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 2019, I’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.