July 24, 2014

Shout or Secret?


Before I started blogging, I'd never heard the word "book pushing" and certainly wouldn't have done it. My friends and family have always known that I love to read, so it wasn't uncommon for them to ask me for book recommendations. While I was happy to offer suggestions, I rarely considered pushing the people in my life to read a book that I'd loved. 

I've written recently about how reading is an experience where your story merges with the one that you are reading - making it incredibly personal when you become invested in a book. I've read a few wonderful posts over the last few months about how difficult it can be to express how you felt about a book that you just enjoyed or simply liked... but what about those books that you loved?

As I've become more immersed in the world of blogging, I've realized that there's a little war that goes on inside me when I really love a book. I've looked for other readers to confess to this same feeling, but I haven't seen anyone articulate quite what goes through my mind when I find a book that works so perfectly for me.

Do I want to SHOUT about a book or keep it a SECRET?

I debate this question when I fall in love with a book. I don't always want to do one over the other. Sometimes, I'll immediately know which way I'm leaning. Other times, I want to do a little of both. Let me explain...

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical 
zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

Typically, I want to shout about books that I love when they feel refreshing and new - offering a different perspective on something, containing something that's been "missing" in a genre, representing the best of something that's become popular... And, most importantly, when I think it'll appeal to a range of readers.

As someone who reads a lot of adult fiction, I often lean toward shouting about an adult fiction book when I think will appeal to people who predominantly read YA. Furthermore, I'm more likely to shout when I think something deserves more attention or seems to have missed out on the hype machine.

If I think people may not hear about a book unless I shout about it, I try to make sure that I'm using my "voice" as effectively as possible. I'll begin suggesting it when asked for recommendations. I'll keep an eye out for opportunities to tell people about it. I'll write fangirl-y reviews or compose tweets meant to shine a light on the book that's stolen my heart. Sometimes, I just can't help myself!

A few examples of books I've "shouted" about: 
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent | Review
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord | Review
I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsey McCabe | Review

"And then there are [...] books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal."
John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

But oh, how I want to keep beloved books a secret. I know, of course, that they aren't really a secret. Other readers will discover the worlds and characters that I've fallen in love with - and in some cases, I only found the book because of other readers shouting about it. I know that a book will find its way into thousands of hearts and homes, but some books become so special to me that I don't want to discuss them with anyone.

Typically, I want to keep a book a secret when I feel personally connected to it - a theme speaks to something that I've learned (or am currently learning) in my own life, a character (or several of them) feels so real to me, or it reminds me that I'm not alone in the way that I feel, think or see the world. When my story has become intertwined with the one in a book, I cannot separate the two enough to shout about it.

The more emotionally invested I am in a book, the less I want to tell anyone else about it. Because, in a way, it feels a bit too much like exposing a part of my heart. I'm never far from the awareness that it's fiction, but I do like to have a little spot inside where my feelings for certain books are untouched by the opinions of others.

However, as a blogger, I desperately want the books that I love to find their way into the hands of the right readers. It's the reason I still push myself to write about the books that feel more "secret" - because there's the chance that the book will affect someone else the way it did me. 

So, instead of shouting to the masses, I will start quietly suggesting the book to my closest friends and the bloggers I know with similar taste. My hope is that it will create a snowball effect: lots of people talking at a normal volume can get really loud, really fast. It lets me keep whispering about it to certain people and, if it strikes a chord with other readers, many of them will take up the shouting for me.

A few examples of books I've wanted to keep "secret:"
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay | Review
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta | Review
Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer | Review
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review

Do you shout about the books you love or keep them a secret?
As a blogger, what do you do when you feel more secretive about a book?

11 comments:

  1. This is SUCH a good post! I totally totally totally agree with everything you said. I know exactly what you're talking about — there are definitely books that I want to SHOUT about, but there are also those books that affect me so deeply and are so special that I don't even want to breathe a word about them, because it almost feels like I'm breaking a piece of myself off to do it.

    Now that you've said that After I Do was one that you wanted to keep secret, I'm really impressed because you kind of shouted about that one haha. It makes me want to read it even more! I'm putting it on my TBR for August :)

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  2. I'm totally a shouter :-) I love your use of that term. I tend to shout about all the books I like - sometimes I'm pretty incoherent but my enthusiasm still shine through :-)

    Tanya Patrice
    Girlxoxo.com

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  3. At first, I didn't think I had these type of conflicting feelings about books, but thinking about it more, I know I subconsciously do sometimes. I think I find it hard to write reviews about books I really, really love because I'm afraid other people won't love them as much as I do. I KNOW intellectually that it's impossible for everyone to love a book in the same way (nor should they), but I guess a little selfish part of me wants to keep some of those ones to myself rather than open things up to contradicting and possibly *gasp* negative reactions to that same book (bad blogger, I know!). I 100% believe in every person having a right to their own opinion about a book and 99.9% of the time I am up for open dialogue and healthy debate, but I do get a little irrational about some of those *holy grail* books on occasion.

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  4. I really like to shout it out when I love a book; I want that everyone shares the same experience with the book. At the same time, I'm afraid they won't like it (because let's face it, every book gets negative reviews), because it's sometimes hard when other people don't love it as much as you do.

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  5. I go through this ALL THE TIME. I'm very protective of stories/characters that resonate in a deeply personal way. I also have this weird thing where if too many people know about something, it becomes overshared, overhyped, too commercial, and it loses everything that made it feel sacred. (For me, this is what happened with TFiOS... just thinking about it now makes me feel like I'm participating in some sort of marketing/media hype.)

    Plus, I often find it difficult to share those kinds of books with other people, precisely because they strike a very particular chord in me, and I sometimes expect/want it to strike that same chord with others, which is unrealistic and unlikely.

    I'm more inclined to share books that I love that have made me look at the world in a new way (e.g. Carol Rifka Brunt's "Tell the Wolves I'm Home"). I find that I have a greater tendency to recommend compelling and/or moving stories that are not too personal.

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  6. I've been thinking about this a lot recently! You've captured so wonderfully how I feel about the books I absolutely adore and love and can reread over and over again. Sometimes, I feel like shouting out (publicly and often) about titles that I feel could use a little more attention! (This has happened with Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass before, as well as Jodi Meadows' Incarnate series & Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly series. I also talk up Gemma Burgess' Brooklyn Girls series and Emery Lord's Open Road Summer fair bit!) It's fun to express my flails and feels over these titles, especially because I always want to encourage others to discover them too. I like the conversation and friendships that "shouting" has brought into my life, and I feel warm and fuzzy when I learn of more people loving a book or series as much as I did.

    But I've also felt the opposite, and wanted to keep books to myself, because they feel like treasures meant just for me. I agree with what you said about emotional connection to a title changing the way I express my immense love and gratitude for a book or series! I certainly feel that way about Taylor Jenkins Reid's After I Do (and I can't wait to read Forever Interrupted), Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series (which are seriously precious to me for how well I connect to them), Gayle Forman's Just One Day series, Jessi Kirby's Golden and Trish Doller's Where the Stars Still Shine. I think it's just nice to have an experience with books that's purely mine, and I just hold on to that as long as I can possibly manage to.

    Wonderful post, my friend. I'm in awe, as always, at your ability to perfectly express a sentiment like this.

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  7. First of all, I love that quote from John Green! And how you've incorporated it into your discussion post here! There's definitely some truth to that for sure. I feel like I'm not much of a shouter personally, so when I read something I love I may recommend it to some others, but I definitely don't go all-out in promoting it because that's just not me.
    And if I have a strong emotional connection to something, I definitely don't promote it as much. Partially, I think, because I wonder how good the book really is, or if I'm simply thinking it's good because I relate to it so well.
    Despite me not having quite the same methods to show my love of books, I really do get where you're coming from and the dilemma that could be present. In a way, it's really neat how even the books we love can elicit such diverse reactions from us. :)

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  8. I've been on both sides of this and I know the exact moment the switch happened: the day I became a bookseller. Back in high school/college, my favorites were MINE and mine alone. Maybe - maybe - if you were a good friend I'd let you in on my secret, but other than that, I enjoyed those worlds and characters on my own.

    Once I became a bookseller, however, I realized my livelihood depended on people purchasing those stories I had once kept so guarded! I love shouting about my favorites, practically forcing those books into the hands of anyone (un)lucky enough to be near me. This goes double for my under-the-radar reads/ones that haven't received much buzz.

    I'm still a bit hesitant to lend out my personal copies (I once let a teacher borrow a book on her beach trip and it had apparently gone for a swim at some point..), but I love singing their praises! There are some books that affected me so much that it physically hurts knowing there are people not reading them. Pioneer Girl, Steal the North, I Am Pilgrim.. THESE are what books are all about.

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  9. I get what you mean exactly. I'm a reading pusher more than a specific book pusher, I just think everyone should read more. There are some books I shout about endlessly, and others that are quite personal, either because they resonate with me and my experiences or because the emotions I connect with them are strong and almost embarrassing I guess, that I don't want the world to know about it, it's my little secret...R x

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  10. Wonderful post, and I love how you expressed your feelings! I feel this way sometimes, when a book is held close to my heart because it truly speaks to me, or I relate so well to it. Sometimes I'll "shout" about it and try to explain why I loved it so very much. Then there are the times when I hold off on that review as long as I can because I'm afraid that I can't find the words to do it justice or express myself in the best way that I can. I do hold books, characters, and certain quotes from the books I read close to my heart and feel that they are "mine" but normally I eventually share the book on my blog just in case it gets the chance to speak to another reader in a way that it did or didn't to me.

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  11. Ugh, unfortunately I am SUPER late posting this comment but I have been thinking about this since you posted. I feel the same way - alternatively torn between shouting about books and keeping them secret - but have only really noticed that since I started blogging. Before I only shared recommendations in person with my sister, mom, and a few close reader friends. If I wanted to keep a book a secret I just wouldn't talk about it.

    Anyway, as a regular reader of your blog I wanted to comment on this. I have read all the reviews you categorized. Burial Rites and I Shall Be Near to You I remember feeling particularly that you were "shouting" your love for these books. It felt as though you were trying to pass me a physical copy in the next best possible way.

    As for your "secret" favourites... The Sea of Tranquility, Nowhere But Home, and After I Do I remember well, too. With these your writing was more subdued. But I could definitely tell you loved them! Reading these reviews I remember thinking that it was clear you loved these books and they were precious to you, even though you weren't as loudly enthusiastic. It's hard to explain what I mean, but I guess even though you didn't push them as much I think it was still obvious those "secret" ones were favourites.

    Anyway, great post, and very interesting food for thought!

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