The Sunday Salon.comToday is the third and final in series of Sunday Salon posts in which I also reviewed my 2011 reading goals and launched a new project.

There comes a moment in most book bloggers’ blogging careers, I think, when the review requests start to take over. It’s exciting when they start rolling in, so many people wanting you to read a particular book, wanting you to share your thoughts on it with the world. This point is a defining moment, in my experience, because you must choose in which direction your blog will go.

I reached this point about halfway through 2011. I have very little willpower where books are concerned, and over the summer, I accepted more books for review than my usual reading schedule could accommodate. Don’t get me wrong — I very much enjoyed reading those books and working with the people who got them into my hands. Some of the things I did not like, however, were feeling I had no choice in what I would read next, not having the flexibility to join a readalong or pick up a book on a whim, and writing reviews of the same book so many other bloggers were also reviewing. I almost completely stopped reading books I owned because of the influx of new titles. Writing reviews of such books also feels different for me. I feel I must be complete in my review, instead of sharing my thoughts and following them where they lead me. I call my reviews “thoughts” for a reason, but lately they’ve begun to feel more like reviews.

My lack of willpower means I can’t just cut back on books I accept for review. So instead, I’ve decided to stop accepting unsolicited review requests. I’ll continue to honor standing agreements with a handful of authors and publishers whose work I very much enjoy and will still be using LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, Shelf Awareness and NetGalley to find new titles that interest me. But when that unexpected query pops up in my inbox, I’m giving myself permission to just say no.

So. What do I plan to read if not review copies?

Classics: I’ve gotten away from reading classics during the second half of the year, and I miss them. Reading Buddies picks: One a month, just like we’ve been doing. A monthly book for my IRL book group. “Hard” books for my brand new reading project, just READ it. And the rest? The books from my shelves. The books you rave about so much I must read them. The books for readalongs and monthly events that pop up. And, of course, the occasional review copy, as chosen by yours truly.

The only change you’ll see in Erin Reads is in the newness (or lack thereof) of the books I’m reading. They may not all be brand new releases, but they will be books I’ve chosen because they genuinely interest me.

I’m excited. This feels right. And it’s backed up by statistical evidence…but you’ll have to wait for my end-of-year stats post to hear about that!

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15 Comments

  1. I have nothing against review copies (though personally I haven’t accept more than a dozen or so in nearly five years of blogging), but it makes me very happy to see more bloggers focusing on older releases. I want to know about new books, sure, but I also want to discover hidden gems. And pointing me towards them is something that traditional review outlets just don’t do. So I’m also excited about your new focus πŸ™‚

  2. Sounds like an exciting change. I’d be glad to see more review venues β€” blogs, magazines, and others β€”Β expand their focus away from just new books, to include books overlooked on publication for whatever reason.

  3. I never did accept a lot of review copies, but I still go overwhelmed by them. Now, I’d rather not take them at all. If one sounds interesting, I’ll make note of it and get it once my library orders it!

  4. I think a lot of us are going through this right now, and are making some of the same resolutions. I know it’s something that I have been struggling with for a long time as well, and I have sort of decided that I need to have the freedom to do things on my own time, or else it just feels like a job that I don’t want to do. Very perceptive thoughts about this. I hope that your planned changed make you a little happier πŸ™‚

  5. I rarely accept a review title because I want to read what I want to read. It is very seductive to get the latest titles but there are so many older books that I have not read and want to read. There are always plenty of new books coming out so I know I’ll never run out of reading material. Good luck with your “resolution”. I imagine it will be tough to say no.

  6. Good luck with your decision. I don’t accept very many titles for review mostly because I don’t like having my time to read constrained by what I must read. I already have enough of that thanks to school.

  7. This happened to me this year too. I starting feeling like all the books I was buying and everything I wanted to read had to be put on hold and it bothered me. So I stopped accepting books for review. It felt good to do that and I’m excited about searching the shelves for my next read again.

  8. I totally hear you!! It is exciting at first and then it gets overwhelming. I like to “self-select” the books I’m going to review like requesting them through LibraryThing or Amazon Vine. It gets to be too much after awhile. Good for you for making the change.

  9. Everything you said, times infinity. This was my first full year as a fancy book blogger, and while I’ve relished the glut of free books, I’ve learned the hard way that free doesn’t always equal good. (Making my top ten this year was hard; ten greats didn’t immediately come to mind, depressingly!)

    I’m trying to limit my 2012 review commitments as well so I can read more organically — whatever catches my fancy, essentially, new or old.

    Brava on your changes, and I look forward to what you pick up in 2012!

  10. Good for you! I also experienced this same revelation/epiphany this year and found that as soon as I stopped accepting just any ole ARC, my reading and blogging satisfaction increased immensely. The RIP Challenge is what sealed the deal for me. I had the best experience with it because all the books I read were ones that I picked out! Since that point, I’ve only accepted an ARC if it’s about a subject or by an author that I would have picked up anyway. That is now beginning to be few and far between anyway, so I’m enjoying everything even more so now!

    Enjoy your new reading experience; I think you’ll really enjoy it even more so now!

  11. Honestly? I’m thrilled that more book bloggers seem to be getting back to the basics in their reading. Because my reading is SO limited, I’m not interested AT ALL in reading about books that haven’t come out yet. I’d much rather read book thoughts on those that I’ve heard of, have read, or plan to read (though when there’s so many reviews of a particular book then it’s bound to eventually grab my attention).

    Good luck with the endeavors Erin–I look forward to seeing what grabs you!

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