I've struggled with consistently maintaining this blog, and I think I might finally have figured out why...
I don't like posting negative reviews for books. In fact, I actually kind of hate it. *ducks*
I think I have this perception that because I call this a "book review blog" I have some kind of responsibility to review both books I loved and books I didn't. But what I have noticed over time is that while I can't write the glowing, happy reviews fast enough, the less complimentary reviews cause me a not insignificant amount of distress.
It might be because I'm currently working on my own first novel, and every time I start to write up a review for a book that I just didn't love, I can't help but put myself in the author's shoes. When I consider the possibility of the author stumbling across my post, I feel anxious and a little guilty. It's not that I don't feel entitled to my opinion - I do. But I know how much goes into trying to write something great, how much editing and revising and agonizing has gone into each draft, and how incredibly personal your writing is to you. I just don't want to be the person who tears down someone else's hard work.
Writing those kinds of reviews also feels directly at odds with my purpose for starting this blog in the first place: finding other equally obsessed readers and sharing my favorite books with them. I want this space to be a happy, positive place that celebrates the books and authors that I love and want to promote! I want it to be a place where I share writing tips and struggles, and maybe point out some of my favorite bits and pieces of what some authors I love have to say about writing. I want to post occasional updates about my progress on my own book, and maybe connect with some other people who are out there working on their own first novels. I want to share the bookish decor that I'm drooling over on Etsy and Pinterest. I want to obsess about books and writing with other people who obsess about books and writing.
What I don't want this blog to be is a place where I ever have to feel even a little crummy about something I've posted.
Honestly, this has been a difficult post for me to write. I worry that declaring that I only want to post about books that I love may be met with derision by some members of the book blogging community. I even debated just closing down my blog altogether, but this space used to be something that I took a lot of joy from, and I think it can be that again. And just to be clear: do I think other people shouldn't post honest, negative reviews for books? No! Not at all. It's just not the right choice for me personally.
So! New policy going forward: I'm only going to publish reviews for books that earned at least a 3 star rating from me. (Note: 3 stars for me IS a very good rating. In my mind, 3 stars means I read and really enjoyed the book, I'll be keeping it in my collection, and it has reread potential down the road. 4 stars are definite rereads. 5 stars are those special golden unicorns that I think everyone on the planet needs to read, immediately if not sooner. I'm pretty stingy with the 5 stars though!)
Further, I'm not going to let myself feel pressured to review *everything* that earns 3 stars and up, because I read at a fast pace and it's just not realistic to think that I could keep up with that. I'm also going to be playing around with different types of reviews - I will probably do a mixture of some full length, in depth reviews and some smaller, mini reviews. I might even combine a few mini reviews into one post. I want to experiment with some different formats and see what works best for me.
I'm also giving myself permission to bail on the various challenges that I so optimistically signed up for at the beginning of the year, mainly because trying to keep track of my progress for each of them is time consuming, and that's time I would rather spend reading, working on my book, or creating blog content. The only "challenges" I'm giving myself are to start posting regularly again and to catch up on my NetGalley backlog. I've gotten some great books from NetGalley, and I feel awful that my ratio there is so terrible. I'd like to see that improve each month so that it's somewhat respectable by the end of the year.
I guess ultimately I see myself as less of a "book review blogger" and more of a book blogger who posts some reviews. It's just a change in perspectivem and I think this new outlook will help me to post more consistently and to really enjoy this space again.
I can't wait to purge all my half-finished 1 and 2 star review drafts and just leave them behind! What a weight off my shoulders!
Do you ever struggle with what kind of space you want your blog to be? Is it hard for you to post negative reviews?