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!