I have been blogging about books for almost six years now. Obviously, I was a big reader before I started this blog. When I published my first post in December of 2014, I was already about six months into my masters degree in English. I was two years out of college, and had spent those two years really getting back into reading again. I was enjoying reading lots of books and discovering book blogs and BookTube.

And then things changed… I started my own blog. I started this blog to share my love of books with people who cared, because it felt like such a big part of me. I wasn’t expecting it to completely change the way I read. I don’t regret it, but I do think about it a lot. So, today, I thought I’d share some of the ways this blog has changed my reading habits. I’m sure some of you fellow book bloggers will relate.

I Choose Books for Blog Posts, Not Because I Want To

This isn’t 100% of the time. But it is a lot. I’ll get a book for review and have to read that one before I read a book I really want to read just for fun. I have my secret TBR posts (basically themed reading lists) that don’t always consist of books I want to read.

In the early days of my blog, I was reading a lot of things I didn’t love just because I felt like I had to to “be a book blogger”. Everyone was reading Cassandra Clare and John Green, so I felt like I should read them to fit in or stay relevant. I’m not sure whether adult book bloggers weren’t as prevalent six years ago, or if I just hadn’t discovered them yet, but so much of my focus was on YA. Which I have largely (though not completely) stopped reading and talking about.

This honestly has pros and cons. Sometimes, it works out really well. Recently, I literally let Buzzfeed choose my reading list. None of those books were at the top of my “want-to-read” list. But I ended up really liking every single one of them (and even finding two new favorites). I probably wouldn’t have read them anytime soon if it wasn’t for that post, so I’m glad I did it. On the other hand, several times this year already, I’ve had to force myself to read books I wasn’t in the mood for just to get my reviews up on schedule.

Which brings us to my next point….

I Feel Pressure to Read a Lot

Last month, I had a massive reading slump. And someone made a comment on my wrap-up that three books didn’t really seem like a slump. If three books (or one or two) is what you read every month, that’s totally fine. But, for me, I feel constant pressure to read enough to come out with new and fresh content.

Part of the problem, for me, is that I read pretty much anything. That should not be a problem. But when you’re a book blogger, it can be. I am well aware that this blog doesn’t really have a focus. It’s kind of just me talking about whatever I like or want to share. I like it that way (and I hope you do, too). However, I do get a lot of ideas for list or themed posts. I’m working on a post about romance novels I like and another about nonfiction books by authors of color. And it just always feels like I haven’t read enough in those categories to write a comprehensive post. I need to read more romance if I want to talk about it, and read more biographies if I want to write a post about my favorites.

I know this is pressure I put on myself. But it’s really not easy to keep up with the amount of reading I want to do in order to have this blog be something I want it to be. I gave myself a break last month, and am now trying to play catch-up. I literally have a reading calendar with scheduled deadlines. It seems insane, I know. But, of the eleven books on the schedule for the rest of this month, eight are books I need to read for upcoming posts. Which are also scheduled on the calendar.

I Pay Way More Attention to Book News

I barely remember how I used to choose books to read before I was a book blogger. When I was a pre-teen, I do remember choosing the books in “my section” of the bookstore with the most provocative titles just to annoy my mom (one I distinctly remember causing a massive eye-roll was The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things). I also remember finding one author I liked and then just reading everything by them (Meg Cabot was literally how I transitioned into reading adult romance… at thirteen). I’d occasionally hear about books from friends and read those, but that was very rare.

But now, I’m the one everyone comes to for book recommendations. Or anything related to books. In the three or so years of the book club my cousins started, I think they’ve only chosen one book I hadn’t already read. I will just mention something great I’d read recently, and everyone is just “sounds awesome, let’s read that!”. One time, I sat there while everyone said what they liked in books and came up with a book that had a good mix of all of the things. I just know a lot about books. But that means I tend to not get a lot of personal recommendations to help me choose new books.

But that also means I very rarely purchase books I don’t know much about. My most recent purchase: Grant by Ron Chernow. Which I am reading for an upcoming blog post and the current Tome Topple readathon. I’ve also done my research on it and know what people are saying about it. I very rarely just pick up books just because they look good anymore.

Also on that master reading calendar? A list of new releases on my radar that goes about four months out. I know what’s coming and when. I know what is winning awards or on the awards short and long lists for this year. I am just way more in-tune with the world of book news than I ever have been. It somehow feels like I am able to better choose which books I will like, but also that I’m not choosing them for myself.

I Have Read a Lot of Really Bad Books (and Learned From It)

When I first started this blog, review copies were like magical unicorns. Really hard to come by, but made you feel great when you finally got to pet one. So I said “yes” to literally any review copy I could get my hands on. Which ended up being my biggest regret when it came to this blog.

Because I wasn’t reading and sharing books I felt passionate about (or at least doing a cool, creative post with). I was reading books just because someone asked me too and it was free. And some of those were genuinely bad. In a way, that was good. Because I now have a frame of reference for what a terrible book looks like. I read more than one self-published book that was painfully bad. I’m talking run-on sentences and weird sentence fragments bad.

Several times I wanted to give the honest response of “sorry, I can’t review this, please get yourself an editor”. But that meant I had already read the bad book. And had put myself through hours of cringe-worthy grammar and super cheesy dialogue. It still makes me flinch when I think about them. I don’t regret learning that lesson the hard way, but I wish I’d figured it out sooner.

I Had to Learn to Say No to Free Books

I think book blogging and getting so many review copies has made me a little bit jaded, especially about self-published books. They aren’t inherently bad, but I have had some pretty bad experiences with them. I feel like I’m more inclined to stick to “safe” books – books I think I will like based on reviews – and very occasionally pick up others, but only when they serve a purpose for my blog. Maybe that sounds bad, but I just can’t do it anymore. I would literally rather have to pay for every single book I discuss on this blog than get one more free book with such terrible grammar that I can’t even see the plot. It’s just painful.

Like I said, when I first started, I just couldn’t say no to free books. I was new and it still felt really exciting. But it just ended up being a massive mistake.

I have gotten more than one review request that begins with “I am requesting you to review my book” – which, sadly, is not a joke. I’ve been ignoring these for a while (because I have a full-time job and like some occasional free time, so I don’t have time to respond to the dozens of review requests I get, #sorrynotsorry). And man, some of these people are pushy. I am getting borderline harassed over email sometimes because I don’t want to read a book. I joke about it to my friends, but the better I do on my blog, the more often it happens, and it’s kind of crazy. Like, do you really think bugging me every day for a month is going to make me read your book?

It’s My Blog & My Reading Time – I Can Do What I Want

But I have only recently learned that having a blog doesn’t mean I owe anyone anything. I am doing this for free because it makes me happy. Reading a million books I don’t actually want to read does not make me happy. I am still figuring out how to move forward without writing book reviews. Which feels like such a rebel move for a book blogger, but I genuinely don’t like writing them, and I feel like you can tell. I feel like this blog is going to be so much better going forward.

I can’t believe it took me almost six years to come to this conclusion. But it was a learning experience. Book blogging kind of changed my reading for the worse in the beginning because I didn’t really know how to handle it. But now, I think it’s a lot better. I’m having more fun and enjoying more books, and that’s what’s important.

So, while it was a kind of roundabout journey, book blogging did end up chaining my reading for the better.

I hope you found this post interesting or helpful (if you’re a book blogger). Book blogging has changed my reading habits. Kind of for the worse in the beginning, but I learned a lot from it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! If you’re a book blogger, do you think your blog has changed your reading tastes or habits? Do you think they’ve been better or worse?

30 thoughts

  1. Great, informative post! I really like the format of your blog, where you post about what you want and on varied topics, and it sounds like that’s what works best for you too. I’m glad that blogging has had a net positive impact on your reading, and that your blog is in a place that really work for you now. Also – I chuckled at the Meg Cabot comment. I remember reading her books with a tiny flashlight in bed (when I was like 15), and being terrified that my parents would catch me reading “romance novels” instead of sleeping lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you like this format! It’s a lot more fun to write than just reviews and doing whatever everyone else is doing.

      Also, yay for flashlight readers! My parents didn’t pay enough attention to notice what I was reading (I probably shouldn’t have been reading Philippa Gregory at 13), but they did care about me reading util 2am on a school night haha

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with every single one of these! I tried to think the other day how I used to find out about new books before I started blogging, and I couldn’t even picture it. And the emails for review copies sometimes are just…not well thought out. Like when they start the email with “Dear Melting” I just ignore the email because if they can’t be bothered to look to the right of the screen to see my actual name, then I can’t be bothered to email them back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I genuinely don’t really remember how I used to choose books, either. I had to think about it a lot to even remember the couple examples in this post.

      And yeah, sometimes those emails are ridiculous. I got one the other day that said “I saw you review mafia romance on Amazon”, which I have literally never done. I didn’t even know mafia romance was a thing and I never post my reviews on Amazon. At least they got my name right…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “I Choose Books for Blog Posts, Not Because I Want To” This right here is exactly why I can’t bring myself to get involved with book tours and advanced copies. I read very eclectically, and it’s not super conducive to having a popular blog, but whatever. I liked your last point better, it’s my blog, I’m going to do what I want. lol.

    Great post! It was interesting to see your thought process and how you’ve changed over time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I haven’t ever done a blog tour for that reason, and I’m starting to phase out the advanced copies. It’s sad that we kind of have to sell out to be “popular”. But I don’t care anymore because I don’t get paid to do this, so I can do whatever I want. Glad you’re doing the same! It’s sad that taking control of our blogs feels so rebellious haha

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I read a lot more since becoming a blogger and am more in tune with bookish news, too. I am happy about both of these things. And while I haven’t said ‘yes’ to every free book that comes along, I am learning to be even pickier about the ARCs I request. I’m getting tired of the overlong and poorly written books I end up being stuck with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the ARC thing is so enticing, but I feel like it doesn’t end up being great for most of us. It’s basically free marketing for publishers, and I’m kind of realizing that I don’t like how that works.


  5. Hit the mark with every one of these! I’ve started to say no to most review requests that I get through email because I have so many books sitting on my floor that I need to read, that I want to read! I think the biggest thing for me is that I still put pressure on myself to read a lot, get review posts out, etc. I stopped requesting from NetGalley for the time being too, which feels nice, though I know that I will be a little pickier whenever I do go back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m being better about NetGalley, too. I used to just request everything because I got approved for so few of them. And then I got approved for like 20 books in one month, and regretted everything. I’m down to like 5 for this year, all of which I would pick up anyway. Just trying to figure out how to deal with them now that I’m not doing straight reviews anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I went through that though I only got maybe 6 in a month but had maybe 4-6 other books that I wanted to read too.
        You can still just post on NetGalley and then Goodreads or like BN

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s what I’m planning to do with a few of these. But some of them are books I actually want to talk about, just not do full reviews on, so I’m trying to come up with posts where I can discuss them.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. This was such a great read and I loved how the topics flowed too! I started blogging in 2014 too and after a couple of years just stopped as uni and blogging had caused me to totally burnout on reading and books in general. Coming back now I feel like I know what to look out for a bit better, but it was great reading this post and reinforcing those ideas and discovering some new advice too!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad to hear that you’re starting to find a balance you’re happy with! You’re not the only blogger I follow who’s decided to do fewer or no review posts. Personally, I do like reviews, but I think discussions and fun feature posts are great too and are favorites for a lot of blog readers.

    I used to find myself reading books when I wasn’t excited about them for blog tours or to read an ARC by the pub date and so I’ve just stopped doing both of those things. If I don’t directly e-mail a publisher and request an ARC, I don’t make myself read it by the pub date and I’ve stopped doing tours entirely. For me, that’s helped a lot. I do still sometimes use my blog and my to-read list to make myself pick up a difficult book I feel I should read, but I think that’s good for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I like reading reviews occasionally, but it got to the point where every single one of them felt like a chore to write. Which isn’t great. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who has stopped writing them!

      I also use my blog to read books I feel like I should read, but I have honestly found some favorites that way, so I have no regrets. When I read all those books for my Buzzfeed post a while ago, the one on that list I had been avoiding for like ten years ended up being a new favorite. So it’s definitely a good thing! 😊


  8. It is all about you and your desire to post as you deem. I was an avid reader but life got in the way. Lord willing I am three years away from retirement and I am now trying to ease back into reading as before. We are here to support you. Remain safe.

    Liked by 1 person

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