In June I wrote a post titled “My Paranormal Pfunk” about my reading slump, lamenting the lack of original/interesting/non irritating, paranormal reading. Everything was sounding the same to me. I got a lot of advice and as time passed I read a few good PNR/UF books and deemed my slump over.
Not only did my reading slump return but it spread to all genres. Last year I would say that out of the 100’s of books I read, 90% of them were good to great. This year? I would swap those numbers and say 90% bored or worse - irritated me, and 10% were books I enjoyed. That is abysmal, especially if you’re trying to blog. I have no problem writing a negative review, I believe in being honest, but when you start feeling openly hostile when you crack open a book and reading becomes a chore that’s not really fair to anyone.
I noticed several bloggers with the same issue and everyone was wondering how to get out of the slump. I thought about it a lot the past few months and had a bit of an epiphany so I’m going to share my thoughts. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, this is just my experience.
Warning - rambling ahead.....
The first thing that happens to you when you start blogging is that reading is now homework. No matter how much you love a book – you now read with a notebook, pen and post-it notes nearby. When you’re done, you can’t move on right away, you have to write a review or at least jot down your observations so you won’t forget your stream of consciousness. This is a blast at first and fun when you just adore a book and can’t wait to share, but it does ruin that laid back reading experience and feeling of escape that you used to have when you read before. Add in book tours/ARC deadlines and you can see how a hobby that you once loved can all of sudden become a chore.
Everyone wants followers. Why blog or share your thoughts if no-one is reading it? Once you get going though you now feel obligated to post on a regular basis or risk losing followers. This brings me back to the point I made earlier; something fun turns into a job. I know I got to the point that I was (or trying to anyway) review every single book I read. Sometimes I read 5-7 books a week so that can be daunting.
Now I will share my epiphany (it's mindblowing and will change the world of reading - OK - probably not) but this is the thing that I realized was the biggest factor in contributing to my reading slump.
A few weeks ago I was in the book store wandering around as I often do. I was checking out all the books that were the next “IT” books that everyone must have and I realized ….that isn’t how I used to choose a book to read. Before I started blogging I would scan the shelves – of all genres, pick up the books that sounded interesting, pass on the ones that didn’t. I didn’t know who any of the authors were or how high they ranked on any sales charts, or if they were the nicest people on Twitter; I just picked what sounded good to me.
Now I head straight for the books that I’ve read at least a half dozen amazing reviews for. I must read it NOW! I would say at least 50% of the time it isn’t even a book I would normally read but everyone loves it so I want to see what all the buzz is about. I admit it – I feel left out if I don’t read it. I feel like I’m missing out on the greatest book ever! When a book is popular everyone tweets about it – blogs about it and makes me want to read it – desperately… even if I know deep in my gut it’s not for me. This above all other factors has led me to my reading slump. I’m reading books I don’t like and I pretty much know I won’t like them before I buy them which is just a waste of money for me and not fair to the author whose book I will be reviewing.
Although having said that, there have been a few books that I have been dead set against reading, but picked them up anyway because of rave reviews and been proven wrong. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White comes to mind, Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade is another. Both great books that I resisted reading at first.
In the past month I’ve changed a few things and have been happily reading again. Are they all great books? No. But I’m less inclined to want to throw the book across the room and I’m finding that my good to bad book ratio has improved dramatically.
The first thing I did to jump start was to not read at all for a few weeks. I also didn’t read too many blogs in that time. I just needed to refresh and not be so hype driven in my book selections.
The next thing was to not get so hung up on blogging. I love the people I’ve met through the blog and of course I want my blog to continue to grow but it shouldn’t be something you feel forced to do and that’s what it was becoming for me. I like sharing my opinion and my love of books but I want it to keep it fun. Sometimes I won’t feel like writing posts and that’s ok. I’ve also found that instead of writing full posts for every book I read, I write mini reviews’ or quick thoughts on Goodreads instead. That way people still know what I think but I don’t have to go crazy writing full length reviews for every single book I read.
And lastly – I’m reading whatever the hell I want - not what everyone else is reading!! Sometimes I will be jumping on the bandwagon of an overly hyped book and sometimes I won't. It’s ok if I don’t love what everyone else does. (I hope).
How about you guys? Have you been in a reading slump? How did you get out of it?