The last few months have been a bit odd for me, reading-wise. Even though my page count hasn’t dropped off, I have felt like I’m in a reading slump. Don’t get me wrong, I have read some books that I’ve really loved, but I’ve also struggled through a few books that I couldn’t quite get into. Objectively, I can tell that these are very good books, and yet… reading them feels like a chore.
Despite my reading resolution at the beginning of the year, review copies have taken over nearly half of my reading, and it’s kind of bringing me down. I have so many books on my shelf that I want to read, backlist titles and classics I want to buy, and new releases that I didn’t review but that I’ve heard great things about… and I don’t have time to read them. My reading is scheduled through May, and I miss the serendipity of browsing in a bookstore, buying a book, and reading it immediately.
I love being in a position to receive review copies, and I’m honored that publishers think sending me free books is worth their time and money… but I’m having trouble balancing these books with my regular reading. I get so much joy from cracking open a crisp galley and diving into a book that won’t be on shelves for a month, and I have read so many incredible books this way. But lately, the feeling that I’m reading a book because I need to get a review out in a timely manner, and not because it’s the book I’m craving at the moment, has been putting a damper on my reading style.
Balancing purchased/library books with review copies has always been important to me. I’ve been successful in keeping my review-copy reading under 50% of my total reading, but it still seems like too much sometimes. At these moments, I want to swear off galleys for a while — just stop requesting them and read only books from my shelf or my local indie for a few months. Oh the joy it would bring to finally read books that have been on my TBR list for months and years! And then I see someone mention an upcoming book on Facebook or Twitter that I simply MUST read, and I dive back into Edelweiss. Before I know it, three hours have gone by, and I have a list of dozens of titles I want to request.
It doesn’t help that books show up unannounced from time to time. I try to plan on reading two review copies per month, and I send out review requests accordingly. But if a few weeks go by and I haven’t heard back from a publisher, I assume I’ve been denied, and I’ll send out an email requesting the next book on my list. Of course, sometimes the first book will show up a month later, and I’ll have three books to review. Publicists, I love you, and I know you’re super busy, but it would be wonderful if you’d take 30 seconds to reply, “Yep, I’ll put a copy in the mail,” or “Sure, I’ll add you to the list.” It would greatly reduce my stress level. (Most of you do reply, and I give you many internet hugs.)
Bloggers, how do you balance your reading to keep from feeling overwhelmed or keep reading from feeling like work? Do you stick to a percentage of ARC vs. non-ARC books? If so, what percentage works for you? Do you have better strategies for working with publicists? Do you ignore pub. dates and simply read galleys when you feel like it? Do you plan breaks from review copies? Let me know in the comments!