It’s been a while since I’ve written a discussion post recently and this is a topic that’s been on my brain for a hot second these past few weeks, so I decided, why not? The main discussion question is:
How does being a blogger affect you as a reader?
I’m going to get a little controversial (maybe) and say that, for me, it actually affects me negatively.
I’ve been a reader all my life. I don’t remember what got me started reading, though it was probably school, but I have a lot of fond memories regarding reading.
I remember reading Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure and how it truly got me into fantasy, before reading Tolkien and how it introduce me into epics.
I remember always reading ahead in class, finishing the assigned novel weeks before it was due so I could read the novels I wanted to during our “in class” regarding sessions.
I remember participating in programs we had like Novel Navigators (where we read books and then tried to answer questions) and how, when I was eleven, our school librarian called me a liar because she didn’t believe I got 20/20 correct on my quiz over Little Women (it was an AR program our library did where you read books and took quizzes afterwards to get points towards your AR goals), because it was too high above my reading level.
I remember choosing to read War and Peace sophomore year in high school because no one else had attempted it for our personal book projects and I foolishly waited three days before the paper was due to start the book, reading it all weekend and writing the essay the night before (and I got a 97%;
not trying to brag, but this is seriously still one of my proudest accomplishments).
I remember not reading the first two years in college because I struggled to balance it all and then, one day, in my lowest of lows suffering from depression, I picked up a book from the library and thought, “Hey, I haven’t done this in a while? Why not take 30 minutes and try and relax?” And wow, it was like I was becoming me again, finally feeling whole and smiling again?
So, yeah, there is no question that I’m a reader. I love it. I love escaping into a novel for a little bit, traveling to worlds and realms that don’t exist in our current one, because life is hard to handle sometime. I also read because I just enjoy it, honestly. It’s one of my favorite hobbies.
That’s why this six week reading slump has been hitting me…hard.
I just…haven’t wanted to read?
And I think it’s because I’m a book blogger.
Because being a book blogger changed me a reader.
Don’t get me wrong. I said it affects me negatively and it does, but there are so many positives and joys that I would never give it up. I mean, I love this blog. It’s my main outlet. And though writing reviews aren’t always my favorite posts to write all of the time, I know how much they help authors (even if reviews are actually intended for readers) and helping the authors I love is important to me. Hell, helping a reader find an author they love, even if I didn’t enjoy the book myself, is important to me.
I love the book blogging community SO MUCH. There are a handful of bloggers I know who I consider true, real friends. Like, I love them that much (I hope you know who you are <3 <3 ), so when I was offline for two weeks earlier this month and I came back to talk to all of you again, that just felt so…wholesome? Like, I struggle with loneliness sometimes being a twenty-something trying to adult, so having that connection just means the world. Plus, I’ve discovered so many books I never would have before that I loved thanks to blogging. I’ve become a judge for SPFBO through blogging, which helped my blog get a little more notice and helped me make more connections. For my future career as an author, the benefits of being a book blogger with connections is indescribeable (<–is this a word? I mean, we’re going with it, but still, I’m curious).
So, I want that to be very clear: I LOVE being a book blogger, I love what I do and I am SO THANKFUL for it every single day. It’s part of who I am and I hope I never have to stop, because I truly do love it and I recognize what a blessing it is.
But…it also has some negatives, too, that I think have sorta influenced this reading slump I’m in? And I think it’s okay and important to talk about these, too, especially for those who might be looking at me the way I look at most of the bloggers on my feed and be feeling, “Wow, they really have it put together, I wish I could be like that.” It’s important to talk about the struggles, too.
Comparison Game: I am the worst at this. I see bloggers who are able to do different readathons on the daily, read 30 books a week, have a 300+ book reading goal for Goodreads, get dozens of ARCs from different publishers yet aren’t falling behind, have a gorgeous blog layout and post consistently and I just sit here like, “Man, why can’t I be like that?” My one-book a week or four books a month average seems so minuscule in comparison, especially because I have so many books I WANT to read, but time isn’t always on my side, so sometimes, I feel like a pretty shite blogger (even though I KNOW all of those bloggers I’m comparing myself to and judge myself lesser against have their own lives, needs and anxieties, and I don’t know or need to know those; so just because they appear to be nailing it, doesn’t mean they are. Or, even if they are, my version of being a successful book blogger doesn’t have to match theirs perfectly. We’re all meant to be unique, so this comparison is needless and this jealousy and wishing isn’t necessary, yet hello do I do it anyway).
ARC Pressure: I am VERY lucky to work with both Orbit (!!) and Titan to receive ARCs. I’ve been able to read some of my favorite series more regularly thanks to this, on top of being introduced to new favorites. Being America-based is also a huge privilege. Yet, I’m always worried that I’m going to lose this wonderful gift because I’m behind and being in this slump is only making me more so. Yet I also want to read books other than ARCs because I have so many backlist books I want to read, yet I feel GUILTY reading anything else because these are so overdue. Add in library books with a timeline, SPFBO readings, books authors have sent me, Tolkien Society readings and how I usually only read one book a week and I think I’ve just overwhelmed myself to the point where I’m just not reading at all, because I feel guilty to read something that isn’t in that list above? Yet I also don’t want to stop requesting ARCs for books I really want (though I have gotten a lot better at not requesting unless I really want the book) because I can’t afford to get them otherwise and since I’m such a mood reader, if I have an opportunity to own a book I *know* I want to read, I try to take it, especially through an ARC, since library holds often get turned in unread (though I utilize my library a lot, too).
Fear of Responses: I don’t think one is as major as some of the others, but it definitely is a factor, as well, because now, I’m in the public eye a lot more than I was before! Luckily, I’ve had a lot of really positive responses to my reviews and my blog, but I always get nervous writing negative reviews, especially from authors I admire or for books I know a lot of bloggers (who are friends!) liked. So I think that unconscious fear sometimes slips in there, too, and makes me hesitate to read at all.
Reading Feels More Like a Job: All of this detailed above (and other factors I’m prolly missing right now, but this is already a unit of a post, so…) has transitioned reading–my main hobby–into more like a job, because now I have deadlines and other people counting on me; even if most of those deadlines are self-inflicted and a lot of these emotions–the guilt, the fear, the anxiety, the comparison–are all a result of my own mental illnesses, anxiety and depression, and not a result of how others actually interact or treat me.
Despite KNOWING that, it doesn’t erase dealing with this “new” way of reading and how it’s affecting my ability to actually read right now (on top of time, which is a whole ‘nother ballgame, but basically, when your summer schedule is weird and you use the mornings to be productive around the house/writing ((AND SOON TAKE MY PUPPY FOR A WALK, WHAT)) and then go to work before getting home at 8:30pm, where I still need to eat dinner and then want to spend some time with my boyfriend before going to bed, reading just hasn’t been a priority lately).
Listen, I totally get that a lot of these are my own anxieties coming out. I know how wonderful all of the other bloggers are and, though I’d love to read some more so that my TBR list stops shouting at me, I actually like my pace of 4-6 books a month. I know my system works for me, but sometimes, I just wish I could do better, because I want to be a good book blogger. I want to be a good, positive, supporting and contributing member of this community. I don’t want to let Orbit and Titan (and other publishers and authors) down by getting stuck in slumps or life getting in the way or my schedule changes or I put my own book I’m writing first. But I am also tired of feeling guilty and I miss my backlist beauties.
To be extra clear: I have NO intention of leaving or quitting. Despite my complaints above, I really, really do love this (truly). I just…am also recognizing that being a book blogger has put pressure (even if it’s self-induced) on me as a reader that wasn’t there when I wasn’t a book blogger. And sometimes…I dunno. I just miss reading for fun and wish I could figure out how to turn off my brain and the stress and the pressure, like I should be able to. I wish I could be a book blogger without adding that bit in.
You slogged through that mammoth of a post and one, I’m proud of you. But two, I am SO curious what you think! Do you deal with similar anxieties and stresses? Has being a book blogger changed you as a reader (or, if you don’t blog, do you believe it would)? Do you have any tips on how to combat this, because I am ALL EARS (please, send help)?
Read on, lovelies. And thanks for making this blog one the places you choose to spend your reading time. <3