Monday 26 July 2021

What Carry On Means To Me

It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Usually, I don’t choose favourites because I love far too many books to even narrow it down to a list of ten, but I do know that Carry On is one of the books that has had the biggest impact on my reading, and whenever someone does ask me for my favourite book, it’s this one that always comes to mind. With Any Way the Wind Blows bringing the conclusion to Simon and Baz’s story, I wanted to take a moment to talk about why I love this story so much. 

my Carry On shelf so far (i have more editions i want to add and i won't rest until i get them)

I’ve been a fan of Rainbow ever since I read the blurb for Fangirl because I just knew that Cath was going to speak to me on a spiritual level, and I was absolutely correct. Fangirl resonated with me in a way no other YA contemporary has done before. As a socially anxious, fandom loving, fic consuming, classic 2012 Tumblr Girl, Fangirl spoke to my soul. It was also the first time I’d ever seen my own anxiety accurately represented on a page. Previous books I’d read that dealt with anxiety just didn’t feel like what I was personally going through, but Fangirl did, and that has always been so important to me. 

the Carry On theme bookmark i painted!
the Carry On themed bookmark i painted!

Even though I adored Fangirl with my whole heart, I didn’t expect to utterly fall in love with Carry On as much as I did when it dropped through my letterbox in October 2015. I was excited, of course, but I had no idea that this book was about to become 90% of my personality

I enjoyed the first part of the book, but when Baz dramatically walked through the Watford doors and we discovered that he’d been in love with his roommate and nemesis for years, that was when I realised just how much I needed a book like this. It dragged me in like no other book had done before

my Watford shirt and the poster that still provides the background to my booktube videos 

After reading Carry On, I realised why I’d been in a reading slump for a while. I was tired of the same stories and the same tropes told the same way. YA fantasy was overrun with heterosexual heroes having to save the world whilst torn between two heterosexual love interests, and Carry On showed me just how much I needed to break away from those stories. I wanted characters of all identities, I wanted characters who question their ‘chosen one’ status, and stories that challenge happily ever after. 

I specifically went searching for fantasy stories with queer characters because Carry On made me realise just how much I needed them. The online fan community gave me recommendations based on Carry On, and that led me to discover a lot of the series I now adore. I ended up delving into Six of Crows and completely fell in love with it. A year later, I was able to see Rainbow and Leigh on tour together, which is one of the happiest book-related memories I have! 

the Worlds Collide tour in 2016!

When it came to compiling a list of the books that I felt had defined the decade the most for me at the end of 2019, I placed Carry On in the top spot. Despite all of the amazing and eye-opening stories I’ve read throughout the years, I know that this book is the one that changed my tastes and shaped my reading future the most

I’m so utterly grateful to Rainbow for sharing these stories with us, and for making me question what I want to be looking for in the books that I read. Simon and Baz will always have such a special place in my heart.

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