I’ve been mulling over this post in my head for a few days, but in actuality it’s something I’ve been thinking about for the past year. Bear with me, this may include long rants and me being sentimental. Grab your coffee kids, and hunker down for this post, and prepare for a lot of terrible segue ways and jumping of topics.
I’ve been doing blogging for about four or five years and in my “About” section on my blog, I proudly proclaim that I “love it more and more each day!” Truth? That’s probably half a lie. Why the bitter feelings you ask? I can break it down into a couple different categories which I’ll talk about separately here:
God, I love the book community. It’s half the reason I started because I had talked to a few people who were so awesome and loved reading and talking about books they liked to read, which was a perfect outlet for me because none of my friends really liked to read so I could finally voice my opinion to people who cared. I still love this about the community, and it’s half the reason I’ve kept up with blogging for as long as I have. Now, I’m not saying I’m some all-knowing blogger just because I’ve been doing it since way back in 2011, quite the opposite. I have learned a ton about the publishing world, authors, and books in general, which is awesome because I used to want to go into that industry.
That being said, I also have seen an uglier side to the community that has never really gone away and actually seems to be dominating a large amount of the community the more I really stop to take a look around. I see a lot more animosity between bloggers, people calling each other out publicly, shaming one and other for everything under the sun.
Frankly, I find it really sad. Yes, lines have to be drawn on some matters (for instance lately I’ve heard a lot of buzz about people selling ARC’s. Like come on). But, I also think that why most of us have chosen to be apart of this community gets lost in the (quite literal) grab for ARC’s, authors’ attention, Internet fame, the list goes on. I’ve always taken a hands-off approach to interacting with people in the community, and this could stem from my old-fashioned ways of being taught that “everyone on the internet is a creep! Don’t give out personal information!” etc. In real life, I’m not open with a lot of people either unless you’re one of my really good friends, so that’s probably on me. At the end of the day though, why does it matter what people think of me? I’m here to talk about books and characters that I love, hate, or love to hate, right? But it does matter, because it has become so engrained in the community that it matters.
The Books and the ARC’s
Going back again to when I first started blogging, I had no idea what an ARC was. Something that is commandeered by Noah right? Has animals on it? The Story Siren (remember Kristi? Remember her IMM’s? Remember that whole plagiarism scandal? – which I’ll get to all that in a minute) had all these FAQ’s and information for new bloggers and I studied that as if it were an answer sheet for an upcoming midterm. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right, following all the (unspoken and sometimes spoken) rules, and generally being a great fellow blogger. To this day, I still think back to those original “guidelines” and I think it’s what has made me, well, me in the blogging community.
Okay so on ARC’s and books in general: when I was first contacted to review an ARC for an indie author/publisher I was ecstatic. I thought, wow! I’ve made it! I don’t remember the name of the book or who it was, but it was an e-galley and I remember giving it an enthusiastic 5-star rating, which in hindsight it probably didn’t deserve. Now, don’t get your panties in a twist just yet, the reason I say that, is because back then, I was giving pretty much all my ARC’s/Review Requests 5-star ratings. I didn’t want to make the individual mad who had taken the time to email me to read their book, just to slam it right in front of their face (which is why I’ve since added on my blog, that even if I don’t like a book, I will review it. Just a disclaimer).
Then the physical ARC’s came in and it felt like the whole world was smiling down on me. I do remember emailing (and writing physical letters. YES I DID THAT *hides head in shame* *laughs at self*) about 5 or 10 publishing companies asking to be put on a list for their next releases. Almost all of them ignored me, but a couple didn’t, and to this day I still get regular emails from companies like Poppy/Little Brown about reviewing books.
But then…college happened, and I fell behind. WAY behind (in fact I’m STILL behind) on reading/reviewing ARC’s that had/have been sent to me. And my god, the guilt began to eat at me. I like to think I’m a pretty compassionate person, so it still really hurts me that I haven’t reviewed some ARC’s that are sitting on my shelves. If books had eyes, they’d be glaring at me. If they had mouths, they’d be screaming at me to read them.
My want for ARC’s though stemmed a lot from the time when I started watching BookTube (and halfway considering that I could do BookTube. This thought was quickly dashed when I tried to film myself once and realized I hated the sound of my voice, how awkward I looked, the terrible camera quality, etc.). There was all these really amazing and cool people showing all these books they had gotten! Thus, I was introduced to the hauls. Going back to Kristi at the Story Siren, I found myself aching to be able to hold a stack of 20 books up to a camera and say, “See? Look what I got!” Disregarding completely that I would have no possible time to ever read all of them, much less store them.
So, I went through about a year of LOVING BookTube and wanting to watch as many videos as possible, until I started realizing how much I couldn’t stand to watch the videos anymore. Were the people still amazing and cool? Yeah, they still are to this day, don’t get me wrong. But I was really disgusted with myself that I had begun to fantasize, romanticize, whatever the word is, these people who were just…people. I had become so self-obsessed with wanting to be someone I wasn’t, and read books that I wouldn’t even like (which led to a lot of stupid, stupid, book purchases). Leading to my next point…
We’ve all succumbed to it at some point. Stop shaking your head, you know you have. In my time in the book blogging community, I’ve probably purchased between 20-40 books that I would never have bought if 10 or 15 people hadn’t raved about and said “YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO READ THIS! ASDFGHJKL!!!” A reason why I now, try not to read Goodreads ratings, and rather just stick to reading the synopsis’ because I had essentially stopped caring what the book was going to be about, and instead wanted to join in and say “yeah I loved that book too!” Most of the time? I ended up hating it, and didn’t want to say anything on my blog, for fear of being ostracized. This led to a lot of other reviews of me gushing about a book that I felt more of a, two star on the five star rating scale, about.
Just as a short example: my junior year of high school all my friends read The Hunger Games and LOVED it. I read it and HATED it. I thought it was boring, dull, yawn-fest, etc. I really questioned why people liked the things they liked and why was I so different that I didn’t like it? Was there something wrong with me? Although, I read it again, a few years later and fell in love with it too. I do like the second and third one’s a lot better, but that’s beside the point.
Throughout this blogging journey, I got really tired of writing reviews. I still am to be quite honest. The last time I felt passionate about writing a review was probably 6 months to a year ago (not including Go Set a Watchmen because I had a lot to say about that). That’s really sad. If this is my passion, why am I dragging my feet? Because it feels like homework. It feels like an assignment that I’m doing for a grade, and I can’t seem to shake that feeling. I still love doing my monthly wrap up posts because I can just give my star rating and a quick sentence on why I gave it that rating. Express reviews, are what I’m really attracted to now, and not these horribly long 4 paragraph essays. I still love doing giveaways too, but I don’t participate in blog tours that much anymore either because I just can’t fathom the will to write out a review that I know will just be skimmed over anyways by someone online.
I’ve gone through a lot in my personal life whilst blogging and I think that’s affected a lot of what I read, when I read, what I blog, how I blog, why I blog, etc. but one fact still remains the same. I love to read. I will always love to read, always have loved to read since my parents sat me down and read Goodnight Moon and Corduroy to me 30 times in a row before bedtime. I love traveling to bookstores all across the country (and the world) and trailing my fingertips down the spines, breathing in the scent of old and new paper and reveling in the quiet atmosphere. I love reading about other characters lives, escaping my own, and forgetting the world for awhile. I love canon and non-canon fanfiction and fan theories. I love all the people I’ve met through this journey, and while it doesn’t end today, it certainly has slowed down. I’m at a walking pace now, whereas in the beginning I was sprinting, then slowing running. One day I may come to a complete stop and that’s fine! It’s not the end of the world and if I have to wait 6 months before reading the latest YA fantasy novel or YA teen romance then so be it. I’ve come into a time where I’m much more confident about who I am, and who I want to present myself as being, and it feels great.
P.S. Are you still there? Have you made it this far? Did you enjoy your snack? Thanks for listening everyone.