Something I noticed about myself the other day when commenting on a fellow book blogger’s review of a book I’d read almost two years ago, was just how much I’ve changed as a reader and reviewer. I enjoyed their review and was curious as to what I wrote in my own review so long ago and what I found surprised me.
I’ve gotten tougher, more critical, and less easily pleased.
Is this a good thing? I suppose it depends.
Before I started this blog I would read books, but it was on the side. My days were taken up by school, activities, work, and I would read or re-read books when I could find the time. I loved reading but I only got new books when my parents or a friend could drive me to a bookstore (about 30 minutes away + traffic). And whenever I would get the chance to browse a bookstore I’d spend ages wandering the shelves, reading back covers, gazing at cover art, and I would choose a book (sometimes even two!) that really sparked with me. I didn’t have Goodreads, I didn’t have Twitter, I didn’t have Instagram, I didn’t have publishers/authors/reviewers constantly bombarding me with recommendations. It was just me and a long row of options in a shop.
I’m not sure I ever read a book that I didn’t fall in love with in those days.
It was so easy for me to fall into the story, befriend the characters, and drift lost in fictional worlds. I read almost anything and I loved pretty much everything.
But then I finished my schooling, I found myself with more free time plus a bookshop that was only 15 minutes away not to mention the glorious invention of Amazon Prime and their sweet discounts for books. So I started reading a bit more and more and eventually began this blog so I could have someone or at least someplace to share my bubbling thoughts on these books.
Eventually I was posting regularly, receiving ARCs, and expanding my blog’s reach. I don’t think I’ve ever read so much as I have since starting this blog. Sometimes I’m so swamped with books my eyes feel like they’re withering away and I’ll go utterly blind (my eyesight is horrendous so this isn’t a totally irrational fear…).
But back to my original point, what I noticed was that with the increase in the quantity of books I was reading came an increase in my scrutiny of those books. When I go back and read some of my earlier posts I cringe and shake my head. Not only are they not as well written or informative (or as long lol) but I’m always so nice! I mean I read some of my reviews that I simply had to shake my head at because I remember specifically not liking a book all that much and yet I wrote a very kind review full of apologies that I didn’t love it as if I had somehow failed the author! What am I apologizing for??
Okay, I’m still a pretty nice reader/reviewer, but I’m much less likely to let issues slide nowadays. There are some books that I reviewed back then that I know had some definite critiques that I simply left out or glossed over. I was giving out 4 and 5 stars like candy at a parade! Just tossing it to anyone who passed by!
Now I still am not the type of person who harps on the negatives in a book (unless it seriously bothers me) but I am careful to mention them in the endeavor to give a well-rounded review that is helpful and informative so that those who are interested can get a good (but spoiler-free) idea of the book and decide if it’s something they’d like to spend their hard-earned money on.
At least I hope my reviews are getting better! (I think so?)
Furthermore I’ve grown more confident in my own opinions. I no longer feel compelled to like a book simply because everyone else does (and I write less apologies for it), and I don’t feel the need to cover up my love for a book that others found ho-hum or lacking. I like what I like and as simple as that sounds it’s a confidence that I’ve had to really work on and a struggle I wasn’t even aware of until recently.
Anyway, a part of me cringes to know that people might search for a book review on my site and read a review I wrote so long ago especially when I very well might write it differently if I were to revise it today (for a start I’d take those rose-colored glasses off that I always seemed to read with back then). If I had the time I’d probably go back and revise them all but a) I don’t really have the time and b) that almost seems a bit deceptive somehow as if by revising my old posts (at least revise in the sense of changing my overall opinion presented in it) I’m negating the genuine feelings I had at the time.
Oh I definitely want to slowly go back and revise old posts just to make them better (improve the writing and content) but I’m not sure if my ratings will change if only because those stars reflect how I felt upon reading that final page. Sometimes I write lots of nice words but my heart doesn’t give the book 5 stars, or maybe the book ignited a lot of rants but I can’t stop thinking about it and thus give it more stars than I otherwise might have. I don’t know. My star ratings aren’t some sort of equation or computerized formula, they’re just a very general reflection of how I overall feel/felt about a book.
I’m still a pretty nice reviewer (for better or for worse) but it just surprised me how my leniency has toughened up.
Do I wish I was still that starry-eyed girl who loved anything she plucked off the shelves? Yeah I do sometimes, because it was a blissful thing to somehow not be disappointed by any paper adventure tucked between title and acknowledgments. But overall I’m rather pleased that I’ve been developing my critical eye (I have much further to go though I’m sure) because not only does it make my reviews better but as an aspiring author it helps make my own writing stronger. I’ve been slowly learning how to notice flaws and mistakes, not to bash them but to learn from them. A book might contain some cliches or faults but that doesn’t make the book terrible, it just presents something to be aware of.
Anyway, this is my rambling random post for today and I hope I didn’t bore you. It’s just something that I’ve come to notice about myself and thought it a somewhat interesting revelation. I’m not usually one big on taking the time to self-reflect so when I do I always find myself mildly surprised.
Do you have a book blog? How has it evolved for you?