In my five years of blogging, writing blog posts and book reviews have only made me like reading more. But I hear a lot about bloggers who get burned out on writing reviews and even on reading itself.
This summer, I’ve struggled with this (seemingly simple) question: what do I want to read?
Like most book bloggers, at any given time I can point to piles on my bookshelf, and virtual “piles” on my Kindle. So when I finish a book, what do I pick up next?
There are people who need spontaneity or they won’t be happy. List of books, schedules, and challenges make reading feel like a chore. Usually I’m not one of those people. I consider myself someone who needs help deciding among a huge array of options. I need to narrow my choices, so TBR lists and reading challenges help me. I have other “rules” that I follow, like not reading too much of any one genre, and not reading books in the same series one after the other.
My reading choices are generally driven by the following:
- What I already own.
- ARCs and Review Requests (should be read and reviewed by date of publication).
- Books that come in on my library wait list (I only have 21 days before they go back).
- Books for challenges, readalongs, or my spring/summer/fall TBR list.
- Favorite authors or award winners.
After all that, there’s the occasional impulse read based on recommendations from other bloggers or NYT Book Reviews. For example, right now I really want to read The Beautiful Bureaucrat and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. But umm, I already have a ton of books I feel I “need” to read. Right now, I have three books from NetGalley and two books from the library that have to be read by a certain date. I need to read something translated for my library’s Summer Reading Bingo. And I volunteered for The House of the Spirits read along but was surprised to find I’d have to locate a paper copy of the book because it doesn’t exist in Kindle form.
Therein lies the problem. Why do I “need” to read anything? Is it a good thing to have all of these books pulling me in different directions? Shouldn’t I just read for enjoyment, and enjoy what I read?
Lately I feel like I’m giving myself assignments rather than reading for fun. It’s summer and I’m feeling restless. I gave up on two books last month and I don’t want to feel guilty about that. But I also don’t want to immerse myself in semi-stupid series books when I have a Margaret Atwood and a Kazuo Ishiguro on my “to read” list.
I’m also going on vacation. For me, vacation is a time for lots of reading, and it doesn’t need to be light reading as long as it’s good. No “beach reads” for me. On my Kindle I’ve got Atwood, Ishiguro, David Mitchell, and Isabel Allende. I’ve got Cheryl Strayed’s book of advice columns and Felicia Day’s new memoir. I’ve got Ernest Cline’s Armada and the second book in Hugh Howey’s series.
But then I hear how great The Beautiful Bureaucrat is, and I’m torn. Is it okay to pick up just one more book? Blogging hasn’t taken away any of my enjoyment of reading, but it’s certainly cut into my ability to choose spontaneously, just because I want to read something.
Vacation is a time to read what you want to read. I just wish it was easier to figure out what that is.
So, book blogger, how do you choose what you read? Do you ever get overwhelmed, and how do you keep reading fun?
This post is part of the Book Blogger Discussion Challenge sponsored by Feed Your Fiction Addiction.