Instead, I thought I'd just reflect on how blogging has changed me as a reader -- and maybe as a person, too. Because a lot can happen in five years and some things are harder to walk away from unscathed than others. And who knows? Maybe this will be the cathartic experience I need, and I'll be in the spirit to celebrate and give things away by the end. ;0)
For better or worse, here are a few ways I'm different because of blogging:
I don't visit bookstores anymore.
Back in the early days, I would run out to the nearest book store to pick up a book on release day. However, if I didn't already receive a copy from the publisher, or if I want a special edition or finished copy in addition to the review copy I received, I rely on other bloggers or Twitter to alert me to sales and pre-order deals, meaning that most of my book purchases are made online these days.
Also, my shelves are so unbelievably full -- I've even resorted to a "saved for Katie" shelf in the closet of the spare bedroom -- that it's not really feasible for me to just go peruse the shelves of Barnes & Noble or Half Price Books and take home an armload like in the good old days. Which is partially why I have this problem to begin with, let's be honest.
I know way more about authors than I ever wanted to.
Look, I love meeting authors, virtually and in real life. I love connecting with them and discovering their next project and seeing them interact with other readers. But I realize that they are not my friends and that I don't owe them a favorable review just because we're friendly on in the internets.
Shoot, I don't owe them anything, if we're being perfectly honest. If anything -- and especially if I've purchased and reviewed their book -- they owe me the respect any author should show any reader. Before I was a blogger -- and hey, maybe this type of thing didn't happen before blogging was a thing, who am I to say? -- I was unaware of bad author behavior. I may have supported countless "bad" authors with my hard-earned cash because of it. But I also have to wonder how much of these situations is really bad author behavior and how much of it is the blogosphere and Twitter blowing things out of proportion. One never knows unless one is directly involved in the confrontation.
I've become a green-eyed monster.
We've all been there: envying the person on the other side of the screen because they got the coveted ARC you'd give your big toe for. I don't think I've actually ever posted about ARC envy because I try not to let it control me, but it's there all the same. And it's pointless because we'll ALL get to read the book sooner or later. It's just hard knowing others are discussing the book, that you're missing out on that aspect more than anything because you WANT to be part of the community but you always feel slightly on the outside, especially when it concerns a much-desired ARC.
But I'm not just envious of those who get review copies before I do. That's a grain of sand in comparison to the rest of it. My jealousy also stems from how very little time I actually have to spend on this hobby. It's hard to take off work for conventions. I end up writing most blog posts while I'm at work. I pretty much have to wait until everyone else is in bed before I get time to myself to sit down and read. Working full-time and caring for a family take up a lot of time. A lot.
Oh, and how easy every other bookish person seems to be in the company of other bookish peeps! I am such a nervous nelly, so completely out of my comfort zone at bookish events, and so I avoid them for the most part. But I have an amazing, supportive friend who pushes me to do the things I want to do, even if they make me uncomfortable. She's the main reason I've been to any author events recently. So, I'm also completely and ridiculously jealous of you guys who are comfortable in your own skin and just put yourself out there.
I really don't like this about myself. Before blogging, I didn't worry about book events or getting advance copies. I felt completely anonymous...just another reader in the night. And I was more than okay with that.
I don't read old books.
These days, I put all my effort and physical reading time into reading and reviewing ARCs and don't spend nearly enough time on my backlist. Unless it's via audio. And that was only when I had access to the library in Austin. =( Now, I have to make the conscious effort to pick up an older title, or it just doesn't happen. And more often than not...it doesn't happen. This is why it's so hard for me to get rid of books. The want to read them is there, but the time is not. I've stopped requesting nearly as many review copies, and that's helped to some extent, but I don't think I'll be able read all of the books I want to in my lifetime. And that's just sad.
I listen to audiobooks.
Before blogging, I would NEVER have listened to an audiobook. In my head, that was like the equivalent of cheating. Now, I constantly have an audiobook on-deck. I listen on my commute, while I work, doing chores, exercising...pretty much anything mundane that can be made better with a good book. And I'm able to revisit old favorites via audio, which is like, the best.
I collect books.
I'd always planned to have my own library. I think that's kind of required for any little girl whose favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast. But I never planned to become a collector. I've got multiple editions of the same book: paperback, hardcover, ARC, UK edition, signed, special printing, etc., etc., etc. My husband likes to point this out a lot whenever I complain about running out of shelf space. I've been better about culling books from my shelves, but I'm still not great. Hence, the aforementioned "saved for Katie" shelf. But there are just some authors I love more than others, some books that mean more to me than others. And those deserve special shelf space. And that's where the collecting comes in.
I have the urge to write...like, ALL THE TIME.
And not for the blog. I've got all kind of ideas -- lots of them saved in my notes on my phone -- that are just itching to be put on paper. Or screen, as it were. I used to write ALL THE TIME when I was younger. Horrible poetry. Really bad short stories. Journaling day and night. But then I met my husband and life was really good and I no longer needed the outlet that writing provided.
I'm not saying that's the only reason to write. It's not even why I want to write now. Sometimes you just have a desire to share a story, not necessarily get a feeling on the page so it's not in your head anymore. Though, admittedly, writing is really good for that, too.
At this point, I care little about getting published. I just. WANT. TO. WRITE. But, I also have to admit that because of blogging and social media in general, I have access to a lot more resources regarding getting published than I ever did before. Or at the very least, I know where to find them now.
I'm sure these aren't the only ways I've changed since starting blogging, but that's where I'm stopping for now. I feel like blogging has brought about some changes for the better in me, but it's also changed me in ways that I'm not certain I'm okay with. It's why blogging has become kind of a daily struggle for me.
As I reflect on five years of blogging, I'm trying to figure out ways to make myself love it again. If you've got any ideas or just general comments about how blogging has changed you, I'd love to hear them!