Friday, April 11, 2014

How Book Blogging has Changed Us

'Books behind the bed' photo (c) 2006, rjp - license:

It has been a few years now since we started Fangs for the Fantasy and it has transformed so much. I can honestly say that I’m a more thoughtful reader now, certainly a much more conscious reader. Book blogging has certainly changed us and made us more aware of the various issues in the media we consume every day.

Of course, it has also made some other, rather less impactful, changes to our reading habits.

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: when I finished a book I loved, I turned right back to the beginning and re-read that and all it’s awesomeness! Some of my favourites series have been re-read so many times they can be shuffled like a deck of cards.

And Now? Re-read?! Are you out of your MIND?! Have you seen our to-read pile? We barely have time to read everything once let alone twice! Books are single use items, never ever to be seen again. Re-reading a book is blasphemy to the book blogger!

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: when I read a book I found boring or dull… I put it down and went to find a new one. Or I re-read one of my favourites. Never, ever could reading be WORK! That’s ridiculous…

And Now? when I read a book I find boring, I start to put it down… then look at our DNF and 0.5 Fang lists. And I think “ok, it’s bad… but it’s not as bad as them…” and then I HAVE to keep reading - desperately hoping that it either improves - or becomes so utterly awful I can drop it in the box with the other DNFs without feeling guilt (and, yes, after 3 years of hindsight I do feel kind of guilty about Sunshine). If it’s not as bad as them - then I have a duty to finish it.

Gods have mercy on me.

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: actually receiving an email or tweet from an author would make me kind of giddy. An author had actually notice me! These are people you queue for hours in book shops so they can write their name in your copy of their book while gazing in tongue-tied adoration at them! THE BRINGER OF LITERARY GOODNESS NOTICED ME!!!

And Now?: Oh shit, we “read the book wrong” again… I cringe and put off opening the email as long possible for fear of the angry flounce that we may face. Of course, quite often it’s a nice polite response from an author who is kindly thanking us for a review (thank you, we love you!) but there’s always that cringe that the Outraged Author lurks within…

...or, almost as stressfully, they could be offering their book to review.

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: The thought of getting a book for free, or even an ARC ,would have be doing cartwheels! Yeah, what could be better than a free book that I didn’t have to worry about returning to the library? And, of course, it means the publisher actually wants to give little me a freebie!

And Now: An ARC means I must check publication dates and try somehow to fit it into our ever expanding to read list. I cringe at the growing to-read list, like a giant avalanche of books threatening to overwhelm us. It doesn’t mean jump for joy, it means more work. Yes, work.  

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: When faced with a 600 page book, as long as it was by an author who interested me, I had no problem diving in. I read the entire Wheel of Time series (And Robert Jordan is the most long winded author known to mankind). I read the entire Sword of Truth series (which convinced me Terry Goodkind has a disturbing fetish for Ann Rand) long books were no challenge! I didn’t think about how long it was going to take me to read and only considered the possibility of losing myself in an interesting world.

And Now?: 800 pages? Hell, 400 pages is enough to make me pause and think. Today 800 pages translates to about 2 1/2 reviews! That’s 3 days worth of material for one book! Keeping the site updated means I don’t have time to tackle this let alone waste time thinking about it.

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: I was happy take random suggestions on books to read.  Hence my BFF owing me hours back in my life for reading for reading A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. (And Sparky is still planning epic revenge for the one who bought him the Sword of Truth series)

And Now?: Oprah’s book, or  random recommendations are not going to cut. I head straight to Goodreads and read the reviews, google the author, check out the author’s webpage and even read a sample chapter or two before committing.  When you are short of time and have a pace to keep up, you don’t have time to just pick up a book because some random person thought it might be up your alley.
And if it's outside the genre? I don't care if reading it causes spontaneous multiple orgasms, it isn't clogging up the to read pile!

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: when I saw a book series or TV show that was kind of in our genre but I wasn’t enjoying? I just didn’t read or watch it! Easily avoided - why endure something I don’t like? That’s some kind of twisted media masochism!

And Now?: well, we should cover it… so how do I get Renee to read it? (Or vice-versa). Problem solved! The epic battles over who has to read/watch a terrible series will be noted in history as some of the battles of the century

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: If there was a long series of books that were, at best, meh or maybe even dire… I could just stop! No, really (ok, the fact I own the entire Anita Blake series makes that a pretty big self-deluding lie - but I COULD stop. Really). The torture could have ended

And Now?: the Reading List must be fed! It must be complete! There are certain release dates for long running series I regard with the same sense of dread as some people had for the Mayan Apocalypse or the Republican Primary. I can see it looming ahead of me… another book I will have to endure… I start trying to make excuses why I should stop reading this series, I convince myself they’ll stop writing, that this will be the last one…

Alas, only the good series end.

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: I read a book I liked, looked up the author and found - joy of joys - it’s just the first in a long series and I have 8 more awesome books to read before I have to wait for them to release another one!

And Now? HOW MANY BOOKS?! I’m HOW FAR BEHIND?! Oh you are kidding me! What did I do to deserve this?! Whyyyyy did they write that many? Whyyyyy?!

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: All I need to read a book was good lighting, sufficient time and maybe (well alright more than maybe) a glass of White wine.

And Now?: I still need all of those things but now I also need access to wikipedia, a good program for taking notes and of course my trusty tablet because one never knows when an opportunity might arise to read and you cannot do that without having your entire library with you. And possibly a synopsis of previous books for fact checking

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: A list of newly released books was an intriguing catalogue of books I may be interested in.

And Now?: It’s a guilt trip! All these books I NEED to read and review and will NEVER HAVE TIME FOR!!!!

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: A book I quite liked was a nice, happy, easy read. Nothing wrong with it, it’s fun - perfect for whiling away an hour or so… Great!

And Now?: Why couldn’t it have been shit?! If it were awful at least I’d have something to write about! Couldn’t you throw in a vapid love triangle and a racist uncle or something? There is NOTHING worse than a decent but non-distinct book to review - “meh” is never sufficient while you spend an hour staring at a blank blog post trying to think of something to say and justify the last 8 hours you spent reading.

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: I could read someone’s blog/twitter or even get to know them and really like and respect them - so I’d go read their book and if it wasn’t exactly brilliant, well, no harm.

And Now?: Ah hell… I really like them and now I have to say nasty things about their book? Damn… how to say “cure for insomnia” nicely?