This week That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, “Books I Didn’t Like, but Am Still Glad I Read,” sent me down a long, deep rabbit hole. I started out by moving back over the last few years looking for books that would fit the prompt. Then I began noticing a few things, like how few books I gave “C” ratings to before I started blogging, and how many more “A” books I read before I started blogging. I started asking myself questions, like “Have I become a harsher critic of books?” and “Have I lost some of the joy of reading?
Before I digress too far, let’s take a look at my stats for the last six years. For each year I looked at the grades I gave to the first 32 books I read that year. I picked 32 because in 2016 I had read 32 books before launching Novel Visits.
As you can clearly see my success rate with books has dramatically decreased the last two years. My best year of all was 2016 and those books were from the start of 2016, BEFORE I started blogging. In those first four years almost two thirds of the books I read I rated as “A’s” compared to roughly one third for the last two years. That’s concerning to me. So, why? I’m not sure, but am going to throw out theories and I’d LOVE your thoughts, suggestions, feedback and/or any little rabbit tunnels I may have missed.
Theory #1 – I’ve become worse at selecting books for myself.
I don’t think this is exactly true, but I do think that these days I stick with books more often if they’re sort of on the bubble for me. If it’s an ARC and I’m just not sure, I try to give the book more time. So, I’m DNF’ing at a lower rate, thereby reading more books I don’t really like. I’ve only DNF’d 7 books this year and that’s low for me. Before I started blogging, if the Kindle sample didn’t grab me, I was done. That eliminated a lot of books very early on. I was left with the cream. I’m also picking books I want to read months ahead of their release now, whereas before blogging, I was selecting books much closer to their release dates. I’m something of a mood reader, so this might this be significant.
Theory #2 – I’m not getting as much pleasure out of books.
There is something to this. Let’s face it, grade “A” books are a joy to read. Anyone is having a darn good year when over 60% of the books he or she reads are “A” books. I also think knowing I need to write about books I’m reading somehow takes some of the simple pleasure out of a book. I think it’s harder for me to get completely lost in a book. It still happens, but not as easily as it once did and that’s a little sad.
Theory #3 – I’ve become a harsher critic of books.
I know this is true. When I looked back to some of the 2013-2015 books I gave “B’s” to, I was surprised (even shocked). I’m confident today some of these would be “C’s”. It seems I have far less tolerance, less forgiveness for flaws in books today, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
Theory #4 – Blogging has changed my relationship with books.
This I also know to be true, and it’s not all bad. Before blogging, I had a very intimate relationship with the books I read. It was a one-on-one relationship, that got lonely. Blogging opened up the book world for me, bringing with it a whole community that I hadn’t realized I’d yearned to be a part of. That community filled up a portion of my book world, but it also took some of the romance off of the books themselves.
Theory #5 – There just aren’t as many great books as there used to be.
I REFUSE to believe this!
I’d like to get back to the place where I’m reading mainly “A” books and I think there are a couple steps I can take to help get me there.
- DNF more and earlier.
- Save books I’m on the fence about for the library or a Kindle sample.
- Allow space for “mood” reading by making fewer requests.
- Try to take mental focus off of the need to review books.
- Try to think about the review only AFTER I’ve finished a book.
- Remember that I don’t need to review every book I read.
This is hard and I’m not exactly sure how to help my reading quality get back to where it once was, so suggestions are welcome.
One Last Question
Since this rabbit hole I’ve traveled down started with looking at book ratings, I’d like some feedback on that. I’ve noticed that some book bloggers have stopped rating books with any sort of star or grade score. It’s something I’ve been considering myself mainly because I hate it when people tell me they aren’t going to read a book because I only gave it a “B”. A “B” is a GOOD grade! What do you think of reviews that don’t include a rating? Does it matter to you? Do you prefer to just read the review and gather information that way?