For What It's Worth

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blogging and reading slumps....

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.

Very premature.

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?


  1. Good rant! I have been in reading slumps and I honestly do nto know how I have gotten out of them..sometimes a good re-read have helped.

    As for reviews, many do complain and yes sometimes it feels like a chore, but that is only the writing part cos I never take notes or anything while reading. That would kill the joy for me

  2. This is a really great post, Karen!

    I have been in reading slump multiple times this year and the reason was EXACTLY like you stated. Sometimes I read books that others really enjoy but I ended up didn't and I begin to wonder why did I not enjoy this while EVERYONE else does? I begin to think "What is wrong with me?".

    Such notion to like anything that everyone likes indeed killed the joy of reading. I've now start reading back genres that I used to devour and it did get better. I've to admit that I'm not entirely a good blogger out there, so I rarely feel pressure to write anything. Perhaps, in some ways, it is a bliss living far away from the States/UK where you can get your hands on review copies a little more easily. I use to feel jealous of those books other people get, but now - I didn't.

  3. I don't reading should be homework. It should be what you love to do. And you should read want you want. I understand the pressure to read what is out there. I don't get many ARC's so my review are usually behind. I have to wait to buy the book.And I don't let anyone kill my reading buzz. Reading is my escape from my everyday stressful world.

  4. @Blodeuedd I keep notes but I don't get too crazy about it. Sometimes I don't write a review for a few weeks after i've read the book. Must keep it fun!

    @Shy I don't sign up for tours or anything because once you start getting all those books you're forced to read I get that panicky I would rather buy what i want and read whenever I want to. I went to BEA in May and got 80 ARC's and it was so stressful. I ended up giving a lot of them away.

  5. @Savannah Yes! I need to be more like you :-)

  6. Great post! I had an epiphany this morning similar to yours. The hype today is for Last Sacrifice...I was prepared to run out and buy it the first chance I got today. When I thought about doing that I immediately dreaded reading the book. So, I decided not to buy it. I'm not ready to read it. I will buy it when I'm ready and I hope I will enjoy it.

    I think all the hype makes us forget why we read books. It's getting back to that that makes reading enjoyable again.

    Hope your slump is gone for now. And just FYI...if you lose a follower because you aren't blogging enough, it's their loss. You're posts are fun and inforamtional. Besides I've gotten some great recommendations from them. :)

  7. I can definitely see how this slump can occur. I think it is so important to make sure that no matter what, you are reading books that you like, not just what everyone is hyping about. It took me a good year or two to pick up one of the Twilight books...and you know how much hype those had. I just feel like when a book gets a lot of hype, I have to know that it is something I would have read had I not heard all these great tweets/blog posts/etc about it.

    I'm glad you are back and ready to blog!


  8. @Jen ahhh the series! The mother all We get whipped into such a fenzy debating/discussing series. It gets stressful.
    I remember I read Twilight before I ever heard of blogs and I read it blissfully unaware that there was even a thing called a love traingle....I just read the series and moved on vs. The Hunger Games...oy...I almost had a nervous breakdown leading up to the end of that one!

  9. As I started reviewing, I ran into that issue as well--I found myself reading what lots of other people liked/loved, despite the fact they weren't the kind of novels I read before I started posting reviews. It was a relief to realize that I held no obligation to read what everyone else was reading.

  10. Can't say I have hit a slump yet but that's probably because I can't buy books too often. I've also just recently gone back to reviewing books because I was on hiatus for October and parts of November because I had started work. I also don't just read and review novels but manga and graphic novels as well and manga is always such a great escape for me and keeps things from becoming mundane. Its also great if I don't feel like reading something long.

    Its also great to pick what you want to read and not what everyone else loves. If a book doesn't interest me I'm not getting it :)

    Great post!

  11. I can certainly see how can easily be drawn into a slump.

    When I do book tours or requests I make sure that those are only books I want to read. Whenever I feel "rushed" to get the newest and greatest literary creation I...stop!

    The beauty of this hobby is that our posts are relevant today and will be relevant in 50 years. Heck, I just reviewed a 150 year old book.

    So I simply remind myself, whether or not I review the hottest seller upon release doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, nor does it matter for my blog's goals.


  12. Thank you! This post was just what I needed. I have not only been in a reading slump but I have also been in a blogging slump. I was just thinking "What am I going to do?" and then i saw this post on my blog roll...Fait? I think so! I am currently reading 2 books that I am enjoying but I don't have the desire to pick them up, I see them on my coffee table but I just don't feel like it! Although I am enjoying the books I can only muster up enough energy to read a few pages here and there. Now I'm starting to feel pressured because 1 out of the 2 books has a review deadline and it turns me off even more. I've read other posts about blogging and reading slumps but never thought it would happen to me. "I Love This!" I kept saying but alas it has happened. I still love blogging and reading but I just feel overwhelmed at the moment. Anyhoo, sorry for the mini rant but a big thanks to this post!! :D

  13. Interesting post! I have had some ups and downs in the last few months, and the last time I had a real slump, I decided I'd read my way through some Roald Dahl books, and make that one month's focus.

    I find it hard to keep up with all the good-sounding books, between what I see on blogs, and what I see in the review journals I read at my library.... so many books, so little time, I guess.

  14. @Sandy @Man of la books - that is the right attitude to have. Sometimes you hear so many good things about a book that it I buy it thinking somehow my tastes will change :-)

    @Golden Eagle @Crazy Bookworm @Jo - glad I'm not the only one! I think if you read a lot of books you are bound to hit a slump but this was something more - I was hating everything. Here's hoping we all stay out of reading slumps!

  15. Actually about halfway through this year I quit accepting review books and ARCS to read what I want! I had to remind myself that reading is something I enjoyed and didn't want to turn into a job :)

    I do "try" to read book club books but sometimes I don't even finish those. Good rant and read whatever you want :) I know I do LOL

  16. You know I have been, which is why I'm taking this much needed week or two off from blogging. Even so, I've been going crazy over the fact that, despite my break, I need to read specific books because I agreed to review them.

    Last night I was driving myself batshit crazy trying to force myself to start THE DARK DIVINE. And why? Because I got an ARC of TLS and I felt like I HAD to review both before 12/10. Honestly, TDD is the last book I want to read right now, and I don't know why.

    I haven't figured out a remedy for my book slump. I just told myself that I was going to get these review requests done before the end of the year and give myself a break/read what I want next year.

  17. I can relate. I'm so tired of being disappointed. For me, though, the issue is the complete lack of basic writing skills (and the complete lack of basic editing that allows the mistakes to make it into the finished book). It drives me absolutely crazy to see the same mistakes over and over and over again. It's as if today's authors are all taking the same grammar course (that I suspect is being taught by some ESL student who only learned English last week). I'm seriously considering starting a new policy in which I give myself permission to drop any book that dares to try to pass off these mistakes as "good writing". I'm sick of this nonsense, and it's making me start to hate reading.

  18. Well, this post hit home. I'm a very new blogger but it was like you picked my brain a wrote down all my fears of what might happen to me if ever I started to view reading as a chore. If ever I regretted starting my blog in the first place. Well, thanks for your tips on how to avoid a slump. Hopefully I'll never have to put them in use...

  19. @Felicia- Luckily I don't get many ARC's to review and I'm fine with that. The last thing I need is a time crunch along with everything else!
    @Tori- You help me through my slumps!! I just got Anna - if it's bad I'll find you
    @LaCoccinelle - I'm starting to find that too, mostly with the smaller publishers. I have been dissapointed with so many books lately it's depressing.
    @Aylee - just remember to have fun and not get caught up in the race for followers and ARC's and read what you love!!

  20. Awesome post, Karen!! I have taken the same kinds of steps, trying to make blogging fun again. I think we talked about all of this a couple of months ago :)

    I do really like what you said about how you shop differently since you started blogging. I wasn't really aware, but I think I do the same thing. I'll have to try not to get so caught up in the peer pressure aspect.

    Thank you so much for stopping by my vintage blog, I really appreciate the support :)

  21. Thanks so much for the advice!

  22. my biggest problem was....the deadlines. It was fun at first. Then it got overwhelming, having to have something done by a certain time. December so far has been a great reading month simply because I only have 3 reviews this month and they don't have deadlines. I feel like, I don't have to read the review book right now. I have time.

    great article!

  23. You are wonderful and I am proud of you! This post is really striking a chord with everyone. :-) I feel like I have to read the IT-books, but I just sign up for them on a tour. That way, I've done my obligatory looking-at-it and have formed and opinion and passed the book on.

    And you write tremendously well whether you do mini-reviews, Goodreads notes, or full blown essays. *major hugs*

  24. Fabulous post Karen, it's so very true that even though I still love to read, it has become more of a process than it was previously. I have a schedule now of posts so I have to move certain books ahead of others to keep up and I do keep that notebook nearby just in case I think of something I want to say. Very different from just sitting down and reading:)

    To help make it less feel like work, I usually just work ahead on the blog so I can take a week off and read whatever I feel like reading, usually a fun paranormal romance or something that I just get to sit and enjoy. I for the most part enjoy all the books I read, but it's sometimes fun to have one I don't have to read while thinking how I'm going to explain my feelings about it.

    I agree with Tiger, your reviews are always well done and I have fun reading your thoughts!

  25. Oh my gosh, I so totally agree with you!!!

    That's exactly what I was doing, too ... forcing myself to read books just because they were new releases, or everyone was reading + raving about them for whatever reason ... it's the worst habit and I think that, after a while, it happens to most people who start book review blogs.

    Even though I've stopped blogging, I actually still have to stop myself from gravitating towards certain books, because - although I'm not interested in them at all - I still have this subconscious urge to read them! Ugh. It's horrible.

    On the other hand, I did discover loads of amazing books that I'd never have read otherwise ... but I'm not sure it was worth the trauma, lol.

  26. I'm sure there are lots of us nodding our heads now, I know I am. I especially agree with what you say about being sucked into reading books just because everyone else is - something that occasionaly works out well but nine times out of ten I'm left wondering why I bothered and if I'm somehow abnormal for not enjoying something the rest of blogsphere seems to be raving over.

  27. Thanks everyone - seems we're all in the same boat!
    @Bella - I think we got hit really hard with We're always in a desperate quest for that one great book that everyone is raving about.
    We must read what we like and not fall into the hype. Sometimes we might like what everyone else does and soemtimes we won't. It's OK :-)
    We need to start a support group!!

  28. Oh, yes, yes, yes and more yes. Since I just restarted my blogging and am finding my way back up in my Amazon ranking, I feel like I have to "follow the leaders" and review the trendy stuff, but it's been killing my appetite for reading lately. I'd gone from four to six books a week to a very difficult two. I made a decision early on to not even try to have any followers until I built up my blog to a point where I was comfortable with the level of reviews, so I don't feel like I have to maintain a number of reviews per week, but it bothers me when I fall behind on my own standards.

    I ended up just switching genres right now. I'm reading a lot of YA at the moments, I'm beta reading a really dark erotica and I have a few historicals on tap. I finished off the paranormals I "had" to do and am just letting the others sit until I feel better about going at them in a better frame of mind. When I start getting depressed about my reading material, the best thing I do is to get off of Twitter for a while.

  29. I don't usually get sucked into reading/reviewing books that everyone else reads but I found that requesting books and having them sent by an author/publisher made me feel like I had to read/review it and that turned blogging into a chore rather than something I enjoyed doing. As such I no longer accept requests to read/review a book and I'm a lot happier for it. Of course, you can't beat free and so that is the downside of not doing such anymore.
    As for followers...I was ecstatic when I reached 20 so numbers don't really matter that much to me. As long as one person out there is reading the blog then it's all good and I will have been happy to share my thoughts.