Reading for pleasure sounds like a natural action for book lovers. If it’s not for school then of course you are reading for pleasure, especially if you are a book blogger…right? Not always. Unfortunately for us bookish people, we frequently fall in the trap where we read for our audience, for a blog post, a publisher or for “book cred” and forget to read for pleasure. It’s something that can happen without even realizing. Then suddenly a month has gone by, then two, and you are starting to stare bitterly at your TBR pile. So what do you do when reading becomes a business?
I was an intern at a major publisher and it was absolutely amazing, a book lovers dream, BUT I had a reading problem. I had stacks of ARCs to read and prepare work for. They were almost all books I would be happy to pick up in store anyway so I should have been thrilled. But I’d also lost control of my TBR and that can be a bigger problem than expected. It was no longer mine to pick and chose which book I read based on mood or season. I almost resented my book stacks by the end of the internship because I missed reading when and where I wanted to. These feelings were completely unexpected. I was overwhelmed and questioning if I even enjoyed books anymore. I thought I would have my Book Lovers badge taken away because I was so lucky to be in my position, surrounded by amazing books and future best sellers, and not loving every minute. And then my internship was over and I still couldn’t get passed my negative TBR feelings. It became important for me to take back my reading agency. Sounds dramatic, I know.
Here’s how I managed to bring the pleasure back into reading while also making reading my business as a blogger, bookstagrammer, and Librarian.
I learned how to skim *gasp* fiction in a productive manner. Pick and choose the books that draw you in, even if a blog post is required. If it doesn’t draw you in on that particular day but you have a deadline then skim it. I promise no one will revoke your reading rights. Unless you work for a literary magazine or are advertising a detailed review, no one is expecting a 5000 word detailed essay. They want fun quick points. Grab a favourite line or really fabulous scene in the novel and highlight that. Take note of the writing style and compare similar books. Make sure you hit the major plot points (or at least have read them) and be aware of problematic language. Readers will still get a genuine feel for the book, regardless of whether you read every nuanced word or not. Scandalous.
I’m not suggesting building a career on skimming books, i’m just suggesting that if reading is your job, learn when a book needs an in depth read and when you are in a position to skim. Sometimes even the act of taking the pressure off your reading will help remove the bitter feeling and you’ll find yourself falling into an in depth reading regardless of original intent. Your TBR will slowly start to shrink and that crushing feeling will dissipate. Then allow yourself time for your pleasure reading, even if it’s just a chapter or two a day. Don’t make a book you are dying to read wait just because your TBR is filled with business reading.
Reading may be my job but I don’t let that job over power the joy of reading. At the end of the day, life is too short to read books you don’t like.
Until next time,
P.s. Other tips from a professional reader: learn to say no (publishers will not cease to work with you because you said no once) and always be honest with your readers.