Sunday, March 15, 2009

Changes in My Reading Habits Since Blogging

It's occurred to me that my habits as a reader are significantly skewed, now that I'm a blogging reviewer.

Once upon a time, the thought of an entire series releasing one month after another would have thrilled me. I would have happily devoted myself to all the books in the series, purchasing and reading one after the other--or maybe even all at once. I did this with some older series, such as those by J. V. Jones, Deborah Chester, Elizabeth Haydon, and Stephen Lawhead. No problem.

Now that I'm blogging on books, I find myself wanting more time between novels. Right now, I'm reading the second book in a series where I enjoyed the first book very much . . . but it's a bit of a chore. I'm not sure if it's the book or me but this is fairly typical of my attitude with other books.

See? Skewed reading habits.

I also now have a "second chance" pile. It used to be that I would read the opening chapters of a novel and if I found I was not really in the mood for it, I would keep at it anyway. Rarely would I set one aside. For example: Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. I had to force myself to read past the first two hundred pages or so, until I reached the part where she finally went back in time. I only did this because a friend said it was worth it. And she was right.

Nowadays, it would have gone into the second chance pile after the first hundred pages. Yes, big bestseller that it is. That same friend has lent me Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, a novel I once would have devoured in about a week and a half. She lent it to me months ago, but it keeps coming out and going back into the pile. Fortunately, she's a very tolerant friend.

What about classics, like Crime and Punishment? No chance. Les Miserables? Forget it. Great Expectations? You've got to be kidding me. These are all book that I've read and loved. However, those were back in the days when I didn't have books arriving every week.

I kind of know how editors and agents feel with their slush pile.

I currently have four books in my second chance pile. Two, I will probably never finish because they aren't really to my taste, but I'm willing to give them another chance. The other two, I expect to read within the next month or so.

And what about those classics? That's another thing. I used to enjoy reading the classics, but I've only read two since starting Fantasy Debut. One was Rebecca and the other was an umpteenth rereading of Pride and Prejudice.

Speaking of rereading, used to love to reread. When I finished reading the abridged version of Les Miserables for the first time, I closed it, turned back to page one, and read it again. I did the same thing with Pride and Prejudice and Huckleberry Finn.

I have not reread one debut since starting Fantasy Debut. I tried rereading Lisa Shearin's Magic Lost, Trouble Found in advance of reading Armed and Magical, but I just had too many books on my plate. I haven't even attempted any others.

At this point, I still love what I'm doing and as long as I can keep my blog-life balance in check, I don't see stopping any time soon. But when I do stop, I'll have a lot of great books to reread! In the meantime, maybe I'll get through The Other Boleyn Girl, yet.


Maria said...

Long ago, in a not so distance place, I loved series. Before I started reviewing, I was angling away from them anyway. Now that I review? It seems I barely have time for ONE book, so don't even tell me how many will be in the series...

I follow through with very, very few series. I can count them on one hand. In my younger days (and that really was long ago and far away) I would read one and then buy the rest of the series (if available) and read straight through without breathing.

Some of my changing habits are due to changing tastes--but you're right. Reviewing changes not only what I read, but how I read it, how fast I read and what I am willing to read. It's expanded my horizons in a lot of ways, but in other ways, I am choosier about books I'm even willing to give a chance.

Tia Nevitt said...

Oh, I still loved series before I started this. I had started several mystery series, including Stephanie Plum, Maisy Dobbs and No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I like mystery because the series just goes on and on forever!

But I find that I'm OK with a lot of time between books.

David said...

This is one of the reasons why I don't think I'd go into the book publishing industry. One of my good friends is an editor for a small publisher, and she barely reads outside of work anymore because she has to read so much for work (I assume a similar sort of feeling might occur for reviewers, though not necessarily as bad).

Ever since I started my "list of books to read" about two years ago, I've reread only twice--at the very beginning of my list (mainly rereading #1 and #2 in a series before finally finishing the 8-book series) and when I reread a David Weber book (In Fury Born) a couple months ago that was mostly a rewrite/expansion of an early '90s novel he wrote (and I had read).

I literally have a pile of 54 books in my immediate "to read" status, and my general "books to read" list has 1819 books on it. I'm thinking this is a multi-decade project.

I still love series but I take them in smaller doses. I'm reading the 6th Malazan book by Steven Erikson right now and it's tough--I had read the first 5 about a year earlier over 4-5 months, so taking a year off didn't really help me remember who the heck all of these people were, so I'm pretty sure I'm missing a few points--that's probably because in between the 5th and 6th books I read 77 other ones. Yeesh.

ediFanoB said...


there are a lot of reasons for changing reading habits.

I'm a good example for this. In my youth Iread only German books. I liked science fiction and thrillers. Nowadays mostly I read fantasy and mostly in English. I'm a fan of long series. In the past I read - if possible -all books in series in a row. Nowadays I read other books in between a series.

And last year there was one more big change. I STARTED TO READ BLOGS. That's time consuming and has a lot of influence on my reading list.
But I like it.

Maria said...

It isn't just reviewing--it's the internet telling me just how many books are available. 10 years ago, the books I found were all in a bookstore, new and some used. Seven years ago, I started hitting the library pretty heavily. Three to five years ago, I started buying almost exclusively online and reading blogs like this one. The sheer number of books that I want to read went waaaay up.

Then I started reviewing and actually had access to books that just showed up.

So some of it is reviewing, but some of it is the fact that info about the books is so much easier to stumble across.

As for why I was angling away from series before I began reviewing...I don't know. I know that reviewing did have a very large effect on why I like series less than I used to!

Jeff C said...

Tia..I have the same problem as you, and had been thinking about making a similar post. I used to only read series that were complete. I would NEVER read a book if I knew I couldn't go to the store and buy the rest. But since I started blogging, that has changed. I think the biggest issue, though, isn't related to blogging itself. I have become more and more of a collector, meaning I buy books I think I will eventually read, instead of waiting until I am ready to read them. This means I now have 200 books in my unread pile. Having so many potentially good books to read, it is hard for me to commit to reading 3+ books in a row from the same series. I found that I want to jump around, and I don't mind the gap in reading the same books in a series. I never would have thought it would happen to me. However, the side effect is that I now get more excited about future releases, because I can't wait to see what happens next. Yeah, I lost the "comfort" in knowing I could jump into the next book, but the anticipation of looking ahead makes up for it.

sorry for the rambling. hope that made sense.

Charlotte said...

My habits have changed too-I used to be an avid re-re-re-reader, but now I just have too many new books to read, and my old friends have been sadly neglected. In a way, I'm glad not to have to worry about running out of books, but sometimes it is hard to keep up my enthusiasm for starting new books.

Tia Nevitt said...

A book has to be outstanding these days before I'll consider rereading it. I think it's a matter of getting a little . . . er . . . older. Time becomes more precious the older you get. Therefore, perhaps the thought of rereading has more to do with my age than blogging.

TK42ONE said...

How funny! I'm reading Outlander right now and am nearing the end. Yes, the early part was hard to push through until she went back in time, and now it's hard to get through because it's more romance and less sci-fi than I expected. Oh well. I'll survive.

Tia Nevitt said...

TK, it's actually marketed as a romance, rather than science fiction.

TK42ONE said...

Tia - Yes, I know that now. However I did NOT know that when I got the book. I read a blurb and saw the sci-fi part of it then checked it out when SM Stirling mentioned it in one of his books. It's still a decent read so far, just not quite what I was expecting.

Raven said...

I haven't been reviewing on a consistent basis long enough to know if it will change my reading habits, but I can say that over the past year or two my reading habits have changed for whatever reason.

I used to much prefer epic fantasy interspersed with occasional scifi. My feeling was I got enough of the real world in my real life, so why would I want to read about it? But now I find I want to read novels set in the real world, which is why I've moved on primarily to urban fantasy (and occasional scifi, still). My tastes have also expanded to include some mysteries and thrillers.

Why did this happen? I have no idea. I guess the real world has more appeal for me than I thought.