For those of you who don’t know, 52 Letters turned one last week! After a year of reading and reviewing books, I thought I’d take a day and reflect on how being a book reviewer has changed me as a reader–for the better, and for the worse.
It’s made me a more aware reader.
By “aware” I mean that I’m paying more attention to the mechanics of stories: plot, character development, writing style, pacing. These are things I understood but never really though of while I was reading before I started reviewing. Now, when I read a book, I’m already thinking through what I’ll say in the review, which means I’m paying attention to these aspects.
This is a good thing when the book is good. I get to sit back in awe of the author’s writing ability, I get to really understand what about the book makes it exceptional.
Unfortunately, it also makes me aware of when a book is bad. This can make it a lot harder to finish reading a book, or to feel motivated to use spare time to read more of it.
Possibly, it’s made me a more self-conscious reader.
I don’t want to say that YES–I AM SELF-CONSCIOUS ABOUT THE BOOKS I READ, now that I know other people will know I’m reading them. I think I still have enough self-confidence to read the books I want to read, and then to share them with the blogging community.
However, before I was a book blogger, I unabashedly indulged my cravings for trashy, plot-less YA romances–especially those of the paranormal kind. I knew they weren’t well written, but I enjoyed them. Nowadays, I feel like I have to find something about the books I read that quantifies why they were good (once again, plot/characters/writing ability), and I feel weird saying that what I liked about a book had very little to do with complexities such as those. On the one hand, since I’m becoming more aware of what I’m reading anyway, I know I wouldn’t enjoy those books as much if I went back to them, but I also know that there is a part of me that just doesn’t want to put it into print.
I’m more aware of new books.
I don’t have a Goodreads account, never have, don’t really plan to. I’ve always been more of a “walk into a bookstore and stare at the shelves until I see something I like” reader. As a result, I never really paid attention to whether a book was new or not, whether there was hype surrounding it or not. Since joining the book blogger community, I’ve been exposed to the hype, and I can tell which books are new and making waves based on other people’s reviews.
It’s slightly overwhelming, the idea of actually keeping up with all the new books that come out. I still like reading books based more on if they strike my fancy than if I’ve seen other people rave about them. Still, I like that I have this new awareness, and I like that now when I walk into a bookstore, I can see books and go “oh, I know you” simply because other people reviewed their ARCs.
It’s made me a more diverse reader.
Recently, I’ve been pushing myself to stray outside of my fantasy/contemporary YA comfort zone. Reading challenges helped with this a lot–which I never would have learned about if I hadn’t started this blog. But beyond simply trying to meet a quota, being a book blogger has made me want to be a more rounded reader. I’m actually reading nonfiction (something I never would have believed if you told me that a year ago) and revisiting middle grade books. Seeing books that other people review, I’m exposed to books that I never would have looked at in a bookstore, which pushes me to go out and read them.
Most of all, it keeps me reading.
I’m in high school, and if I’m being honest with myself, I know that I probably would have put reading on a (far) back burner if I didn’t have this blog. Needing to have reviews to post keeps me reading, and I’m glad that I have a kick-in-the-pants to actually keep me reading. I love reading, but it’s easier to come home from school and watch Netflix than pick up another book. 52 Letters reminds me of what I like to do–discover new worlds and characters and then fangirl over them–and keeps me doing it. Of all the ways that being a book reviewer has affected my life, this one is the most important for me.