Alexis writes …
For the last few years, I’ve been enjoying using Goodreads to organize my TBR (To Be Read) list, find new books, chat with friends, and review books. I enjoy leaving ratings and reviews, when I finish a book, and I use the reviews of others to help me decide what to read next. However, I’ve noticed lately that as I’m reading, I’m thinking more about what my rating will be and what my review will say than about the book. I feel like I’m constantly writing book reports! Even when I decide not to leave a review, I’m still constantly thinking about how many stars I’ll give the book. How can I keep using these community features, but get back to focusing on the story?
Brea: I get this. You are a person with goals. You, probably, actually complete New Year’s Resolutions, and maybe even floss every night. On the book side of things, you’ve trained yourself to constantly be thinking about realizing those reading goals and not the feeling the joy of the journey. I want to say, first, it’s great to be a citizen of the Book Community. Don’t beat yourself up. You are helping other people pick books to read with your well-thought-out-in-advance viewpoints!
Mallory: Brea’s right. Reviews are important! They help both authors and readers alike. But, Alexis, I think you need to take a break from reviewing, even if it’s just a short one. You’re having some serious Bookish Internet Burnout. Take a couple weeks off, take a month off. Give yourself some time to read, without any pressure, and remember why you love books. It’s easy for social media to make us feel anxious about anything, even reading. During your break, try re-reading some books you have already read and loved (and reviewed!), so there’s even less pressure on you. When you’re ready to return to reviewing, rethink your methodology. It sounds like crafting a detailed review might not be fun for you. The time and effort you sink into book reviews should never outweigh the joy you get from reading books. You need to kick the stress out of your reading life! There are a lot of ways to review books. Try reviewing only the books that you really liked, so you don’t have to worry about the one you didn’t. Try using Litsy, a bookish app with lots of community features, which has a thumbs-up or thumbs-down review system so you don’t have to worry about a star rating. Try only marking a book as Read, and keeping your rating for a private book journal. Try a totally unconventional system. Maybe a book isn’t five-stars, maybe it’s a Shirtless Jason Momoa. Think outside the book reviewing box!
Brea: If, after all that, you’re still thinking about the rating or the clever thing you have to say about the book, go ahead and just do it—give a mid-book update! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an, “Enjoying the new Ann Leckie 100 pages in!” or, “Reading this historical romance and it’s getting slow … can anyone tell me it’s going to get better?” Research has shown that just writing down your To-Do list before bed makes you not stay up at night thinking about all the dumb crap you have to do the next day. Maybe this can work the same way for you. You’re getting your thoughts out of your head in a public way and interacting with the bookish community you know and love. Check off that To-Do list so you can get back to the most important thing—ENJOYING GREAT BOOKS.