I first started writing book reviews a little under a year ago. Back then, I presented my reviews as a monthly or bi-monthly round-up of the books I’d been reading, but since January, I’ve been writing more detailed and lengthy book reviews alongside these. Starting a blog is one of my proudest accomplishments, and moving into book blogging has been one of the best things I’ve been able to do with my blog. It’s introduced me to the completely and undeniably awesome book blogging community, it’s given me the opportunity to talk about my favourite interest, and it’s encouraged me to read more books, which can only ever be a good thing.
However, as I’ve heard a number of bloggers admit, there are downsides to book blogging. For different people, this manifests itself in different ways. Some bloggers feel under pressure to review all the ARCs they receive; some feel obligated to post as regularly as every day, and see themselves apologising for even the tiniest of lapses; perhaps worst of all, book blogging can open you up to trolling and harassment from authors, readers and publishers alike. In a lot of ways, I’m lucky: I don’t receive ARCs, so I’m under no pressure to review anything I don’t want to, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my life is too busy to post every day, and my experiences with trolling have been minimal.
But I do feel pressures from book blogging, and there are aspects of it that can spoil my enjoyment of books a little.
The Pressure To Read More
In some ways, this is great. Book blogging has diversified my reading interests, has introduced me to authors I never would have found out about otherwise and who I’ve grown to love, and has given me the perfect excuse to indulge in my favourite hobby. In other ways, this is still a pressure, as I sometimes feel like I just don’t read enough, particularly when I look at how many books a month other bloggers manage. Logically, I know that this shouldn’t be a problem. At the end of the day, I’m reading and reviewing because I love it, and it doesn’t matter how much other people are reading. So while this can be a pressure for some people, I’m just happy to be reading any books at all.
Writing reviews really makes you think about the books you’re reading, and this can be a real mood-killer. Sometimes, I just want to become completely lost in an addictive read and forget about everything else. Critical-thinking can be a real hindrance to this, as it means I see myself quickly picking out flaws in books I might otherwise love. Personally, I think it’s important to be critical of literature, particularly when it comes to books that don’t handle sensitive issues well, or books that actually express harmful viewpoints. But nit-picking tiny flaws in otherwise enjoyable reads just isn’t fun, and I almost wish I could be ignorant of the flaws in my favourite books.
Obsessing Over Ratings
This is a pressure of book blogging that I realised very early on. Within a couple of months of beginning to write book reviews, I noticed that whilst reading, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about the book in terms of star-ratings. I’d be pausing every now and then to assess whether this section of the book would be given four or five stars, and feeling disappointed when the start of a book “felt like a three-star kind of book”, which would then form a pre-judgement for the rest of the novel.
As a fairly obsessive person (I’m a nerd, and it’s kind of what we do best), this can really spoil my enjoyment of a book, as I just can’t stop thinking about how I would rate it. Luckily, I’ve seen my obsession with ratings fading a little with time as I’ve grown used to book blogging, but it’s still there in the back of my mind sometimes, and I do find myself spending too long deliberating over how to rate a book I’ve just finished.
I was in a bit of a reading slump earlier this month, and I’m pretty sure it was mostly down to over-saturation. As I read more books, it’s becoming harder and harder to find one that really excites me. I’ve still read five books this month, so perhaps my reading pace hasn’t slowed, but my enjoyment has. The books I’ve read have been great, and some of them, I’ve really enjoyed, but for whatever reason, some of the spark of finding a really great book has gone. It’s been a couple of months since I really fell in love with a book, and even then, I found myself being critical of its flaws, and I’m struggling to give anything a five-star review.
Is It Worth It?
So, there are downsides to book blogging. Reading has always been my favourite hobby, and book blogging has added an extra dimension to that, which is both amazing and sometimes difficult. There’s no denying that book blogging is hard work: writing isn’t easy, and neither is sharing your ideas with an audience. And if you care about how many people are reading your content, then book blogging does require a hefty time commitment and regular posting.
But most good things don’t come easy. Yes, book blogging has given my hobby a sense of obligation, but it’s also given me so many great experiences. I’ve made great friends through book blogging, I’ve read great books, and I really love sharing and discussing my love of books with other bookworms. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t something I enjoyed, and if ever the day comes when blogging brings me more pain than it does joy, then I won’t be doing it anymore.
For now, I think it’s important that I remember that blogging is my hobby, and try not to obsess over things like ratings when I should be enjoying a book. Gradually, I think I’m learning to find a balance.
Do you find that writing book reviews makes you more critical or spoils your enjoyment of books? I’d be really interested to know if other people have these same kind of feelings, and how you combat these, so let me know in the comments below!
*Note: If you add me as a friend on Goodreads, just let me know that you found me through my blog, so I know you’re a real person and aren’t just trying to promote something.