Discussion: Why Shipping Is Important To Me

Discussion-Shipping.jpg

Divider-ArrowsI have always been a shipper, and will always proudly admit to that. My first reading experience was manga such as Detective Conan – where I began rooting for Shinichi and Ran to get together, even at the tender age of 6. Similarly, I became overly invested in the mysterious and thrilling romance between Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask. It seems that whenever I care about a work of fiction, my emotional investment lead me to root for these characters and their relationships.

While I agree that romance should not be the be all and end all of either fiction or real life, I simply enjoy that part of my reading experience. So, when I noticed that there’s a trend to condemn the proliferation of romance in young adult fiction and beyond, it makes me sad-face a little. I want to dedicate a post to why I enjoy seeing romance in fiction!

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1. It Keeps The Fandom Alive

There’s nothing more agonising than the wait between books when you’re reading a series, but fandom make the wait less painful. In general, I find that it’s the shippers that plow on most passionately, whether they’re creating fanart, writing fanfiction or just plain shouting out their love for the book on twitterverse.

I recently finished A Court of Mist and Fury – and I am dying to get the next book. Meanwhile though, I am still getting to relive the book by seeing gorgeous fanart (have you seen this one by Charlie Bowater? Or these by Phantom Rin?) and reading discussions on tumblr. I like that fandom with its shippers allow me to re-experience the books without having to reread it (I totally reread it via Audible though *shameless fangirl*)

I also recall my time in the Bleach manga fandom as a shipper – where my love for Ichigo/Rukia as a pairing was pretty much the only thing that kept me reading the series. While we waited between chapters, there were many extensive discussions about character arcs and motivation stemming from the idea of their possible romance. Shipping is not all mindless fangirling, I don’t think I would have speculated and wondered so much about these individual characters without these lengthy talks.

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2. It Draws You To A Book

I admit that my intention to read The Raven Cycle one day mainly stem from my curiousity about the good ship Pynch – the fans are just so passionate about it. Similarly, I was only drawn to continue reading Throne of Glass despite my misgivings about the first book due to the overwhelming love the fandom had for its many ships and for Celaena. Sure, the shipping war might get out of hand at times (as it did over the last week on Twitter D:) – but ultimately, the passion and creativity in the vast majority of fans drew me into the world again.

There are also certain tropes that I enjoy seeing in fiction, many of them are romantic ones. See my previous post on which they are HERE. Within the last month, I acquired and plan to read both Radiance and Ruined due to the promise of the arranged marriage plot. Swoon!

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3. It Means You’re Invested In The Characters

In my opinion, readiness for readers to start shipping people in your book or show is a mark that your characters have enough depth for people to care about. Personally, for me to enjoy a ship, I have to enjoy each of the characters individually, as well as they way in which they interact. Even in books where romance was not the intended outcome between two characters, the chemistry between well-developed interactions could lead to fans putting their shipper goggles on and continue with their merry way. You only have to look at the plethora of Draco/Hermione or Sam/Dean fanfiction out there to concede that this is true.
There’s also the spin off to this, where people become devoted to friendships or other platonic or familial relationships instead of a romantic one. E.g. In my heart of heart, my one true ship in Game of Thrones is Stark/Winterfell, there must always be a Stark in the North, damn it!

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4. It Connects Me To Other Fans

Although I am friends with plenty of people who have different viewpoints to myself when it comes to shipping- I think being fans of fellow ships have allowed me to discover so many new friends. For example, after my wallpaper posts of the Six of Crow pairings, I found so many Kaz/Inej devotees like myself, and I could not be happier.

There’s also that bliss of sharing your favourite quotes and moments between an OTP that only shippers can understand and support one another in. It draws out the creativity in so many fans – in the form of both art, fanfiction, fan graphics and even fan videos – these go on to fuel the fandom by drawing in new consumers of the work of fiction. So inane shipping wars? They’re a small price to pay for the overwhelming amount of great things that shippers can accomplish.

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Again, I want to stress that wanting to find a book that is devoided of romance is not a bad thing at all – some of my favourite reads this year are completely devoided of romance (see: A Tale For The Time Being and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August). However, I dislike seeing romance and shippers being dismissed as silly, or dramatic, or even as instigators of fandom wars. Unfortunately, there will always be discourse when you have a large group of people mixing their viewpoint on a common topic. Nonetheless, we should remember that shipping definitely has its place in the fandom – and to remember about the good stuff ships can do before dismissing the whole lot as crazy fangirl talk.

What about you? How important is shipping and romance to your own reading experience?

45 thoughts on “Discussion: Why Shipping Is Important To Me

  1. Teeheehee. This post fills me with the giddy because I used to be such a shipper too, especially during my high school/uni years. I’ve shipped TONS of couples – IchiRuki actually happens to be a big one as well, though my love for Bleach will always lie with HitsuMatsu. (Also I don’t read it anymore but HITSUGAYA grew up wth). God, the fanfiction I wrote. I was more active in the Naruto fandom though. 😛

    I don’t know what it is about books that don’t make me as much a shipper as I was with anime/manga… but I have some thoughts. I think it’s because for me shipping is more exciting when the couple isn’t canon or due to be canon. With the majority of the books, I feel like pairings are quite obvious, so I tend to not support them as strongly because (in my head) they’re gonna happen anyway.

    Also animanga are very visual by nature, so I tend to be able to imagine lots of things happening in between what’s shown to us. I think this one is just me, though.

    Sorry, this went on a different tangent from your post. To answer your question… I LOVE romance and generally gravivate towards books with them, and I think it adds another layer to a book that books without romance don’t typically have. Shipping isn’t as important to me as it was, but I still ship some couples (Lila/Kell from ADSOM being one, I dunno what it is about them).

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  2. Yes to all these!! I hate how people so easily dismiss people who maybe only read romance. It’s something I look really forward to in a book and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just because a book has romance doesn’t mean it won’t be as good as the others 😐 I’ve loved books that didn’t have as much romance but it really helps me get invested in the story and characters. I love side stories just as much as the main plot in a book 😀

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  3. Since I’m such a character driven reader, I love ships a LOT. I love being able to fall in love with the characters falling in love (ha!). That being said, while I do commit to some ships in certain series, I don’t really get so invested into certain ships that I will go on shipping wars with people. I like my stuff and you like yours. Easy. Done. Which also means I’m willing to go with whatever the story goes. I know a lot of people stopped reading ToG because their ship sunk, but I’m like hey people change can’t really control that–but some people are really dedicated (sigh).

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  4. shipping is just amazing, it’s also a really good way to make friends. Just because a book has romance in it doesn’t make it a good novel. even having an amazing friendship in a novel/series is a great thing. I feel like reading a novel and being about to get emotionally connected to a characters relationship with another character is a good thing.sometimes I like see a friendship between two characters and it reminds me of a relationship I have with someone else in my life and I think thats a really cool thing.
    – Yasmin

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  5. Ah, Aentee! Back in the blogosphere and I’m already so full of joy as your post is the first post I have read for a while. I missed reading your posts, and I must say this topic is one I adore and I love your take on it!

    I think shipping is great, for all the reasons you mentioned. I feel so much more a part of the community through shipping and having that common ship with other readers. And definitely, it allows me to connect more with the characters!

    What a wonderful post! ❤️

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  6. Love this topic. I’m not a fan of romance in books because I’m not a romance gal in general, so I don’t tend to ship romantically (though I admit of shipping Pynch). I do like friendshipping (that’s what I’m calling it lol), like you said, liking a friendship or other platonic relationships is more likely coming from me. Even so, I don’t dismiss “shippers” at all, I think it’s just reading from another perspective and it’s fun, there’s nothing wrong with it. My only complaint about romance in books now is that it seems to be thrown in there sometimes without being well developed and just because authors know the tendency of fandoms to ship. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s always done wrong, but I feel like they try to push romance only because it’s a topic that creates talk.
    You make great points, really liked reading this post. Also, LOVE the look of your blog. It’s lovely.

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  7. I most definitely LOVE shipping people in books! I don’t think I’ve ever loved a book without shipping someone in it. I always love talking about ships to other people in the fandom, since it keeps the conversation alive and fun. And staring at all the fanart is just… *sighs* SHIPPING IS LIFE.

    Lovely post, Aentee!

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  8. I NEED an amazing romance in my books, I don’t care if that makes me shallow or whatever anyone else says. My favorite books have ships that I’m obsessed over. I agree with all your points Aentee, this is exactly why I love my ships 🙂

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  9. THIS POST IS EVERYTHING. I’m a huge romance reader, admittedly, and it’s not just the rush of giddiness and swoon that makes me so invested in these stories. It’s the characters and how their relationship escalates. And of course, the need to ship sooooo hard ❤

    I've read many reviewers dismiss romance in books as sometimes silly and unnecessary at time – but I beg to disagree though! Love is a huge part of the human life and you can't possibly avoid it. One way or another you're going to have to experience love.

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  10. i ship a lot of otps, but my first ever couples i ship is also ran and shinichi! they’re one of the main reason why i still read/watch conan after all this time! but yeah, i really like your points, especially that shipping brings fandom together, because those fanarts, fanfictions, discussions and headcanons (i freaking love them) really connects all people in the fandom together (even the ones that has different ships) and keep all of us sane in waiting for the next books! really love this discussion aentee!❤️❤️❤️

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  11. I love this post and definitely agree on all the points!
    Shipping is really important to me. I don’t think that the romantic storyline has to be front and center for all stories, but I do find myself leaning towards books and stories and TV shows and such where I can find some sort of chemistry between the characters that makes them shipable.

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  12. I will punch anyone who tells me to my face that I’m stupid for reading for romance. It’s one of those things that really really angers me when it comes to book shaming. I almost never pick up books that don’t have a romance. I can’t pinpoint why exactly, but I love shipping and I love all the feelings that a good slow-burn romance makes me feel. Which is weird because I am probably the least romantic person I know in real life.

    I’ve met lots of friends because of shipping so I 100% agree with that argument. I feel like I can also get an idea of the person when I know who they ship too? I recently reconnected with a friend who I hadn’t talked to in a while because she shipped this one couple in a series I was reading that I became full on obsessed with. So I’m always grateful for ships! 🙂

    I will admit that people can get very intense about their ships such as the fights we’ve been seeing lately with SJM fans and haters. -_- Ship as much as you want, but also be respectful to real life human beings!

    Anyone who says that reading books with romance isn’t reading can go screw themselves! #BYE

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  13. Omg YES to Ichigo+Rukia!! Like wtf was that deal with Orihime? She was so insipid and I feel like the audience only liked her because of her large chest. 😛

    Lol but what a wonderful discussion Aentee! I think it’s great for a book to not have romance, but it certainly adds a little spice if there is a bit (or a lot tehee). And since I’m not looking forward to a relationship anytime soon, I can experience it vicariously through characters! Plus maybe set my bar of expectations super high for guys because of these charming love interests LOL.

    Anywho, I really wish people could be more mature about ships. Like you do you, but don’t attack other people who don’t agree! Also I feel like shipping is a large tool for media (since you’re drawing people to a book) but again, differing ships may bring fans apart instead of together. So I usually proceed with caution with books with heavy fandoms haha 😛

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  14. Yay for shipping! I am not a big romance fan myself, but am I a shipper? UM, HECK YES. I always find myself rooting for ships…and I totally agree with your point that it gets you invested. Like for The Winner’s Curse series?! Omg I have never been so invested in getting those to angsty dysfunctional silly hardheaded darlings TOGETHER. It made the series for me!
    So while sometimes I really do want a book that has no romance in it (and I think there should be more available out there for people who don’t like romance but want to read YA!) I don’t think it’s right to hate on books JUST because they have romance. It doesn’t even make sense really.

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  15. I do not require romance in my books. BUT if I start shipping someone, it usually means that characters are perfectly written and dear to my heart. And finding a ship in novel/series, that makes me much more passionate about story. And yes, it connects people (fans). So in my eyes, shipping is connected only with positive feelings.
    If I look back to my past, I shipped some couples even before I had an idea what shipping means 🙂 my first big ships were Anna & Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables series and Lorelai & Luke from Gilmore Girls. So yeah, shipping makes stories/shows unforgettable for me and that makes shipping important in my eyes.

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  16. I generally ship more couples on TV than in books… like Malec (Shadowhunters). They actually turned out to be even more popular a couple than Clace, even though they’re pretty much the central characters of the show.

    I generally read YA books, and it’s normally a given that there’s going to be some shipping… gosh, what would I do without those ships? 😉

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  17. You know, I thought I wasn’t much of a shipper when I started reading this. Then I remembered my total indignation about Prince Nikolai in the Grisha Trilogy. He was so much more awesome than Mal! And it’s not just for books. I also recall the many Gilmore arguments I had with my best friend over Lorelai/Luke (me) and Lorelai/Christopher (her). I’m actually still horrified she could ship that. So yeah, maybe I was in a teeny bit of denial. 😑 And you know what, you’re right, it does make it better.

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  18. YES! I love shipping and I think I’ve been a shipper since I first started reading back when I was 5. I love romance in novels and I just love the idea of two characters who I adore falling in love, it just makes my heart so happy haha! 😀 Brilliant post!

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  19. I WISH there were more books without romance but I also love shipping (because I have to have it both ways obviously). And we also need more non-het romances. But yep, I used to be an admin for a Harry Potter Facebook page and it was ALL ABOUT THE SHIPS.

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  20. While I love reading romances, I’m personally not that much into shipping. I feel too much attention is given to the romance sometimes and not enough to other great aspects of a story, but I completely understand the draw of ships and don’t hold it against anyone who likes to to it 🙂

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  21. This is such a great post, Aentee (and your graphic is to die for as always.) I agree with many of your points. Shipping is a great way to connect with a fandom, connect with other people who feel similarly about your ships. Romance is such an integral part of most people’s lives, and I think that’s worth being explored in books too.

    I just sometimes wish that authors put aside ships and stick to one person for the entire book/series. At this point, I am steadily losing faith in the concept of commitment in the young adult genre- how frequently do we see a couple really make it? It’s disheartening to me, as a person who has been in a committed relationship for almost seven years now, to see that characters jump from one person to another as if commitment and relationships are things to be taken lightly. Another thing is how shipping tends to divide fandoms right down the middle. For example, the ToG fandom is viciously divided between Rowaelin shippers, Chaolena shippers and Dorian x Celaena shippers. This conflict will probably never die because of how hostile people are (including me, to a certain degree, I admit). So there’s obviously a downside to shipping too, as there is for everything in the world. Ha.

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  22. How funny I was going to make a discussion post next month about why I love love stories haha. But you make some really awesome points Aentee, especially about bringing the fans together. There’s nothing better than bonding over a fictional couple because the feelings are so invested and so die hard. And honestly I would die without those awesome gifs and creative photosets fans make on tumblr.

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  23. I love books that have romance. And I certainly don’t expect that YA books have no romance. I do get disappointed when a romance is cobbled together only to have a romance in the book. I’ve read some novels that have “romance” in them, but I just don’t feel that the characters have any sort of connection or it doesn’t feel real. For me, when I read YA books that have romance, I need to feel that it was well thought out. I love when it makes me feel giddy.

    Really great post. It makes me miss the days when I shipped Tohru and Kyo from Fruits Basket and Miaka and Tasuki from Fushigi Yugi and…I’ve just thought of a bit more that make me want to reread a bunch of things.

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  24. I agree with you about how important shipping is! I also shipped before I knew what shupping was, but mine was I think TK and Kari! As for Sailor Moon I have always shipped Sailor Neptune and Uranus 😍 Only reason I am watching the new one is their gonna be honest about their relationship this time! It definitely bonds you to the fandom as well as start fun little rivalries and debates. You have no idea how bad shipping can invest me it wrenches me and rips out my heart😊 In a good way of course! This was an amazing post!!

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  25. I’m hugely drawn in by romances in YA and basically every other genre – and while I know a lot of people don’t like to admit it, I love a good romance novel too! But you’re completely right, Aentee: you can’t ship a romance (or a friendship or Stark/Winterfell…LOL) unless you care about those involved. So being drawn into a ship is actually the sign of good writing! There’s nothing worse than hating a ship because the characters are so poorly written that you wish they’d just end up alone, haha.

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  26. Fandom wars hahahah! Good times. Hey, sometimes those wars can be a good thing because so much good content comes out of it (in regards to fanart, fanfics, etc.) But yeah, other times it is scary to watch. BUT anyways. I used to hate romance, at the tender age of 12 (not 6). I don’t know why. I just HATED people being happy I suppose? Or I was just too young for it. Even with cartoons I wouldn’t ship anyone because I didn’t care for romance. But now I am so much more on board with it (thanks puberty!), though I could take less of the romance/relationship drama.

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  27. SAILOR MOON AND TUXEDO MASK. Oh my gosh I was so invested in them there were tears shed tbh. I really do enjoy a good ship, although sometimes I look for something other than the romance in a book lol. It’s so much fun to find out who people ship for SoC and to bond with others who sail on the same ship as you!

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  28. I agree, I love romance in my books, shipping characters makes my day, it immerses me into a book and brings a fandom together. I love how excited the fandom can get over a small romance, and I love all the posts that appear from it (isn’t fanart the best?).

    I think that a romance I don’t enjoy can ruin a book for me, though. I don’t mind my ship not being the true ship in a book, I don’t care about that, but when a romance overwhelms the story or I don’t like the romance then that can ruin books for me. I’m actually writing a post about this to be posted soon.

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  29. It’s funny, because in real life I have a cold heart of stone, but dammit, when it comes to books, my shippy heart sings. I absolutely don’t think romance in books is a problem, or that so many people ship couples – its the depiction of certain romances that I have an issue with, but that’s really a different discussion. And like you said, if I feel like something without romance, I’ll just go find a book/ask for recs and read that instead.

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  30. I think when it comes to young adult, I can give or take the romance. I’ve read some incredible books that have no romance at all and I think had it been included, it might have destroyed the storyline. I do love a little romance in most books though as long as it’s well written, but completely agree that I need to enjoy the characters as individuals first before enjoying them as a couple. I don’t think I’ve ever really ‘shipped’ a couple entirely though. The last couple I fell in love with was Percy and Annabeth because it felt like a natural progression and followed closely by Ellie Marney’s Every series. Lovely discussion Aentee and beautiful graphic, that would make an incredible book cover ❤

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  31. Ah, I love this post, Aentee! Shipping is so incredibly important to me as a person and reader and watcher of fictional things. And I love how you threaded out all the reasons WHY this is important, as well.

    My favourite point that you mentioned was when you said how you would never have thought about the individual characters as much without shipping. I love that, because I am the exact same way. Especially when it comes to the Pandora Hearts manga series. I have such a greater respect and knowledge and insight into the characters of that manga because I ship so many ships. I get to create or investigate back stories and motivations and everything that leads me to ship one character with another. It lets me explore possible sexualities, as well, especially since manga isn’t as black and white with sexuality as books often are.

    Shipping is incredible, and it is such a connection-maker between people, and I hate to see it condemned, as well.

    Lovely post ❤

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  32. When I read a book, I always look out for characters that I can love. I think if you have that then it’s a lot easier for me to ship, because I feel like I’ve read a lot of books where I don’t ship the main romance at all haha. Personally, I’d like there to be more books without romance, but I do enjoy them in big fandoms even when the romance wasn’t actually canonical. (Which, er, probably applies to most of my ships.)

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  33. So so so true! I agree on all aspects. Love my OTPs. In a Twitter chat, I bonded with someone over my love for Alex/Lena in the Delirium trilogy and we kinda bawled over how much Lena didn’t deserve him. lolol. I think most books wouldn’t be complete with shipping, honestly. Seriously great discussion topic, Aentee! ❤

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  34. I absolutely gravitate towards books with romance integrated in them. For a few years now, I’ve grown to love pure romance novels. I like to believe I have a nice balance between judging how important romance is to me regarding a novel though. I love reading pure thriller or classics. Like you, I’ve read books due to curiosity of the ships; it’s that along with the story that I end up loving the book in its entirety. I’m totally pro-ships. 😜 I drown in a sea of ships. Great discussion!!

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  35. i hate romance – i’m pretty sure everyone knows this about me. but i absolutely love shipping (it doesn’t even make sense!!). what i like most about shipping is that it gives people reason to write fanfics and draw fan art. but it also gives people common interests. their two favourite characters together in a ship. nothing’s cooler than when you meet someone who ships the same thing as you!! great post!

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  36. I love this post! I feel like shipping just really enhances my reading experience because I get connected with the characters and the behaviours and exchanges between characters. I also think it helps connect readers with other readers. I think it’s a positive thing.

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