Friday, April 22, 2016

So, our 5th blogiversary is coming up pretty soon, but I'm not all that excited about it. Honestly, I've been pretty apathetic toward blogging in general as of late. Well, that's not entirely true...some days are better than others. But I don't know if we're going to do a big celebration (read: giveaway) this year or not. I just bought a house at the end of last year and so funds are pretty tight as it is, plus April and I haven't even talked about doing anything, and it's less than two weeks away. Tells you where our priorities are, doesn't it?

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 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, 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!


  1. I've probably been blogging for the same amount of time just not as a book blogger. I basically started fresh with book blogging in January 2014 but I was super sporadic and it's only been about a year really working on it. I also joined BookTube (in August it will be 2 years) and I have noticed changes in my general reading habits as well as some of the things you mentioned.

    I definitely feel slumpy when it comes to filming a video or writing another blog post and sometimes even when it comes to reading. I have to remind myself that I do this for fun and it's not my job. I can take breaks when I need to.

    I super duper rarely get any ARC's to review (a.k.a NEVER) so I understand the envy.

    At the same time I would love to have people stop by my blog on a regular basis and subscribe. I would also like to start requesting ARC's and improve my bookish community. Sometimes I feel like I am floundering and other times I wonder if I should even bother.

    Congrats on 5 years though. That's pretty amazing! I hope you find happiness in doing what you love.

    1. It does feel like readership in general has been waning in recent months, so I doubt you're floundering. There are just so many outlets to get bookish news and discussions now! I would be terrified of having my own YouTube channel. I'm the person who likes to be behind the camera, not in front of it. :)

      I wish you the best in your blogging adventure and thank you for your kind words!

  2. Most of these are the same for me. When I started blogging, a lot of my reviews were on old books and I only received a handful of ecopies for review. Now I have so many physical books for review, some ARCs, I get stressed over how I am going to finish them all and where I will put them. I've had to start making trips to my local used book store to get rid of some.

    Blogging is great and if it were not for having my blog, I wouldn't get to read as many new books as I do because I've never been able to afford going to the bookstore and picking up all that I wanted. I usually had to pick four books a year and get the rest at the library. Now I buy one or two and rarely darken the door of the library.

    But sometimes it takes the fun out of reading. I don't have the time to read anything older or that I didn't get for review. And, while I know I don't owe anyone a good review, I still have to do a review for most of the books I get or publishers will stop sending them, which stinks for books that I end up not wanting to finish. Then there are weeks when I feel like I need a break but I have a huge TBR pile that I need to get through.

    I've yet to have a really bad interaction with an author, but I have had bad encounters with some author's fans. I've noticed that books with large followings that I rate lowly every time results in a fan voting down my review or leaving a nasty comment.

    1. I actually reviewed mostly newer books even when I was just starting out, but it was a lot easier to keep track of them then because I wasn't as aware of just how many books were releasing ALL THE TIME. I still reviewed older books, too, though, and definitely more than I do now.

      Oh, I'd still use my library if I didn't get copies for review. I WILL FIND A WAY TO READ ALL THE BOOKS. :) But my pocketbook would definitely be feeling the pinch because there are just some books you HAVE to own, ya know?

      I haven't personally had a bad author interaction, but I've seen way too many for comfort. I have had my share of rabid fan interactions, though. I could do without those, too.

  3. I love this post so much. I'm have gotten the feeling you were feeling blah about blogging lately, and I feel sorry if I've contributed to that. It's difficult to feel invested in blog posts, when you have so much going on in real life. Plus, for me, I've lost the time to visit other blogs. Working full time again, and at a job where I'm so busy I can't take time away to visit blogs, it's hard enough to post reviews, let alone read others. And that's a huge part of why I have enjoyed blogging so much in the past, the connections and interactions I've had with other bloggers. Now with out that, I feel less desire to put my thoughts out there. Heck, we don't even have time to talk as much. Which sucks, but it's okay. Every few weeks we do get around to our long ass emails. lol :) And the 5 year blogiversary, I thought about mentioning it last time we emailed, but totally forgot. As you said... priorities. ha.

    The Author thing.. LOL. Not even just the whole bad behavior, but following some of their personal social media sites, sometimes they post some things that make you think... wow.. wtf. Just stuff that maybe you never needed or wanted to know. I do sometimes miss the days when Authors were just a name on the cover.

    Ahhhh and hell yes to Audiobooks. Without you, I would never have tried them, and without blogging we would never had known each other.

    Blogging has been such a big part of our lives. I'm so hesitant to give up on it, ya know? Mainly for my connection with you. I've thought about what it would be like to just stop and go back to jotting quick reviews on goodreads. I often feel like my reviews here on the blog are better suited for that anyway, because I just can't find the words I need when I sit down to write a review.

    I wish I could give you advice on how to make blogging fun again. :/ Perhaps just read some books that you want to read, with no pressure to review? Maybe we should try to make time for some joint reviews or posts again. Those were fun.

    You could always take a break. I know that seemed to help you a bit last time. It was a short break though. Maybe consider taking a longer break. Maybe a month in the Summer. Since Summer is busy. Maybe even the whole Summer. Take that time to read what you want, and you can still read review books, but don't go crazy trying to get a review up. Just jot your thoughts down and review them later. Also take some time for writing. If your heart is telling you to write, then do it! Take a hiatus and see if anything comes of it. Keep yourself active through other social media outlets in the meantime. There are many options and everyone will be here for you when you come back. If you even want to. I realize I should just be emailing you all this. haha.

    Well, regardless. I am always here to blog with you as long as you want me. I may be sporadic, but I'm not going anywhere. In the same token if you ever decide you want to call it quits, I'm okay with that too.

    now that I've rambled on... I guess my point is I'm here for you always. Regardless, and I'm all about you writing. I know that's a passion you have. There is only so much time in a day. That's part of the struggle. lol.

    1. That's one of the aspects I miss the most...having time to visit other blogs and just that general sense of community that comes with it. I'll comment on a post if I see it linked on Twitter and it really resonates with me, but normally, I rarely have time for our blog, let alone anyone else's. :(

      I've considered a break or just quitting altogether. Many times. But it is what keeps us together. I'm afraid with as little as we get to chat now, taking this away would make it even harder. :( I think I'd rather quit social media altogether, if anything, but I just don't know if I could do it. It's how I stay informed, lol.

      I definitely do intend to start reading more of just what I want. I've said that before, though. There is this one that I just keep moving closer and closer to the couch so that maybe I'll eventually pick it up and just start reading it, everything else be damned. :)

      It is such a struggle. I'm glad you're here for it with me. =D

  4. Interesting post. I also think blogging has changed me and in my opinion actually for the better.
    Cassandra @ Book & Movie Dimension a Blog | Blogging since 2011

    1. Yeah, I'm not saying it's all bad, but sometimes I miss just being a reader. Not a reviewer first, reader second, ya know?

  5. Congrats on 5 years of Book Blogging!! I try not to get jealous of people who get tons of ARCs. When I first discover them sure I was jealous. I envy them and really wonder why they get tons of ARCs but then again, I realized that not having ARCs gives me more time to go along my own reading pace. I can pick any book I want without rushing to finishing them or what. I'm just being positive about it :) But getting one would really be nice.

    I totally understand you about writing all the time! I'm not much of a writer but I try to get things out of my system by writing. I practically have TONS of notepads and notebooks. My sketchbooks are half filled with my random writings. I still keep a journal but I don't write on it so much... but I'm really hoping to regularly write again..

    now I want to right a post like this just so I can reflect at how much blogging has changed me :)

    czai @ the Blacksheep Project

    1. Aw, thanks! Sometimes I can't believe it's been five years, and other times, it feels like longer, lol.

      I have the same debate with myself all the time. It shouldn't matter that much, but it does. But like you, I try to be positive about it. We'll all get to read those books in the end. :)

      I used to have notebooks full of ideas and stories all over the place, but we used to move practically every year, and they're pretty much all gone. Maybe that's why my desire to write has grown so much lately.

      I hope you do! I'd love to read it!

  6. Reading my own books is hardest of all. I will say that as I approach my sixth year of blogging that I make time for the things I value most.

    1. I think that's what I've taken away the most from my five years of blogging. You just have to do you. And reading my own books is something I want to spend more time doing.

  7. I've been blogging for almost three years now. I started off reviewing audiobooks. I've been an audiobook junkie for a while, but I've tripled the number of audiobooks that I listen to since I started blogging. I also listen to a lot more new-to-me audiobooks now than before. Before blogging, I mostly revisited books that I had already read, now I'm getting audiobooks directly from the publisher, some even before release day, so i'm going straight to audio on most everything. This has also caused me to buy less books too. I used to be at Barnes and Noble on release day buying books, but I don't do that now. Hell, I barely buy physical books any more. Everything is audio or ebooks. I do like talking to authors. I've met some great authors and have yet to have any of the Author Behaving Badly be any of the authors I actually read, which as been great. The thing I love most about blogging, is the number of friends that I've made in the blogging community. I've met some really great people and I don't think I would've met them if it weren't for book blogging. Great topic and thanks for sharing.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    1. I LOVE audiobooks. I love to revisit old favorites on audio but I also like to use them to get to the new releases I don't have time to read but still really want to experience.

      That is one big take away from this experience...all the friendships. I'm still making new friends all the time, whether online or at events. It's kind of awesome how a love of books brings people together. :)

  8. This is a terrific post, Jen. And I think a lot of us have experienced similar changes in our reading, especially if we've been blogging for a while.

    Fewer trips to bookstores? Check.

    Envy? Check. (In my case, sometimes it's ARC envy and sometimes, well... I've been doing this for almost 7 years and I still don't have a big following. Numbers aren't why I blog, but I have to admit that I sometimes feel that little touch of envy when I see someone else's followers begin to climb and climb. Yet at the same time, I'm glad for them.)

    Reading fewer old books? Check. (Sort of. I've been working on that this year, and I have done more of the re-reading I love and crave, but I still haven't read as many older titles that are new to me as I would like.)

    Listening to more audiobooks? Check. But that's really more due to my daughter's influence than the blogging, as well as my sister's. They're the ones who finally got me into them.

    Collecting books. Check, but I have to admit that I've been doing that since I was about 8!

    The urge to write. Still working on this one. I'd like to be there... but I'm still blocked by a lot of fear (of not doing it well enough, of my ideas not being original or even any good, etc.)

    I'm working on some of these, insofar as I'm unhappy with any of the changes. But there are positive changes, too. I went through a long period where I rarely read any new-to-me authors. That has changed drastically, and I've discovered some new favorite authors that way. So that's one change that is definitely positive!

    1. Thank you! I'm glad to have the support, but I wish we could all be the readers we want to be. :)

      I miss those trips to the bookstore. I'm sure my pocketbook doesn't...or my shelves for that matter. It wouldn't be so bad if my library actually had a decent selection, but it's not like I'm really lacking for reading material. :P

      I really, really, REALLY try not to play the numbers game. That's just a recipe for failure for me. I've got enough ways and reasons to compare myself with other bloggers...I don't need to add that one to the mix. I'm honestly just glad ANYONE wants to read what I have to say, ya know?

      I've only been able to get to older books via audio, but I'm really going to try to get to some of my physical books this year. And maybe then I can get rid of some more. I became a real book hoarder there for awhile, and the collecting doesn't help, but trying to keep my shelves just for favorite authors and series might.

      I just want to write for myself. I don't know that I'll even let anyone read it, but I just want to put pen to paper and create a story. Don't worry about the doubts...just do it for yourself!

      I'd all but given up before I wrote this post, but seeing so many positive, supportive words of encouragement have really helped my frame of mind. I hope if I just change a few key things, blogging will be for me what it once was. I hope you continue with your positive streak!

    2. Hang in there and do what feels right for YOU. That's the only thing that really matters...finding the ways to live and read and maybe blog that bring you joy. I hope you find that joy again!

    3. Aw, you are seriously the sweetest! Again, thank you for the words of encouragement. I already feel better about where this blog is headed. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...