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?