Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thoughtful Thursdays: Changes

Thursday, September 19, 2013 with 20 comments

For some reason, I've had David Bowie on the brain lately.  Maybe because I've decided it's time for a change.  Or a lot of them.  You may have noticed the blog got a face-lift, for which I will forever be grateful to the awesome Stephanie at Hopeless Romantics.  And, yeah, more changes are on the horizon.  I have to do something to get out of this slump I'm in.

For your viewing/listening pleasure:

This is myself:

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I put so much pressure on myself to post often, to post daily, and to post the best damn content I can.  I think I do alright.  If I didn't have a real job, I could do better.  =)  But it doesn't look like I'm going to win the lottery any time soon, so I'll have to make do with the time I've been given.  Which also has to be split with reading.  Oh, and the family.  And they demand a LOT of time, not that I'm blaming them. I love them and I want to treasure the precious years I have with my daughter while she's still little.

I feel like I'm always under pressure to read, to post, to meet deadlines.  And no one's really putting that pressure on me but myself.  There's like a six-week window for reviews of new releases, and yet I feel the need to always post those reviews prior to a book's release.  And I feel responsible for reading and reviewing every title I request or receive from publishers.  I have sixty books on the schedule right now through the end of April.  o_O

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And that would totally be doable, if I didn't feel the compulsion to read books NOT on that list.  I have become such a mood reader these days, and yet, I don't allow myself to stray much from the schedule.  My friend Christina at Christina Reads YA has been urging me to give into the moods, though.  And those few times that I have, I ended up having a truly awesome reading streak.  I just read a book not scheduled on the list for a few weeks, and it was kind of a wake-up call.  The one I desperately needed.  I try and try to keep up with other bloggers and read what's scheduled so that my review goes up close to when everyone else's does, but I'm tired of feeling rushed, tired of the pressure that I put upon myself.  And to the schedule, I say NO MORE.

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I'll keep the schedule to help me keep track of what's releasing and when and where I got it from -- and also just 'cause I'm a nut like that and love the organization it provides -- but I'm not going to force myself to adhere to it anymore.  I know I've said that before, and I meant it when I said it, but that old familiar guilt always creeps back in.  This time, though, I can't let it.  I've got to prove it to myself -- and to my family -- that I do still have a life outside of reading and blogging.

I'm not saying that I won't still be posting daily or that I won't still be reading.  I most definitely will.  But I'll probably spend less time reading -  and definitely less time reading things I don't feel like reading -- and I'll hopefully rearrange things so that I can get all of my posts scheduled once a week so that I'm not spending so much time in the evenings working on the blog.  And hopefully I'll have more time to visit you guys when all this is said and done.  =)

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Just curious...does anyone else suffer that same guilt, that same need to review all the books?  I mean, I requested it...I'm supposed to review it.  But I don't think it's fair to the author or the book to read it when I'm not in the mood for it.  I'm more likely to be apathetic and probably rate it lower than I normally would if I didn't feel like I was being forced to read it.

Also, what's up with books with similar themes and premises releasing so close together?  I don't want to read three similar books in a row based on their release dates and then have to try not to compare them when I'm reading and reviewing.  I like to mix it up.

Okay, I'm rambling now.  I just needed to decompress.  Also, this was an excellent reason to bring out the David Bowie.  (I warned you that this would be a really David Bowie-heavy post, didn't I?  And now I just want to go watch Labyrinth.  =)  That movie's almost as old as me, but it's timeless, as is Bowie's music.  :D)

Happy reading!


  1. At the end of last year I was feeling really pressured about scheduling and review books that I said enough. I will schedule book tour books, and try to read Netgalley books around release (limiting myself severely to how many I pick), but for the entire year I have given myself to mood reading. And it's worked out great! My average review is much higher than last year. I am DNF'ing less books, and enjoying my reading a lot more.

    It's worth it for yourself, because really, as a reader, I don't care if a review I read is for a new book or an old book. I know publishers want the hype in the beginning, but I think it's just as effective to see a review after a break from everyone else's because then I think "oh, yeah, I want to read that". Sometimes it seems like some books are overpushed on review sites. Too many reviews of the same book and I start skimming instead of reading.

    Super long comment, but short point is: mood reading works and brings back the fun of reading.

    1. Good is off-putting to see so many reviews of the same book right around the same time. Just thinking about giving into the mood this weekend has me excited! I agree...when I read simply for pleasure and not because I was scheduled to read the book, there's a much better chance that I'll enjoy what I'm reading. Thanks for your input!

  2. 1. I am still really behind and will be coming back to comment and catch up on your other posts tomorrow! Or I guess today, since I'm still awake at this hour o.O. Thank God for the weekend-ish.

    2. I see to my right that there is a post "Notice anything different???" AND one sign of me not being here in a while = NEW LAYOUT OMG. I've had your blog open since Friday - where the latest post was NA Review of Fangirl - so I still saw the old layout until today and JEN IT IS BEAUTIFUL CONGRATULATIONS WOW WOW WOW *in awe*

    AWWW I wish I could help you with the slump. How's World After? Any help from Raffe on that front :D?

    Yes. I know what you mean. AND YES YOU DO MORE THAN ALL RIGHT. You post SO many great things, Jen. And you post so much too! All great content - I'm constantly in awe of how much reading you get done. I'm feeling similar pressure post-wise and am cutting back - no more Friday posts; just making that day catch-up/comment day. There's just too much pressure to read/post/etc. And yes, we are the ones putting it on ourselves, but who else holds you accountable, you know? You've got to be okay with what you do. Do what makes you most happy :).

    "There's like a six-week window for reviews of new releases, and yet I feel the need to always post those reviews prior to a book's release." <-- Me too. Instead of commenting today, for instance, I spent the day organizing my blog calendar so that I could fit various review titles according to release date and whatnot. 60 books on schedule??? WOAH. No way you can read and review all of those o.O. Right??

    Or not. I don't think that'd be doable :P. 60 before April! The holidays always seem so busy. Heh, there's always a compulsion for non review titles - and I think that's because we let our review piles get so large that we'll do anything to escape them lol. I will urge you to give into the moods! You loved your reading streaks :D :D. If you have too many books for the schedule... give em away! YAYAYAYA FOR LETTING MOOD TRUMP SCHEDULE!! :D :D.

    "I'll keep the schedule to help me keep track of what's releasing and when and where I got it from -- and also just 'cause I'm a nut like that and love the organization it provides -- but I'm not going to force myself to adhere to it anymore." <-- I like the organization too hahah. I started to leave a little note about what's coming next because it makes me feel like I actually am (when I'm not at all!). Jen, if the old familiar guilt creeps back in, tell me! I will remind you of this post and your goal!

    "Just curious...does anyone else suffer that same guilt, that same need to review all the books?" <-- Yes. One ARC I'm currently giving away. Release Date: July; Christina's Half-hearted Review: September. *sigh* If I hadn't requested the title to begin with... "But I don't think it's fair to the author or the book to read it when I'm not in the mood for it." <-- That too. It's funny - you commented that we had similar habits as mood readers but different quirks, but I think the habits triumph here :P. Everything you're saying? It all resonates.

    "Also, what's up with books with similar themes and premises releasing so close together?" <-- RIGHT?? Sometimes I think the pubs don't coordinate enough to separate them out :P.

    Oooh, I fail. Haven't watched Labyrinth and since most of the world is still sleeping now o.o, ahhaha, I can't watch your David Bowie videos just yet either. Later!

    1. Oh, worries. I fall behind on the commenting, too, especially in reply to comments on my own blog (!), and then I feel guilty about that, too. It's an awful cycle. But sometimes you have to take care of your stuff first. :) And thank you with regards to the new layout. A new look = a new outlook. :D

      World After was just what I needed to help get me out of my reading funk. Yes, Raffe most DEFINITELY helped on that front. ;0) I can't wait for you to read it!!

      Yeah, I'm not actually planning on reading all sixty books. Seriously, why do I request them all? I want to read them at the time, I guess, but then there are other books that I MUST READ NAO! I'm really going to try to kick the schedule to the curb. I was looking at it again this morning and I picked out a few for the next few weeks that I do really want to read, and the rest I'll come back to some day. Maybe. Depends on if the mood hits me, lol.

      Oh, you absolutely must watch Labyrinth! It's total cheesy goodness! It was one of my favorite movies as a kid. :)

  3. Jen I can totally relate. I've not been blogging all that long but I feel the pressure and I spend so much time focused on it. I love it, I do...but it does get to be a lot especially with a little one. I want to focus on my family.

    I completely feel that I need to have my reviews up BEFORE pub date and if I don't I beat myself up about it. I went through a phase where I requested sequels when I hadn't read the first book. Why did I do that to myself? Ugh, so now I'm having to buy the first book, read it and then review the second. Just a lot to do that I put on myself.

    Then I sign up for book tours and such. they are fun but add to the stress. I will say that reading what you are in the mood for is the way to go for me! I just threw out my schedule to read The Winner's Curse and I loved it. It helped me to read for the want of reading rather than because I had to. Of course now I have all those books I have to read sitting there waiting on me but for some reason it seems better now.

    Also what helps is reading in a group. I have a group of awesome bloggers that read with me. we help to encourage each other and keep up with the books. It helps to have just a small amount to read daily and have people to talk to about the book. I have gotten through books I might have DNFed left on my own.

    Great post!
    My Friends Are Fiction

    1. I've done that a bit, too...requested books in series that I'm not caught up in. Why?!? And the tours...I was doing a ton of those, but I really cut back earlier this year because it's so stressful to have a really firm deadline to read the book and/or come up with a guest post or interview questions. *sigh*

      Mood reading, when I allow myself to, really does help cut out some of the stress. Later I end up feeling more stessed because them I'm "behind schedule", but it helps for awhile. I read World After before I even added it to the schedule, and I took immense pleasure in that. :D

      I've never tried reading in a group, but read-alongs, even with just a friend, stress me out. Especially if I'm reading with someone who reads faster than me. I'm really competitive and I hate when I fall behind the point where they're at in the story, especially if they're tweeting or updating GR with their progress. Grr. And I'm not even a slow reader...I just don't speed read and I prefer to actually comprehend and appreciate what I'm reading.

      Thanks for making me feel a bit better about this, Kristen!

  4. I so hear you on everything... Full time job, reading, blogging, family. Yes it gets overwhelming. I hate feeling like I have to read certian books but I feel I owe it to the authors and the bloggers to do upcoming and new release books. I also love to get them out before they releaese but that rarely happens. I am also a mood reader and I do have a schedule but I never follow it. I can't even follow a weekly plan. I pick up a book not on it and say "Oh I must read this now." So I feel you. I made up my mind that I started the blog to enjoy writing about what I love to read so that is what I will continue to do. I do wish I had more times for reviews. I find that my work and readign get in the way of reviewing. I can't seem to put the books down. Since Finn- my grandson- has been born I have a hard time doing anything in the evening except loving on him and then reading. Do what you enjoy. I know that if all of your other readers love you as much as I do, you won't lose us. Your posts are awesome quality and I love to read them. I also adore your new blog design.

    1. It's weird, 'cause I'm at least keeping up with the schedule, and I feel less stressed now than I did when I just read ALL THE BOOKS and then hoped I got a couple reviews in that week or month. I do thrive when I'm better organized.

      I'm glad you're taking the time to spend precious moments with your grandson. You're right, you've got to do what you enjoy! Thanks for your insight, Jenn Renee!

  5. Last year I accepted many requests for review and diligently unless I really could not read them (I would tell the author why), I would write a review. By the end of the year I was burnt out. I hardly reviewed or blogged the first 6 months of this year but after a lovely summer I have found my reading and reviewing mojo :) BUT I have only reviewed on request twice this year and I am concentrating on reducing my rather swollen TBR shelves. No, you don't have to say 'yes' to everyone and no you don't have to sign up for every book tour/give-away or meme. I may not get the ratings or views of many bloggers but I want to enjoy blogging and not feel it's a chore. Don't feel guilty, be kind to yourself, read for pleasure and enjoy your family :)

    1. My problem is, I'm *seeking out* titles for review. I do have the good sense to turn down most review requests, though. And I've really limited my tour involvement this year. Now I just have to commit to giving into the mood when it hits me. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jane!

  6. I can completely relate to this. I too feel the need to review EVERY book! But you are more important than your blog. If you want to read something else than the book on your schedule, go for it! If you don't want to review that particular book, don't! I hope you can get through with this, because it might be good to stop stressing and being under pressure. Take care of yourself <3

  7. Good God , YES. I totally feel that pressure. My NG request to review ratio is so embarrassing I can't even talk about it. REALLY. And as I get more and more opportunities to read ARCS, the guilt and pressure builds. And oh, I'm a stay at home mom and I STILL can't get it all done: the reading, the reviewing, the blogging, the commenting. It's just impossible. So I try not beat myself up too much. And I agree with Christina about giving in to reading urges. If I just stick to review books, I tend to get into a reading funk. And I also think it's important to read just for the pleasure of reading--not necessarily to review all that I read. I struggle to write short reviews anyway, and there is just NO WAY I can review every book I read. But more to the point, I don't think I should have to, you know?

    I hope you are able to get through your rough patch--this blogging thing, balancing it all out with life, isn't easy:)

    And I LOVE all your David Bowie references:)

  8. First of all, your blog looks beautiful! I love the background, and I especially love the navigation bar at the top.

    Now, I recently told myself that I'm going to STOP requesting ARCs from NG and EW. Which means, I'll only be working with one publisher, since only one publisher sends me physical book. (There are exceptions: like books in a series I'm reading or titles from favorite authors. THAT'S IT.) I only made this promise a few days ago, so I'm not sure how successful I'll be. We'll see.

    Basically, ARCs are bumming me out. I feel so much pressure to get to them ALL and get to them ALL ON TIME. That's crazy! We bloggers are not machines - we're real live human beings with other interests, personal lives, families, and for many of us, jobs. Book blogging is a hobby. Sure, it might be something we're passionate about (I know I am) but it's still a hobby and there is no reason to feel all this guilt we feel because we're not "The Best."

    You're followers and blogging friends will still be here even if you don't post every single day, or if you review an ARC that *GASP* came out last week.

  9. LOVE the new look. It's beautiful! Stephanie did an amazing job :)

    Yes -- I completely understand. I took on huge volunteer jobs at both my kids' schools and with the blogging and my work and the dog and the family, I feel really overwhelmed some times.

    I do keep a list of all my requested books, in chronological order, just to keep track of what I asked for. But I've always been a DNF'er. If a book really isn't for me, I stop reading. And I'm trying to be better about not taking on too many review books or signing on for too many tours.

    I also dropped back to posting 5-6 days a week instead of every day, and I don't think anyone even noticed -- ha! Maybe I'll try 5 days and see how that works.

  10. First off. Love your new design. :0)

    Secondly, I love this post. It's so funny because I just introduced Aubrey to the Labyrinth this week, and we've watched it 5 times she loved it so much. It's one of my fav movies of all time, so the fact you have littered your post with these gifs just makes me want to marry you. <3

    As for the real content in this post, good for you. I watch so many blogger get stressed trying to keep up, and reading stuff they don't like just because they feel obligated too. Blogging/Reading, it's supposed to be fun. Dont ever let it not become fun. And I feel you on the real job thing. You and I, we have very similar family set up, one little girl the same age, husband, and a full time job. It's hard. Very hard to balance all that stuff, and family, that comes first.

    Your gif review on goodreads early this week, about planning to start a book friday, but life (kids and hubby) getting in the way. YES!!!!!! I hardly ever have time to read on the weekend. And that's cool. Don't let real life pass you by.

  11. I totally related to your post. I was floundering last year, but I learned some of the things others have mentioned. I've cut back on postings a little and tours a lot. I've interspersed books of my own choice in with my review requests. The biggest change was to make it clear when I get a review request that it may take upwards of two months before I get to a book. Most authors and publishers are alright with this. They want their stuff read around the release date, but for the most part, even more so do they want a good review and for their book to get good face time. I've been trying to focus on quality instead of quantity and its working for me.

  12. OMG!!! Yes I do the exact same thing!!! I'm totally behind on my promised reviews and feel horribly guilty about it! I don't have as much to read as you do but man am I behind. And yes with work and blogging mixed with reading....I barely have time to even sleep! And now I'm up for a hiatus just to catch up with reading. But I haven't had a relax reading for awhile that I'm beginning to burn out! I'll probably start with that once i get these reviews under control.

    But good luck to you.

  13. Oh, Jen, you are not alone! I'm glad you could decompress because sometimes that's the best medicine. But pressure is a big hurt on bloggers, I think. I'm having the same problem with publishers. I don't get a lot of books from them, but sometimes I'm just not in the MOOD. And yes, I'm even more of a mood read lately as well. Have fun, take a break from the pressure, and don't feel guilty!

  14. I know i'm late to the party, but I want to say that I love you for this post and I feel exactly the same! Lots and lots of pressure to be and do everything. And YET I am 100% a moody reader and find that sometimes I can't get into a book (even when I know I should) if I'm forcing myself to read it. I think it's an endless balancing act, but I'm trying to remember that I don't have to review everything early - after the rush is actually good too. I want reading to always be something that I do for myself and that I ENJOY. That won't happen if I try to stick to a schedule of reading certain books at certain times. But it's still hard not to let it get to me. Thanks for reminding me to take a step back!


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