September Challenge Update, and Where Do I Go From Here

September 2, 2019 Challenges, Musings 14


Challenge Update

through Aug. 31, 2019

I’ve read or reread 149 books this year so far, putting me 23 books ahead for my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’ve read 13 of 20 books for the Backlist Reader Challenge, but only reviewed two of them so far. For the Audiobook Challenge 2019I’ve listened to 9 of 20 books; I don’t think I’m going to make my goal, but we’ll see. (Note to self: choose more short books.) Again, I’ve only reviewed one of them.  I’m utterly failing the Blogger Shame Challenge, although there are a few books I’ve read or reread this year that will count if I can just get the reviews written. I’ve met my reading goal for the 2019 Library Lovers Challenge (14 books, and my goal was 12), but I’m woefully behind on writing reviews for them as well. Finally, I’ve been pretty laid back when it comes to the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, but I wasn’t planning to read All The Things for that one anyway, so that’s fine. There are probably a few additional books I’ve finished that would fit the challenge; at some point, I’ll sit down with my list of this year’s completed books and determine whether any of them qualify.

You can see the current state of all my 2019 challenges here, including lists of the books I have read and reviewed, and those I have read but not yet reviewed.


If you’re sensing a pattern here, you’re right. I have been struggling with writing reviews for at least a year now. I feel burnt out and uncreative when it comes to review writing. Everything I say feels either trite or unoriginal. When I compare my current reviews with some I wrote 5 or 6 years ago, it’s discouraging. My older reviews were more thoughtful and substantive, and better written. I’m trying to figure out why and how that changed, and how I can recover some of my former enthusiasm, perceptiveness, and skill. I attribute some of the difference to a deliberate attempt to change my writing voice to something more colloquial, more like other bloggers’ voices. In retrospect, that was probably a bad idea; I think I write better when I let my more “academic” voice shine through.

I also write better when I’m reviewing because I really want to share my thoughts on a particular book, rather than out of a sense of obligation. That argues for requesting/accepting fewer ARCs (even though they are often hard to resist!), and reading more books simply for the joy of reading them. Additionally, I need to challenge myself to read some “meatier” books. There are legitimate reasons I often read very fluffy books, but it has become a habit that sometimes stands in my way of reading or sticking with longer or more challenging fare—books that my past self would have cheerfully, even greedily devoured. I’m not talking about Russian novels here, or Les Miserables, but books like The Priory of the Orange Tree. 

I’m not sure what this means for the future of the blog. I’m not planning to give it up! But I want to find my authentic voice again, and the pleasure I took in crafting well-written reviews, early on.  I hope you’ll bear with me while I experiment a little… although things may look the same for the near future, since I have already committed to quite a few ARC reviews. As time goes on, you may see me reviewing fewer ARCs and more library books. I’ll just have to see where these thoughts and feelings lead me.



14 Responses to “September Challenge Update, and Where Do I Go From Here”

  1. Bea's Book Nook

    I do think you should stick with your original voice when it comes to writing reviews. Your reviews were awesome, and distinctive. Be you. Sometimes, that means being more academic and sometimes it may mean being more colloquial. Do what fits the book, and you. Reading and reviewing should be fun.

  2. Lark

    Feeling like I have to review a book always gives me writer’s block. That’s why some of my reviews lately end up being short haikus. ;D

  3. Angela

    Consistently writing reviews can become monotonous – I’ve tried doing different review formats to try to keep things interesting. Good luck!

  4. Nicole @ BookWyrmKnits

    One thing that worked for me was mixing in “mini reviews” with the regular reviews. Sometimes it’s easier to just write a bullet point list of things I liked, or have a paragraph of review along with some favorite quotes. But one thing is for sure: I have not kept my same review style for the full 10+ years I’ve been writing book reviews!

    I hope you find what works for you without too much trouble. Sometimes just acknowledging it is the biggest step.
    Nicole @ BookWyrmKnits recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday ~ Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside of My Comfort ZoneMy Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      That’s reassuring. I’ll experiment a bit with short or bullet reviews for books I don’t have much to say about, and see if it gets me fired up to write the more in-depth reviews for books I really loved.

  5. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    I’m very glad you’re not planning on giving up! It does sound like a bit of a mental refresh is in order. I’m trying to get away from ARCs because reading is becoming stressful and overwhelming and while I’m not a mood reader sometimes I want to pick up a book that interests me without worrying it will throw off my schedule. Looking forward to seeing what all you mix in!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I keep trying to cut back on ARCs, and then something really tempting comes along and I find myself clicking “Request.” I guess I should just stop looking altogether — but NetGalley and Edelweiss are how I keep track of what’s coming out!

  6. Nicci @ Sunny Buzzy Books

    I’m not good with reviewing either but I’ve just decided to write whatever I think and not worry too much about it being nicely crafted or overly thoughtful. I’m now sticking to the basics: What’s it about (in a nutshell), did I like it? Why did I (dis)like it? And move on. I figure it’s my blog so my rambling thoughts or opinions will shine through and be enough or not, lol.
    Worrying about whether my reviews were’good’ or comparing to others was killing me and my blog joy so I let it go.

    As for challenges… I’m horribly behind too but oh well! Shit happens. No one will die. 🙂 At least you’re bossing your GR Challenge!
    Nicci @ Sunny Buzzy Books recently posted…Weekly Update #76My Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I get that, and I’m glad you found an approach that works for you. For me, it’s almost the other way around; feeling that I’m not writing well (or as well as I used to) has been killing my joy. But I will keep trying to figure out what will work!