May 23, 2014

Browsing for Books as a Book Blogger

Since I’ve now been blogging for just over two years, I’ve had some time to become adjusted to the changes in my reading habits blogging has caused. I now read more books and I read them faster in the span of a year. I read - and am aware of - far more new releases than I ever knew existed. I read each book a bit more critically now, knowing that I plan on recording my thoughts on it later. I buy a ridiculous amount of books and am hyperaware of book deals/sales.

None of these changes in my reading habits are bad. And, overall, I’m pretty happy with how blogging has impacted my communication skills and knowledge of the publishing industry.

If I did have one complaint, however, it would be this: I seem to have lost the ability to browse in bookstores and libraries.

That’s a rather dramatic statement, so allow me to refine my meaning.

Prior to blogging, recommendations from those whose reading tastes I trusted constituted the vast majority of the book I knew I wanted to read. Other books I read for classes. And still others I decided to read simply because a title or a cover caught my eye, I picked up the book, and I found the synopsis/first few pages to be interesting.Going to a bookstore or library was a cause for excitement because, for the most part, I had literally no idea what books would end up catching my eye. Navigating the shelves, checking out notable books on display - everything felt new and shiny and special to me.

Bookstores and libraries still elicit some level of excitement for me, but not to the same degree. Now many times I have some idea of specific books I’d like to find, or specific authors. Now I’m generally on a tighter schedule and don’t have an hour or more to just look around. Now I place library books on hold and often go to my library specifically to pick up those books or order a book through my local indie and stop by solely to pick it up, convincing myself that I have enough reading in my hands as it is without adding any more by browsing the shelves. And, of course, I cannot fail to mention that a good chunk of the books I read are digital.

But this post isn’t about the browsing for digital books (that’s for another discussion). Instead, I wanted to focus on my changing physical book browsing habits. They’re not all bad: I’m a more efficient browser, a more efficient reader, and acquire far fewer books that ultimately don’t mesh well with me as a reader.

Sometimes, though, I miss the spontaneity that came with browsing shelves with no preconceived expectations. The elation of discovering a new book or author destined to become a favorite. I miss introducing friends and family to unfamiliar, underrated books. It’s still possible to do that as a book blogger, of course, but it seems like it’s become a rarer occurrence for me.

From pulling books off of shelves I’ve discovered some of my favorite books: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce (yes, that was my introduction to Pierce’s works), A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. And many, many more.

I admit that there are also so many books that I would never have read in the past two years had I not been a blogger. Books that I’ve come to love, but that didn’t sound like they were worth the investment upon first glance.

And perhaps that knowledge makes the lessening of my spontaneity not as big of a problem as I sometimes feel like it is. I can work on making myself a better browser, after all - allotting more time to browse new-to-me shelves, authors, and books - but having a greater knowledge of the publishing industry, authors, and books makes it worth the changes, I think.

What about you? Have you become less of a book browser and on more of a mission when you visit libraries, bookstores, or other places with books?
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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. Siiigh. Yes! I was just thinking about this the other day. I miss browsing blindly so much!

  2. For me the biggest inhibition to browsing and spontaneity is because of the review pile that needs reading, so I don't feel like I can start a book I find at the library. However, I'm working on that, and am now feeling a compulsion to go browse the backshelves of the library's SFF section. While I know about most of the recent YA titles that would interest me, blogging doesn't expose me to as many adult titles as I'd like and certainly nothing older. Therefore, I think that I'd personally be able to recapture that experience of browsing without much outside knowledge by trying to find an older adult sci-fi or fantasy book to read. Now I just need to carve out the time... ;-)

  3. It's like we both are facing the same issue. Recently I have been going to the library to get the books that I had placed a hold. Visiting bookstores have been reduced a lot since I started blogging. All the books I read are mostly digital. The amount of ARC copies are so much that I don't have much time to think about buying a book. Even if I make a list of books I need buy, I simply dismiss the thought on seeing my ARC copies and books on my kindle. I really need to get to the bookstore now. (: This is a fantastic post, Amanda!!

  4. I still tend to browse for books. I will say that book blogging has decreased the amount of time I spend browsing in a bookstore because I am familiar with more books and I have a better idea of what I will like, but I rarely go to a bookstore knowing exactly what book I want to buy. I usually browse for some time and decide on one of the books I've been meaning to read. So, yes, the book is familiar to me, but I still spend some time browsing and contemplating which book I want more. Or which book I want to read soon. If I have a book I am set on buying and absolutely have to have, or a book I'm preordering, I go to amazon and just buy it there or Barnes and noble online. But yeah, I used to pick up books solely because of the cover or just after a glance but not so much anymore. And like you said, I definitely have a better idea of what books will be more for me from others' book reviews, which is amazing! Great post :D

  5. Yes! I totally understand. I KNOW of so many books now that if I'm going into a book store to buy something new, it's something I already know I will love or a book that others have strongly recommended. I don't really pick up books that are unknown to me anymore because I'm just so much more aware of what's out there. I guess that's a good thing because I'm starting to really reel in what I like and what i don't like but I do miss the opportunities to just browse and see what I find! I don't even really MAKE it to the library anymore between what I already own and ARCs.... I don't even have time for library books! :(

  6. I can definitely relate to some of this, Amanda. I remember when I used to remove a book from the shelf in a store or library and read the blurb without knowing anything about it beforehand. Now, mostly because of blogging and Goodreads and just generally being more aware of titles, I recognise nearly every book I see. There is definitely more of a sense of being on a mission when I enter a book store now - I always know exactly what I want - but at the same time, I quite like that. I find it quite satisfying knowing all the other books in a particular section... and will still probably spend a few minutes looking at them all to spot my favourites. ;) But yeah, that sense of discovering something on your own without any prior influence is certainly rare these days. Definitely interesting to think about though!

  7. I completely agree: the spontaneity of browsing for books is sorely missed. I can't go into my bookstore without using my Goodreads app to check reviews anymore. My brain won't allow it any other way. lol But you're also right, that because I follow reviewers and the books they like I've managed to find many I never would have read without their help either. So it's kind of a win win I suppose. :)


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