Monday, July 5, 2010

ON BOOKS ~ Under Pressure...

Image courtesy ckaroli via Flickr

I don't participate in reading challenges. And I don't accept ARC's to review. This is because I do not want to have my reading schedule dictated to me by outside sources. I want to read what I want to read when I want to read it. But I have still found other ways to apply unwanted pressure to my reading.

Book groups. Read-alongs. These are my weaknesses. As with blogging, I am happiest in my reading when I have someone else to talk to about it and share the process. I belong to a few book clubs on Goodreads and join in with the selected readings if they are on my To Read list already. I also nominate books from my own To Read list for group discussions. This seemed like a good way to kill two birds with one stone. Read something I wanted to get to anyway and have lots of other people to talk to about the experience. However, I have found that if you nominate titles often enough, eventually a percentage of them are going to be selected. This means that not only do I need to follow-through and read the book by the discussion date, but I have to lead the discussion. That puts pressure on my free wheeling reading ways. Self inflicted.

But I am a social reader. I can't resist the opportunity to read and discuss with others. When my book groups aren't reading something I care about, I turn to the book blogging community for other opportunities. If I see that a book blogger has plans to read something that looks interesting to me, I will offer to get a hold of a copy myself and read it with them. It is an addiction. I don't have time to read all of these books with all of these people - yet I keep promising to do so. And I am always thrilled with the discussions - but it does force me to read as promised so as not to let another blogger down - especially when it was all my idea.

It takes me about 2 weeks to read most standard length books. And I have a hard time reading more than one at a time. So this means I can fit in 25 - 30 books a year tops. I'm on my 12th of this year and I'm beginning to feel burnt out. I've been reading at the same pace as always, but the pressure surrounding the selections and the schedule is making it feel like I should be rushing through to get to the next one rather than just enjoying whatever it is that I've chosen to read.

  • I read The Lovely Bones with Andy in order to participate in a "Reading Together" post hosted by Tami.

  • At my suggestion, I read The Housekeeper & The Professor with Heather and exchanged responses to the discussion questions in the back of the book on Goodreads.

  • I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for a discussion with one of my Goodreads book groups.

  • I read War & Peace with Stacy at my suggestion to motivate her to accomplish a goal and we posted our summaries of the story as we read together.

  • I read two books on how to conduct interviews as part of my research on a post idea about helping book bloggers conduct author interviews.

  • I read Brave New World for another Goodreads book group discussion.

  • I read Light In August with a non-blogger friend on Goodreads and exchanged messages during our progress about our ideas.

  • I'm currently reading Let Us Now Praise Famous Men to lead a discussion for another Goodreads book group.

  • I've made plans with Margot to read A Truth Worth Tellin' at my suggestion since we both won copies of the book from a recent giveaway.

  • And I tried but couldn't get my timing right to read Their Eyes Were Watching God with DS who recently shared her thoughts via post.

  • That means that I have only read 3 books this year for me. Just because I was in the mood, not because I made a commitment to do so. I didn't have anyone to talk to them about, but I didn't have to read within a schedule either. It is a trade-off that I need to make more often and balance the solo reads with the discussion reads. Talking with others about books enhances the world of reading and I wouldn't have it any other way. But I need time for me too. I don't know how all of you reviewers handle it.

    11 comments: said...

    It is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the books that publishers, PR tour people, and authors throw at you. Luckily, I read fast and am getting really good about what books I will say yes too.

    I did screw up with one this week though. I don't know what I was thinking when I said that I would review a book on the strategy of the US Civil War. While I enjoy reading about the war in general terms, I can't stand military history!

    I have a system, read one that I am required to review, read one that I want, read one that I am required to see the pattern.

    Sandy Nawrot said...

    I'll tell you how I handle it. About May or June, I began to turn down all review copies. I have challenges (alot of them!!!) and I realized I was failing. It is alot of pressure that we put on ourselves, and I do long to just read whatever the hell I want. But I do read more than one at a time, and can squeeze a number of them in a year, so generally I get to most of them.

    Little Ms Blogger said...

    I have a stack of books that I am continuously adding to. I read slowly and only for me. I'm in no book clubs as I understand most talk about other things and I can do that in other social settings. Besides, I have so many books I want to read, I don't want to read a book I have no desire to read (my sister's book club read one of the Twilight series books and I'm 44).

    My philosophy is this: when something you love is causing you stress, it's no longer a pleasure, but has become a job.

    Take a break from reading groups and just read a couple of books for you. You need to reconnect with the joy of reading.

    Kaye said...

    Somedays it feels like a job! I think we do put pressure on ourselves, sometimes needlessly. I loved your posts with Stacy on War and Peace! Have a good week and try to relax. Easier said than done, I know.

    LJ said...

    I toy with the idea of joining a book club, but I don't want to be told what to read and when. When it comes to my choice of reading I generally chose on whim and emotion. Rarely does that fit into the confines of a bookclub. Since Christmas I believe I have consumed some 30 something books. Some fluff, some substance - but all enjoyable - because they were of my choosing and speed.

    Kathleen said...

    I don't do any reading challenges. The minute I have to read a book I don't want to read it anymore. Lately I have accepted a few ARCs. As long as I only have one at a time I am okay with it. I'm with you, I want to read what I want, when I want to. And I love my book club and some of the online book discussions and read a longs I have participated in. It's all about balance and I rarely find it!

    Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

    With me it's all about balance, priorities, and being able to say no. All of that works fine if everything in life is going smoothly. When problems and other demands interfere that's when everything gets out of whack. When that happens, I only read what suits me and will help me escape the stress.

    On the other hand, I need a little pressure (like challenges) to push me to do the things I deep down want to do but might not normally do. Same thing with the book club I belong to. I'd never have read some really good books if it wasn't for their choices.

    I'm really looking forward to reading together. Should be lots of fun.

    stacybuckeye said...

    Thank you so much for reading War & Peach with me. You kept me going :)

    I agree with Margot that I need a little push and challenges and an occasional book for review help me stretch my reading a bit. Then I don't fall into a reading rut. But too many challenges (like all the ones I signed up for before I knew I was going to get knocked up) and it can add stress.

    As for accepting review books, I am much pickier now. I have to be pretty sure I am going to like the book, but that's still no guarantee.

    Forgetfulone said...

    The only book on your list that I have read is The Lovely Bones, which I read just for "fun." Didn't think it was that great, though, and haven't watched the movie yet, but I will.

    I love to read. I also use Goodreads, and I like to write reviews for what I read, not that anyone reads them unless I post them to my blog, but I like to write my opinions down.

    I belonged to an online reading group, but it's faded out. I tried to get it going again, to no avail.

    I belong to a book group with some friends, and we are meeting tomorrow to discuss The Guardian. I was supposed to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last month, but I was just too busy, and there was a long wait at the library.

    Anyway, wanted you to know I enjoyed this post.

    jehara said...

    I don't usually accept review copies because I don't like the pressure. I do enjoy reading challenges because I find it to be a community builder and I like that it gets me out of my reading comfort zone. I don't feel pressured to actually finish any of them, though.
    And I adore book clubs. My friend Autumn and I have a thing that we started last summer where we take turns picking books to read together and then we plan a phone date to discuss what we read. It's great because there is no time limit.
    Most of what I read though is just for me.

    Jenny Girl said...

    You know, I'm not quite sure either! Most of the books I read I consider for me. I only accept review books I am interested in, and many a book catches my eye. However I will admit, that sometimes my eyes are bigger than my reading habit and sometimes I get a little behind. Oh well, at least I am honest!

    Here's hoping that you get some "me" reading time in. Have a good week :)