October 9, 2014

Books, Blogging & Back in the Day


I started blogging at the very end of 2011, and I sometimes can't believe that I've been doing this for almost three years. I had several blogs prior to creating So Obsessed With, but I knew things were going to be different when I joined the book community. For the first time, I was talking about something I was passionate about - and finding other people who felt the same way.

When I was cataloging my books recently (with this awesome tool!), it was impossible for me to ignore how blogging has impacted my reading habits. From price tags left on older books to owning multiple copies of the same book, reading has become a bigger part of my life than I ever would have imagined. For better or for worse, here are some of those changes!

Blogging changed how I _____________.

DISCOVER books.
Prior to blogging, I:

found books by browsing in the store.
I think book discovery is one of the areas that has been most impacted by blogging. When I wanted to find something to read, I used to just browse around the bookstore. I would pull books off the shelf, read the summary and then sit down with a stack. I'd read a chapter or two and decide what I wanted to buy. I didn't look at ratings online or ask for recommendations. If it sounded good, I bought it.

Obviously, I wasn't reading review books. Now, I frequently discover new books or new-to-me authors through NetGalley or by browsing a publisher's catalog on Edelweiss. This is probably the one thing that I feel the most divided on! I love that I'm finding more books that I ever did pre-blogging, but I don't like that my reading has shifted to new releases and review copies. I want to focus more from the backlist and my TBR!

paid no attention to a book's publisher.
Let's be honest, I don't even think I could name a single publisher before I started blogging. Forget about knowing that a publisher had different imprints... or even being able to identify which publishers I liked the most. I now track all of that information in a spreadsheet, and I'm actually glad that blogging made me more aware of this aspect of reading. While it doesn't inform my reading choices, it does help me when I'm on the fence!

didn't read from as many sections of the bookstore.
I am now able to find way more books than I ever did just browsing in the store. I mean, think about it: how often do I go to the store looking for something that I'm then unable to find? ALL THE TIME. While I miss the thrill of randomly picking a book and often wish I didn't rely so much on ratings, I'm so thankful that blogging has opened me up my reading horizons! I didn't realize how limited my reading choices used to be!

I have always been an eclectic reader, but I think that blogging has only made that more true. I used to pretty much avoid fantasy - and now it's one of my favorite genres! I didn't know that Young Adult existed as a category. My taste was still all over the place, but I didn't know that it was. And I wasn't able to identify what I gravitated toward, like character-driven stories, or able to put into words what I liked/disliked about a book.

PURCHASE books.
Prior to blogging, I:

had no idea when a book would release. 
Prior to blogging, I had no idea when a book was going to be released. In fact, I don't think I even knew that new books were released on Tuesdays. Honestly, I had never even pre-ordered a book! I don't think I even knew that was a thing. Now, of course, I pre-order books all the time.

I love this change in my reading habits! Although I hate knowing that I might have to wait another year for an anticipated book, I do love that I'm so much more aware of what I want to read and when it comes out. There's something really fun about counting down the days until a book releases or eagerly awaiting the delivery of a book you ordered months before.

just bought a book when I needed something to read.
We've reached one of the worst habits that I've acquired from blogging. Because I'm discovering more books, I've started buying them all the time! While I've always had some unread books, my concept of a TBR pile was totally different than it is now. Back then, I just bought a book when I needed something to read.

I didn't read nearly as much as I do now (though I still loved to read and frequently went to the bookstore)... and I definitely wasn't stockpiling books at the rate I am now. I would often asks for books for Christmas or my birthday, but they would almost always be read before the next holiday rolled around. Now? Not so much.

grabbed any copy - regardless of condition, cover, or format.
This is something that I noticed when I was cataloging my books. First, I realized that I frequently left price tag stickers on the back of my books. These days I remove those the second I get home. I don't want anything messing up those covers!

I also didn't pay much attention to the condition of a book when I bought it. If there were multiple copies at the store, I'd just grab whatever was on the top of the stack. Now I've turned into a crazy person - trying to find the book in the best condition and with the fewest flaws. And I definitely never inspected a book that I'd ordered online to see if I needed to return it for "damage."

I bought whatever format was available. I didn't seek out hardcovers (like I do now) or even realize that I could purchase e-books. In fact, I didn't even know that some books had a different cover for paperback versus hardcover - or even possibly an international edition. Heck, I don't think I realized that there were entirely different books being published around the world that I didn't have access to here in the US. I wasn't trying to match covers or be consistent with format or any of that nonsense that I worry about now... And I DEFINITELY didn't own multiple copies and formats of the same book (aside from Pride and Prejudice, of course).

INTERACT WITH books.
Prior to blogging, I:

wrote in books, bent the spine and folded down pages.
Another thing I noticed while going through my bookshelves? I used to interact with books more while I read them. I could write on the pages, highlight my favorite quotes, bend back the spine and fold down the pages. Now I try to keep my books practically pristine! I loved going through my older books and seeing what jumped out at me at that point in time.

Looking through the books that I marked in was like seeing a snapshot from the past. My reaction to the book was frozen at that moment in time - recorded for me to experience all over again years later. Why don't I do this more often for my favorites?!  Folded pages and bent spines showed how much I loved a book... It was like you could tell they belonged in my library permanently and that I'd frantically poured over those pages.

took longer to read a book.
The speed at which I'm able to read hasn't changed very much. I've always been a fast reader! But I used to spend more time with a book. I didn't hurry through, and I definitely wasn't thinking about what I was going to read next. Because my TBR was almost nonexistent, I savored what I was reading! The downside now is that I'm not always giving a book the attention it probably deserves. On the upside, I read WAY more than I did before I blogged. The number of books I read per year has skyrocketed. So, this feels like a win overall.

rarely talked about a book after I finished it.
When I loved a book, I'd sometimes tell my friends about it. But not that often! Only a few of my friends enjoyed reading... and even then it wasn't that cool to be too into books. While I didn't care too much about what was cool, I kept my book love mostly to myself!

And when I finished reading a book, that was it. I didn't mull it over, write about it, discuss it.  I read it and then moved on to the next book. This is something that I love about blogging. Joining the bookish community and being able to have fangirl-y conversations is one of my favorite things in the entire world! I had no idea that I could find people all around the world who would love books the way that I do AND become some of my best friends in real life, too.

How has blogging changed the way you read?
What do you miss about those pre-blogging days?
And what do you love about the way you read now?

10 comments:

  1. Did you just invade mind? I totally feel the same way! Is it freaky that I agree with everything you just said except for the hardcover part (I'm still more of a paperback and eBook kind of girl, hardcovers are more expensive)?

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  2. My reading habits have changed quite a bit this year, but I don't think blogging had a lot to do with it. In previous years I was very methodical about my reading and I focused a lot on the numbers (how many challenges I did, number of books I read in a year etc). I got really burned out on that and earlier this year I deleted my entire TBR list and Goodreads account, dropped out of challenges, and stopped keeping track of how many books I was reading.

    Now I'm a total mood reader and chose which books I read by browsing through the shelves at my local library :) Love this way and don't know that I'll ever go back! My blog has just been along for the ride as I've made the switch lol.

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  3. I became so friggin critical. Haha. And now I have to be prepared to defend my opinions as to whether why I liked/disliked this book. I miss the "I-can-read-this-book-tomorrow-anyway" feel. Now I have to discipline myself to read at a certain time to be able to post in time for a book tour or an event.

    BUT, I love that I now have access to different genres of books and my appreciation of them grew overtime. I love that I can see why this book isn't that good but somehow manages to find the good parts as well. I enjoyed reading your journey through book blogging Hannah, great article :)

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  4. Blogging has definitely changed how I read and how often, how I acquire books, and lots of other things. Some good, some bad. I do kind of miss the carefree no-pressure way that reading was before blogging hehe.

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  5. You and I have both discovered a lot of things we've had in common over the past few months, but this post just highlights even more ways you and I are similar! Just about every single thing you've mentioned in this post is also how blogging about books has changed my life, and it's kind of eerie that we've had such similar thoughts. But only in the best way, obviously!

    I often think about two of the things on your list: how I choose what books to buy, and how often I buy books. I definitely buy books way more often than I used to. Whereas it used to be the type of thing where I'd finish everything I had left unread, I've started buying more and more books (and the TBR pile has grown at an alarming rate!). And these days, I often buy books I've already read and loved, or buy books based on recommendations. I became really conscious of that behavior months ago, and have started being more deliberate in the bookstore, taking my time to check out books I might not have heard of and seeing if I want to read them or not. It remains to be seen how that will impact my book buying!

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  6. Great Post Hannah!
    I totally agree with everything you mentioned! I wish I could use that book logging tool but I'm a PC (hopefully for my bday I'll get a Mac, lol).
    One of the downfalls you mentioned, not taking enough time with the books you read, I miss that the most. Otherwise, I am much happier with my reading habits now :)

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  7. It's extraordinary how many of these are true for myself as well Hannah!

    I definitely found my books solely from just browsing the bookstore. I would spend HOURS there, literally. If my boyfriend and I were at the mall he would dread me saying that I wanted to go to the bookstore beause he knew that a large bulk of time would be lost that day for him :P I would just pull books off the shelf and read the back, put back or put it in my cart... the whole process seems so foreign to me now because I hardly do it anymore :( I didn't pay attention to the publisher either, I think I would only have been able to say that Harlequin was one but even then I'm not sure, I thought Harlequin romance was a type of series haha.

    The only books I can remember knowing when they were releasing were the Harry Potter books and Tori Spelling's books. And the only way i knew that HP was releasing because they would be in the NEWSPAPER haha. That's how long ago that was! I liked Tori Spelling's books so much that I googled every so often to check when she was having a new one come out but those are the only two instances that I did know haha.

    I also bought any copy, didn't matter... although I did want it to look nice with the dust jacket and such but whether it was hardcover or paperback did not matter to me. My shelves at my parents must look disasterous haha.

    I love this post! It made me think about so many of these things that I didn't really pay much attention to but blogging as definitely changed the way I read. I also read a ton more now... pre blogging Lauren is impressed with the amount of books read in recent years ;)

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  8. I've only just started my blog, but I'm already seeing my habits change. I'm a little sad the catalog program isn't available for PC because it looks awesome. On the bright side though, I hadn't heard of Edelweiss before here and ran to sign up. I think I might get lost there for a while.

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  9. There's so much of this that I feel is exactly the same with me! I used to only buy 1, sometimes 2 ,books at a time and wouldn't buy more till their were read, so never had a tbr pile. I also decided on books by browsing. There were a few authors I'd keep reading, but there were never specific book I HAD to have at least not that I can remember. Of course never received review books, nor thought about publishers. Overall I do think my reading habbits have changed for the better, but there's definitely things about how I used to read that I kind of miss.

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  10. So true!! Before blogging I didn't know how much people loved my writing. I didn't know anything about publishing. Now I'm a self published author. Thank you for sharing this awesome post! And congrats on blogging for three years!

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