This post is inspired by a few videos I’ve seen floating around BookTube, mainly Laura’s video, The Way We Used to Read: Reader Fatigue and Reading as Spectacle, as well as Mercedes’s video, Am I Falling Out of Love With Reading? Both videos made me think about how I read now vs. how I used to read, be it pre-blogging, or during the early days of blogging.
Like I had mentioned before, I wasn’t always an avid reader. I can go anywhere from reading 100 to over 200 books in a year (this year I’m over 250) these days, but in the early days of blogging and before blogging, I’d read anywhere from 30 books to maybe 100 books in a year – if that. I used to go to the library (never the bookstore, really) and I would browse the stacks and just find books that looked good to me. If I was in a bookstore, I was probably in a used bookstore, and again, I’d find something that sounded good to me. Book blogs and BookTube wasn’t a thing back then and I didn’t read a lot of reviews anywhere else. I’d just pick up what other people (in real life!) were talking about, or just get what looked interesting.
Blogging became a thing for me around 2007. I remember finding this one book blog; I can’t even remember the name of it now and I don’t even think it still exists, but I loved reading this girl’s reviews. She didn’t post them daily, or have discussions or memes or anything like that, but just her thoughts on books. I loved reading her blog so much that eventually I started my own and when I did, I continued on how I used to.
I used to read …
- slowly, taking my time with a book.
- sporadically, not reading all the time or immediately picking up another book after finishing one.
- what I wanted or what looked interesting, not really going with the trend of what was popular.
- what I owned or library books, maybe having a handful of books on my owned TBR rather than a couple hundred.
- one book at a time, never multiple books.
In 2011 and 2012, I feel like book blogging became a “thing” – everyone was doing it and the book blog world exploded with blogs. But still, there weren’t as many as there are now. I remember having great relationships with publishers, but still didn’t really know anything about authors. It still seemed weird to me from that time between 2007 and 2011 to want to get an author’s signature in my books. I was a music person and I felt like it made sense to see a musician after a performance and get their autograph, but authors didn’t seem that big to me. I think it was with the rise of Twitter and actually getting to know more about the authors that I was reading that I got interested in them and actually paid attention to who was coming to town for book signings and whatnot. All of a sudden, it was exciting to me! Lawrence Hill is coming to town? Sign me up!
But when book blogs suddenly became a thing, the downside was that all of a sudden everyone was talking about the same books. There was this hype surrounding certain books and it felt like I had to be reading what everyone else was reading. I had to accept review books and read the most popular books that publishing houses had. I had to talk positively about everything and didn’t want to tarnish a relationship by not liking a book. Rarely did I read a lot of older books and I found my tastes heading towards Young Adult books because that’s what everyone was reading. There was definitely a time that I loved these books, but in these later years, I’ve found that my tastes have gone elsewhere.
Now, in 2017, I don’t want to read what everyone else is reading. I want to pay attention to the books that make me happy rather than the books that are hyped, whether they’re old classics or modern classics, and definitely the books that everyone isn’t talking about. In 2017, it’s tiring to me to see the same posts on the same books and authors, while there are other deserving authors out there who should be hyped. I think that’s why I’ve loved reading more Canada – it’s so much fun to find new-to-me Canadian authors and talk about them on social media, hype them up, these authors that aren’t talked about a lot (or, at least, nowhere I’ve seen).
Now, in 2017, I’ve realized that blogging should be what I want it to be. There was a time when I wanted to be popular and tried to emulate the popular blogs. I felt like I needed this huge status and tons of followers and the only way I could do that was to read what was popular and what everyone was talking about. I’ve also realized that blogging isn’t a competition, even though it feels like it is sometimes. Maybe I’ve grown up with my blogging and reading, but it seems silly to me that I used to buy the hyped books that everyone was talking about without actually knowing that sometimes bloggers are paid to hype up these books and maybe they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. I’ve realized that I can go back to vlogging on BookTube again and I don’t need a ring light or perfect shelves or to look perfect or to say perfect things in perfect coherence. I can just be me on both fronts, blog and vlog, and the people who want to say something will say something.
Now, in 2017, I’ve realized that I like reading whatever the heck I want to read. I like reading the books on my shelves and hyping up deserving and little-known authors. I like reading when I want to read, whether that’s all the time or not. I’ve realized that it’s okay to carry over books into another month rather than pushing myself to finish everything by month’s end. It’s okay to take a few weeks or a few months to read a book, it’s not a contest with anyone but myself. It’s okay to read 20 books in a year or 200 books in a year, but I don’t need to put the pressure on myself to read a certain amount, but just make sure that I am reading when I want to and taking a break when I want to. It’s okay to make reading lists for the month and not follow them, just like it’s okay to set goals to read the winning titles from every Canadian book award just for fun – even if the only person who cares is me. It’s okay to go weeks or months without blogging – there are no “rules” with blogging, just the rules I’ve engrained in my brain. And you know what? Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.
So now that 2017 is winding down, I want to go back 10 years. I want to browse the bookstore or the library and just find books that look interesting to me. I want to take breaks, watch a TV show, or just take a nap, rather than feel like I have to read x number of books in a week, month, or year. I want to not follow the hype and buy ridiculous amounts of books, feeling like I have to for the sake of followers. It’s so interesting to think that I started this blog for me and to have those moments of over-importance, thinking that if I read something different or didn’t post in a month, or something, that my followers would care. Ultimately, in 2017, I still blog for me and if people like that, that’s great.
I don’t think I’m ready to give up a reading goal, but I feel like I’m going to set one goal, not up it and not stress about reaching it or going over it. I still love using Goodreads, just for the sake of tracking certain things, and I love the Savvy Reader’s 50 Book Pledge and the goals that come with it. Reading isn’t a competitive thing and no one cares if I am still reading the same book in two month’s time. I will still love planning the books that I want to read, but I’ve realized, at 36, that I had gone off track with my reading in the past years. It’s kind of fun to get back to my roots with reading. I honestly think that 2018 is going to be a great year of reading and I look forward to doing it just for me.
How do you view your reading in 2017? Are you a competitive reader with yourself? Or with others? Do you find that the rise of social media led you to change your reading habits? Do you read according to the ‘hype’ or just what looks interesting to you? What does your 2018 reading look like?