Tuesday, December 25, 2012

As 2013 Fast Approaches

This is the time of year when most folks pause for a moment to contemplate the year just completed and  the new one fast approaching.  Sadly, if what I recall is correct, it is also the time of year during which more people are overwhelmed by despair and loneliness than at any other time of year.  With all the stress on family, happiness, and spending associated with the whole holiday season, it is easy enough to understand why this happens.

Too a much less tragic degree, this year I am even seeing it happen in the book blogging community we all share.  In the last week, I've seen notices from three book-bloggers that they are shutting things down for good - after periods of six, three, and seven years of sharing their love of books with the rest of us.  Two of them even shut down comments so that no one could try to talk them out of quitting or even say goodbye, a decision I find kind of sad.

Believe me, guys, I understand why you're doing it.  As much as we love what we do with our blogging, it does have a way of taking over one's life.  I sometimes find myself scheduling the rest of my week around the time I need to spend on my blog posts and reviews.  Even though all the stress is self-induced, stress by any other name is still stress.  I get it.  I doubt there is a book blogger out there that has not, at one time or another, considered shutting things down.  I know that I have...more than once.  But I keep coming back, and Book Chase turns six years old on January 20, 2013.

I do think I'm going to have to take a slightly different approach, though, if I'm going to get the most out of blogging next year.  At least for a while, I'm going to be more selective than ever (and I was already pretty damned selective) about the books I take on for reviews.  I'm the kind of guy who reads every word of a book I review - and I strive to review every book I receive.  Don't get me wrong, I love doing it, and my main goal has always been to spread the word about as many books as possible.  I hate, absolutely hate, the thought of good books just slipping through the cracks of a world dominated by the kind of trash that dominates today's bestseller lists.

But it all takes time - and I want to spend some of that time re-reading some of my old favorites, along with new work from authors I love most.  My taste has definitely changed (I like to think it has grown) over the years, and I need, if I am going to stay enthusiastic about my reading, to concentrate on  the kind of reading that still excites me.  Too, I've promised myself for a long time that I was going to go back and read some of my favorite series all over again, one-by-one.  I'm starting on one of those series tonight, in fact: James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux books.  There are something like 19 in the series, and my first edition copy of book one, The Neon Rain sits on my desk right now, just waiting for me.

So, here's to a fresh start in 2013.  Hang in with me if you can.  There are likely to be fewer new books mentioned next year, but I really want to share with you the books that I love, and have loved most for a long, long time.  Thanks for being here.

16 comments:

  1. I have a long list of books to read, much of it based on your recommendations for the past years. So much good stuff, thanks to you!

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  2. Thanks, Gold Digger. It's comments like yours that make it all feel so worth while. I love the idea that a book is getting read a few extra times because of what I've posted here about it.

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  3. I would miss you if you hung up your blogging hat.

    But, I have considered it, more than once. In the end, I changed my overall approach, like you're doing, and kept going. Almost no ARC's now, at all. I read what I want to, very few new titles, and while I still post something about everything I read, I make no attempt to write formal reviews--I just say what I want to say.

    I know that I get fewer readers because of this, but I'm fine with that. At the end of the day, and the end of the year, I'm still here.

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  4. The stress aspect is one of the reasons why I don't really go out of my way to get ARCs and haven't followed up on authors' and publishers' offers of free review copies. As it is, I feel guilty about all the ARCs I picked up at conferences that I didn't get around to reading prior to their release dates. I figure, my TBR pile is large enough that it gives me plenty to choose from to read and review, so I'll stick that and library checkouts as much as possible. I still fret about not reviewing as much as I'd like, but it's better than having ARC release dates looming over my head.

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  5. James, thanks for the kind words, Appreciated.

    I do definitely need to cut back on ARCs. I'm going to have read between 85 and 90 of them this year, leaving only 40 or so books from my own shelves. I don't think I'll ever completely quit accepting them because I have discovered some really good books that way that I would have otherwise missed for sure. But I have to cut back some because the self-applied stress is just not worth it. I'm buried in emails all the time, and can't even keep up with responding to all of those much less the books on offer.

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  6. Library Girl, I still get excited about ARCs because of the promise of discovering something completely new that way. But it does become an overwhelming thing after a while, so I need to figure out a modified plan for myself. Maybe, making sure that I read one non-ARC for every ARC I read. We'll see how that works out in the real world. :-)

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  7. Oh, Sam! Did I forget to tell you? You're not allowed to shut down Book Chase unless you get permission from me! I'm so sorry; I really thought that memo went out eons ago.

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  8. I think someone on my vast staff must have misplaced it, Susan...just can't get good help these days.

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  9. I've decided not to accept ARCs anymore, Sam. The pressure to post a full review is too great, and I don't want to burn out on my blogging. I've seen several fall by the wayside this month too. I'll miss them.

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  10. Sam, you can't go, you are such a wonderful book blogger! I know it's hard, heaven knows I've wondered the past couple of years if I've run out of things to say, but mostly it's because so much was going on in my personal life. It's been an extremely difficult couple of years. I'm glad that I managed to keep my blog going through it all,and that I am able to get posting more regularly now. I really need to do more posts about books, though! you do a wonderful job with yours.

    I decided early on to not accept any Arcs. We used to get them when I worked in bookstores so I would read the advance copies there. I want my blog to be about my love affair with books, and I have a struggle to read all I want to read on my own, so Arcs were just going to take me from books I already wanted to read. I know many of you do read Arcs, and it's fun to see what is coming out! But I know I could never handle the stress of getting reviews out in time.

    I know about wanting to read series over again - I've been planning to read Ian Rankin from beginning for a year now! Poor Gavin is still waiting for me to begin this one :-) I hope you enjoy the Robicheaux reread, some of the books in the series ((I've read most of them) are very good.

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  11. Debbie, I won't be cutting out ARCs completely, but I've got to be way more selective, I think. Otherwise my TBR list is just turning into a wish list of reading I will never get around to...and that means a burn out is coming. Don't want to end up there.

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  12. Susan, I don't think I'll ever quit book blogging, it's just too important to me. But it's important that it keeps being fun, or I'll find myself just slowly losing interest in the whole thing. When it starts to become more like a job than a fun hobby, it's time to reassess the whole process.

    Ian Rankin would be another fun series to re-read, but I don't own all of the books. I'm thinking of doing the same with Elizabeth George (long as her books are), John Harvey, and Dennis Lehane. Maybe a few others, down the road.

    Thanks for your kind words. You always cheer me up.

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  13. Yes, the self-induced pressure can be too much. I don't accept many review copies, and want to do even fewer next year. I have a lot of backlist and reading from my own shelves that I want to do, plus I just like to read whatever I want, and post when I want as well. As you say, keeping blogging meaningful and fun so that I will keep at it and enjoy it!

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  14. Melwyk, I think that "self-induced pressure" is the worst kind because it is usually from something we really care about. I hate, too, that I can't keep up with emails from PR people and publishers, and self-published authors because there are just too many of them. These are not problems I ever dreamed I would be concerned about when I started blogging. Back then, I was just hoping that I wouldn't be the only one reading...

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  15. Rereading a series is a particular pleasure i think is well worth making the time for. I've started with the J P Beaumont series, and I agree the George one would be worth it, I have all of them saved on a shelf for the purpose.

    Just as retirement gives you an opportunity to choose what to do with your days, choose what is worth your reading time, and then take us along with you.

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  16. Thanks for being here, Susan...it's nice to know that I have regular visits from people like you.

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