I listen to all the hype, I end up building this extremely high expectation of the book and then I usually get disappointed — so I really try not to read other people’s reviews haha.
          YES! Tumblr is the best place to do that and I love how, even though people don’t ship the same people, it’s still fun to talk about it and gather evidence as to why a ship will become end game haha.
          Oooh. I haven’t read Hunger Games in a long time but I loved it right away, I kind of don’t want to reread it just in case I don’t love it as much as before and it stops becoming a favorite haha
          Hahah yeah I spend hours in a bookstore and it’s the best. I also spend a long time because I like hanging by the YA section and see what books people pick up and see if I can strike a conversation over it haha — I try not being a creeper though.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Carolyn says:

            Haha, people on Tumblr will ship anything though. It’s kind of crazy but cool at the same time. And yeah, people on Tumblr will look analyze the smallest glance and make it into something big haha.
            Oh gosh I know, I love talking about books with random people even though they probably think I’m really weird. The awkward thing is sometimes, they’re one of those casual fans who read it and like it but don’t like talking about it in depth. They’ll just say, “yeah, I liked it, it was good”. I’m like, “that’s it?? but don’t you want to talk about that cliffhanger ending???” lol


            • Yes,they would take a glance and make it mean like the characters were mentally kissing each other haha
              I do the same when talk to them! I’m always like come on! Give me some more information, tell me how you felt haha

              Liked by 1 person

  5. 1. What is your favorite genre and why?
    -Favorite genre is fantasy, hands down. For me, books are meant to be an escape from reality, so those that occur in every day life just don’t have the same appeal. That being said, sometimes fantasy can go over the top and really pushes the limits of my capacity for suspended disbelief (too many wizards and dragons doing impossible things!). So my preference would be for fantasy tales that seem like maybe they *could* happen and aren’t heavily based in magic or mythological creatures.
    2. Do you have an internal checklist the you check off in order for a book to be a favorites?
    -Not a formal checklist, but there are definitely specific things that will sway my favor. The story needs to be multi-faceted, like an onion being peeled back. I don’t want to see all of these layers obviously coming ahead of time, but they can’t just pop up out of nowhere either. My favorites will have a surprise that I totally didn’t see coming, but when I re-read the book/series I find myself saying “I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on that before!”.
    The writing style of the author is important too. I want to read not just for the plot but also to enjoy the phrases and words the author uses to create the story. (Saying that makes me feel super nerdy now…lol)
    The characters need to be deep and portrayed as real people. No cookie-cutter arch-typical character types. Flat characters ruin it for me, no matter how good the story is.
    3. Ever had a book that was a favorite and years later, you find that it’s no longer true? What makes you stop liking a book you once loved?
    -Yes, that happened to me with the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. What changed it for me wasn’t my opinion of the individual books. Rather I really didn’t like the ending of the series, so that kind of ruined the books leading up to it.
    4. What makes you more inclined to pick up a certain book? (Is it because it falls under a certain genre? Is it the cover? Is it the synopsis? Do you read the first line/chapter and decide that you’ll get it? Do you pick books because of recommendations? Was the title appealing? Is it a mix of all these?)
    -I hate to admit judging a book by its cover, but that really is what gives me a first impression of a book. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, but I’m like a raccoon. I like glittery things and pretty things, so a beautiful cover will automatically make me pick up a book to have a look inside. Recommendations/reviews are helpful too, but like you mentioned, the reasons why you enjoy a book can vary greatly from person to person. I look at what things reviewers mention repeatedly rather than just a single opinion.
    I confess, I sometimes read the last page of a book (or series, if it’s complete) before deciding whether or not I want to read it. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I’ve been let down before big time (see #3) and I don’t want to invest the time if I’m going to hate the end. I know it’s kind of cheating. ^_^;
    5. Have you ever felt that a book you just read would have suited you more at a different age or time than when you actually read it?
    -The Harry Potter series came out when I was in college and I loved reading it, but I kind of feel disappointed that I didn’t get to enjoy that experience the first time as a kid. Almost like I missed out on half of the experience?

    This was a really interesting post! I’m looking forward to reading other people’s comments too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! That’s how I feel about contemporaries. I like the escape from reality feel from fantasy books. What are some of your favorite fantasy books?
      Oh cool, I haven’t heard that about how people pick favorites. Some of my favorites are the ones I never thought of liking and then something just happens while you’re reading it and boom, it’s like it’s an entirely new book.
      That’s the same thing that happened to me. It’s crazy that one book can ruin the rest of the books in a series/trilogy for us. I wonder why that happens, why we can love the other books of the series but then not like them when the ending wasn’t good haha
      Oh hahaha I’ve always wanted to read the last pages but I can never make myself do it. If it’s a series that I love, I really try not to because I want to be surprised. I do skim to the end if I’m reading a book and it’s kind of boring me. I want to see if it picks up lol. I try not to judge by its cover because some can be very deceitful so if it’s a really beautiful cover, I’ll do some research on it before picking it up
      I feel the same way about Harry Potter. They came out when I was a kid but my parents didn’t let me read them because of wizards and witches and I just picked the up earlier this year and it was amazing! I wish I got to be a part of the midnight release parties for the books.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment! I really appreciate your input!


      • My absolute favorite fantasy books are The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. It’s a huge reading commitment since the series consists of 14 *massive* books, but the degree of world-building and character development is above any beyond anything else I’ve ever read. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen and The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. Both are part of trilogies and the second books were released in the last few months. I’ve bought both of them already, but since there will be such a long time before the final books come out I’m hesitant to read either one. It’s like having a delicious piece of candy that you can’t wait to eat, but you also don’t want to eat it because it will be a long time before you can have it again. lol

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ohhh never heard of them, I’ll have to look them up! Woah! 14 books?!? Wow, yeah I bet that they have amazing world building and character development with incredible detail. I still have to read The Winner’s Curse. I’ve had the first book for a couple months now. Hopefully, I can read it next month. Haha, I do the same when I have to wait a long time before the next book comes out.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a great topic!
    I know what you mean. There are a couple of series that I used to read pre-YA when I was younger and have gone back and tried to reread and thought “I used to LOVE these. How do they seem so different?” But I think it’s just that way sometimes. As we get older and as we read more books, especially now that i’m blogging, things might stand out to me and bug me when I didn’t notice them before.
    As far as rereading, if it’s a YA series that I really like, I can always reread it.
    – What is your favorite genre and why?
    I feel like it’s always changing for me. It’s funny how you can slowly see your preferences changing as far as books. Fantasy has slowly crept up on me and I can say that it’s pretty much become my favorite genre now. How did that happen? I don’t know. Even in the books that i’m really excited about or my most anticipated releases, i’m noticing it’s slowly transitioning to mostly Fantasy and Sci-Fi. So, Sci-Fi and Fantasy for this one.
    – Do you have an internal checklist the you check off in order for a book to be a favorites?
    I usually just get this feeling. And i’ll just KNOW that it’s going to be a favorite. When I rate books, my general rule is that a book only get five stars (which I take pretty seriously) if I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it. Or if it’s a fav series of mine – Throne of Glass books will always get five stars pretty much no matter what.
    – Ever had a book that was a favorite and years later, you find that it’s no longer true? What makes you stop liking a book you once loved?
    I talked about this a little bit above. But one example is the Airhead series by Meg Cabot. I read that series when I was maybe 13 and first getting into YA. I LOVED it at the time. A couple of years later, I reread it and COULDN’T STAND IT. There were so many things that drove me crazy about it and I realized that I hated the MC. I think our preferences change as we get older, and the more we read the more we realize things that bug us about books. 12 or 13 year old me didn’t pick up on all those annoying things yet.
    – What makes you more inclined to pick up a certain book? (Is it because it falls under a certain genre? Is it the cover? Is it the synopsis? Do you read the first line/chapter and decide that you’ll get it? Do you pick books because of recommendations? Was the title appealing? Is it a mix of all these?)
    It’s usually the synopsis. The more interesting it sounds to me, the more likely it is that I will end up reading it. I can be persuaded to pick up a book I wasn’t interested in initially by the cover (The Winner’s Curse and These Broken Stars) or really really great reviews (The Wrath and The Dawn) or if it’s an author that I read before and loved, I’ll read it no matter what.
    – Have you ever felt that a book you just read would have suited you more at a different age or time than when you actually read it?
    I haven’t really thought about this before, but Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I thought it was cute and I liked it, but there were so many little things that bugged me so much and I feel like a younger, less analytic me would have loved it. Younger me would have thought the lack of romance and Cath’s nervousness and weird hand holding thing was great. Whereas now, when I read it, I was so irritated by it.
    That was so much fun! Thanks for the great discussion!
    Olivia @ Fluttering Pages

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel the same way about changing genres. Before I read The Hunger Games, most of my books were adult fiction, Nicholas Sparks, and Jodi Picoult but then I got into Sci-Fi and it changed. Now I mostly read Fantasy and I don’t think that’ll change anytime soon haha

      Haha I like how you say you just have this feeling — that’s so hard to describe what that “feeling” is but I totally understand you.

      That’s great to see that I’m not the only one that loses interest in some books. Maybe our preferences or just our selves mature where the writing, plot, or message of a book no longer fit us. That’s true that we’re changing constantly and reading other books opens your eyes to better MCs, plots, and writing and then when you go back to book you once loved, it’s not the same anymore.

      Yes! If they’re my favorite authors, I’m most likely going to pick up the book, even without reading the synopsis. That’s what I did for ACOTAR lol. I picked up These Broken Stars because of the cover, too!

      I felt the same way about Fangirl! I thought that if I had read before some other books with similar plots, or right when I was starting college, I would’ve appreciated it more and would’ve related to Cath more! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply!


  7. 1. I love fantasy, for much the same reasons as you do, they transport you to a new world, and there are so many great characters and usually lots of adventure and exciting stuff like sword fights (as one example).
    2. I guess my internal checklist is do I like/connect with/understand/empathise with the characters of the book, & does the story interest and engage me, that’s all I really need.
    3. I’ve never found that but since I’m still a teenager and my reading tasted haven’t changed much, it’s understandable. I’m sure there are books that I read when I was a young kid that I wouldn’t like now, but I’ve got rid of all those!
    4. I do look for books of certain genres, I’m far more likely to pick up a fantasy or a dystopian than a contemporary for instance but there are comtemporaries that I’ve read and loved. The synopsis contributes hugely for me, if I’m hooked by the synopsis then I’ll read the book pretty much. Titles are important in getting me to check out the book in the first place and I go off recommendations more now that I blog, I’ve found, so I guess it is a mixture of things!
    5. No, I’ve never found that. I’ve read books intended for younger age ranges before, but I’ve always enjoyed them and never feel like I’ve missed out just because I’m slightly older than the target age range.
    Really interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I think that’s why contemporary books aren’t my favorite. They don’t have that high action, sword-fighting, or bow-and-arrow stuff! I think that would be my internal checklist, too because all of my favorites have those in common. Yeah, that’s true that we probably won’t still like books from our childhood years and probably because along with us, our brains really mature and move onto different topics that we do want to read about. The synopsis of books are very important to me, too. I try not to just judge on that because sometimes publishers give really dry synopses or they focus on one aspect of the story that I don’t particularly like. I try to read the first chapter of the books that do interest me. I take recommendations from book bloggers that usually like the same books that I do. As for reading books at a wrong time, I haven’t found too many books like that for me, maybe a couple handfuls. I Percy Jackson when I was a year into college and those books were written for 8th graders haha and I love them!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and taking time to read and comment! I really appreciate it! I love hearing how different everyone is when it comes to picking books and favorites!


      • Yup me too, I need the high action, bow and arrow stuff, not all the time, like I said I’ve read some good contemporaries, but most of the time I like my books more fast paced. I agree, although having said that there are some books from my childhood that I wouldn’t mind rereading, but I definitely prefer reading about different topics now. Yeah, I agree the synopsis can be a little dry and I have been known to flick through the first chapters of books in book shops! I wasn’t much older than the recommended age range for Percy Jackson when I started reading them, I was 14, but I finished Heroes of Olympus this year and I’m 18! I love them so much. No problem, your post really made me think and I want to share my thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fast paced books are the best. I tend to get bored when reading slow paced books, even books that start up slowly but then picks up after like 10 chapters. I need something that will pick me up right away. I think contemporaries just have a different kind of action, more drama related haha.

          What I don’t get is this: I loved the Percy Jackson series, everything about it. The characters were fantastic and the writing was on point. I read Heroes of Olympus and I liked them but just not as much and I didn’t like how it ended either. I don’t know if time made a difference there because I read PJO all within a couple of days of each other but for Heroes, I had to wait until Mark of Athena, House of Hades, and Blood of Olympus was released. I think I was also expecting a bigger Percy Jackson, Annabeth, and Grover presence and I was disappointed when it didn’t happen. I feel like I’m the only one who didn’t love Heroes of Olympus lol


          • I read a mixture, it depends what I’m reading, with dystopias and fantasy I expect it to be fast paced right from the off, but mysteries, I don’t mind if it builds a little. I also like reading some slower books, as it gives you a breather between fast paced books! Yes, contemporaries definitely have a more drama related action. I have to agree on that actually, I agree, I liked Heroes of Olympus, but not as much (although like you, I did read PJO in a shorter time space), and like you I was hoping for a bigger Percy, Annabeth and Grover presence. I think I didn’t like them as much maybe because of the addition of Jason, I wasn’t so keen on him, or Piper. You are definitely not the only one, I liked them, but I wouldn’t say I loved them.

            Liked by 1 person

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