How Do You Do It?

As well as writing reviews and talking about books I have loved, I often find myself thinking about Book Blogging and the marvellous world I fell into three years ago.

For me, part of doing all this is sometimes to stop and take stock of where I am and where I want to be, and well, seeing that this is my blog, I guess it is also my space to talk about things that I think about when I am talking to you about all things bookish.

I have to tell you that something has been really bothering me for a while, and so I am just going to put it out there.

How do you deal with all the books you have on your teetering TBR? The books that have been on your bookshelves for so long that you stumble upon them by surprise? The ones you promised yourself you would definitely read and review for a publisher this month – but never do..

I want to ask specifically about the books you have asked for – when the fabulous publicists ask for Bloggers and Bookstagrammers to put their hands up for a copy.

That’s right, how do you feel when you have asked for a book – and you don’t manage to read it- even though at the time you told yourself you definitely would?

Do you try and post a picture and a tweet/post about the book on publication day, or do you do nothing? Or are you disciplined and you only ask for those books you know you will definitely read and review?

We’ve all done it, fallen down that rabbit hole where the delicious promise of the new book being offered is too hard to resist, and that ever present Fear Of Missing Out kicks in. It makes us believe that if we don’t manage to get a copy of the book everyone is talking about, that we are losing out on some shared bookish wonder, and that we are not part of the ‘gang’..

If you are lucky enough to get a copy of the book, it arrives, you post it on your social media channels, making sure you tag and thank all the people you know you should, put it on your bookshelf ready to read at the right moment – and sometimes, for whatever reason – you don’t.

My Bookshelves are right next to where I sit, and as I am typing this and glance to my right, there are all my latest books and proofs filed in publication date order, patiently waiting for their chance to fall in my hands so I can read and shout about them to you all.

I would love to hear how you deal with your ever increasing reading pile and especially the books that you have asked for. I’ve done it, and have got to the point where I have had so many sitting on my shelves that I feel completely embarrassed and honestly, truly guilty for asking for a book when I have no clue when I will actually have time to read and review it.

Recently, sometimes when I have emailed to request a proof, I have been asked where my review will appear with a request that I tag the appropriate people when I do it. I completely understand that. Proofs cost money to produce, and in recent times that is more pertinent than ever, so if a physical copy is being sent out, it seems only right to me that you should be asked where your review will be posted.

I like the fact that I am being held accountable for asking for a book, and I always keep in the back of my mind the fact that lots of other Book Bloggers would love the chance to read and review it. By reading and reviewing, I feel I am helping show the publishers how crucial and dedicated Book Bloggers are in spreading the word about their books.

How as Bloggers do we find the balance between wanting to shout about books we are excited about, but also in being honest to the people who follow us and trust our book recommendations? Can you request a book, post about it and then never read it? Do people ever ask you what you thought about a certain book and you haven’t actually read it, and if so, did you feel embarrassed about admitting it?

I just honestly wonder now whether increasingly sometimes the thrill of the chase and the collecting of the books takes precedence over actually reading and reviewing them. Perhaps it’s when you are confronted by the groaning bookshelves in front of you do you realise you are never going to be able to read them all – and that’s a difficult thing to admit to yourself, and even harder to say to everyone else too.

I don’t have an answer, and I am sure lots of you have your own opinions about how you deal with your TBR pile, and the right and wrongs of asking for books. I feel like I just needed to put my thoughts down in a post to get them straight!

2020 has been a pretty challenging year for lots of us for many reasons, and in my toughest months, it has been reading and sharing with you about books I have loved that quite honestly, have kept me going this year. Perhaps I need to remember that the very reason I started Years of Reading was not to be in some sort of bookish race – be it reading the most or having the latest releases, but quite simply to be totally authentic about books I have read and loved, so I can be honest in my recommendations to you and help you find the books that you love as much as I do.


Clare xx

18 thoughts on “How Do You Do It?

  1. janetemson says:

    I don’t really request books any more. I’ll answer emails offering proofs and let the publisher know I may not get to it for a while. More often than not they are happy with that. I’ll only promise to review by a certain date if I know (or believe) that I can fulfil that time frame. As we all know, those are famous last words and things can go awry. I don’t get as many proofs now. Don’t get me wrong I still get some, and I’m always grateful for them but I’m a mood reader. If it means that my mood doesn’t appear for a particular book for a few months (or years) then so be it. I’ve long since realised I feel prejudiced towards a book if I “have” to read it, so that it becomes homework or a chore, rather than a hobby. Doesn’t stop me feeling bad though when I look at the shelves and realise I’ll probably never get to some. Like you say, there’s no wrong or right way. It’s down to whatever makes you feel comfortable and happy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      Thank you Janet, I absolutely agree with what you say. One of the key things is the idea that it can become like homework- and where’s the joy in that! This post has been really interesting in seeing how different people deal with their reading pile, and shows we all do what suits us – which I love!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. babbageandsweetcorn says:

    I don’t often get books sent to me unsolicited but I’m not requesting or saying yes to offers anywhere near as much as I used to. The number of books I felt I ‘had’ to read meant that I wasn’t actually reading any of the books that I wanted to buy! Now don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed reading many of the proofs I have received and I’m very grateful for all of them but it had started to take some of the joy out of reading so I now try very hard to be restrained 😆 I haven’t managed to transfer that skill to the bookshop yet though! So the shelves are still overflowing 😆 x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Darina says:

    This is a topic that’s been on my mind for a while now. I feel that many people do this on Instagram (sometimes on Twitter too) so I try to stay away from social media posts where no background on the book is given and prefer to read opinions on blog posts or videos. I also made a promise to myself to only request or review one ARC per month and have managed to stick to that promise so far!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      Thank you Darina, I’ve been thinking about this so much recently, and you are absolutely right. Sometimes if people have lots of books it can be daunting, and also I want to ask them how many of them they have actually read! I think your idea of requesting one ARC a month is a really good idea too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul Cheney says:

    Great post, Clare. I have made a conscious effort to not request as many books this year as in previous years for a number of reasons. I posted this at the beginning of the year for my reading intentions:

    I have always been a reader first and foremost and I get immense pleasure from reading and talking about books. It was reading that introduced me to NB magazine and the blog came off the back of that. After a lot of thought, I have decided that I am going to change the way that I am blogging. I am going to still be reading and reviewing on here and Good Reads and so on, but will be drastically reducing the number of review copies that I request as I can’t keep up. I am still happy to receive a book if a publisher or publicist still wishes to send them to me, but will not guarantee when I will get to read it. Instead, I have decided that I will either get the newly released books in 2020 from the library or buy them myself to read as and when I can. I will still take part in Blog Tours, but only a maximum of once a month as I don’t always like reading to a deadline.

    I have requested more than I intended to still…

    Liked by 1 person

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      I think you have perfectly articulated exactly what I have been thinking too Paul. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap of saying yes to everything, but the pressure we put ourselves under can become too much. That’s why I like to step back at certain times I think about what I’m doing.

      I am going to step back from blog tours next year too- I am going to try and be more disciplined so I don’t put even more pressure on myself! The problem is that just when you think you don’t need any more books, that perfect one is always published..!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paul Cheney says:

        I am doing three blog tours this month, but have only done 10 so far this year with four months with none whatsoever. I don’t mind doing them, but there is the pressure to finish and if you don’t like the book…


  5. BookerTalk says:

    I don’t put my hand up for a review copy unless I am very sure that I will read it – I think that’s only being fair to the author and the publisher. If I get to a situation where it looks unlikely I’ll read the book in a reasonable time frame, I let the publisher know – often they are ok with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bookwormbloggerweb says:

    This is such a great post Clare and I great discussion piece! I too started blogging about books three years ago and I fell into the NetGalley trap. I got a little trigger happy with my requests and ended up with a mountain of books to read and I am still playing catch up today. This year I have been more strict with myself and haven’t requested any books on NetGalley and only accepted books I know I can read by the deadline. I felt so guilty for the ones that were still on my list that I actually bought copies!

    Now most of my NetGalley reads come directly approved by the publishers so most of the time they are books by authors I am familiar with. I will request some more in the future but I will need to limit myself. I’ve set up a review policy so I have deadlines to stick to, that way I don’t let the author/publicist down.

    For my personal collection I’m always buying books and have a huge number on my bookcases to read but that doesn’t bother me too much. The way I see it, I’ve purchased the book and shown support to the author and I know I will read the books eventually. Like you said we read and blog for the enjoyment and to spread the book love and I think we all lose sight of that from time to time. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      I absolutely understand what you are saying – I started using Netgalley, but found it wasn’t for me – I can’t read digitally, but it’s the same thing isn’t it. Someone asks you to talk about a book, and you love reading so why wouldn’t you?

      I think so many of us fall down the rabbit hole of reading, wanting to read all the books all the time, and inadvertently putting ourselves under pressure.
      That’s why for me, during the year I like to step back and think about what I’m doing. Nothing gives me greater joy than when someone tells me they loved a book I recommended, but I would feel awful if they did so just because I posted a picture of it!

      By the way, if you buy books for yourself – there are no rules! It’s completely up to you…! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. NottsReader says:

    I simply request books that I would read anyway, as I find it easier to review a genre of books I normally woul read anyway. As I get arc through booksirens and netgalley,and I just use them as a free bookshop all I have to do is just write a review as payment.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Liz says:

    This is such an interesting post, Clare, thank you. I get review copies only through NetGalley but there is no less guilt and angst around e-copies of ARCs! I worry about the length of my ‘shelf’ and try to resist requesting any more titles, unless they seem to be absolute must-reads. Obviously it is expected that one will write a review and I am fine with that in principle. Unfortunately, though, I have recently had a run of DNFs and I hate writing less-than-positive reviews. So that has made me think that once I get through my current list of titles, I won’t request any more. After all, if I don’t like a book that I own, I can just keep quiet about it and concentrate on reviewing on my blog only those titles that I enjoyed reading.


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