A couple days ago I read this post by Michele at A Reader's Respite about the prevalence of reviews about the same books. It got me thinking about my own reading habits in the last year since I first started receiving ARCs. I was a little stunned at how few books I've read that are not ARCs. Just this year alone, of the 20 books I've read 14 of them were either ARCs or offered by the authors. That leaves only 6 books I read just because I wanted to.
I will state up front that I have thoroughly enjoyed my reading this year. I am grateful to authors and publishers who are willing to pass along a free book in exchange for an honest critique. I didn't used to read a lot of modern literature. In fact I was a bit of a snob about them. I looked down my noise at modern literature as inferior compared to the old, wise classics. To me, the classics were intelligent and exercised the mind while modern literature was a lot of fluff and hot air, or just repeating poorly what had already been said with style and class. Since joining the book blogging community I have learned a powerful lesson about the value of modern literature. Out of those 20 books read this year only one is older than 4 years old (The Reluctant Dragon is closer to 100.) and only 1 of them did I seriously not like. Most of them I truly loved. I have felt especially lucky with my reading selections this year.
But...I miss my classics; I miss the freedom to browse my personal book shelves and read whatever jumps out at me. I have about 500 books(I'm not counting children's books or my husband's), most of which are TBR. I feel as if all those books that I paid money for are going to waste. They look great on the shelf but that's not why I bought them. I want to actually read them and I am not.
Today I got a notice in the mail that an ARC that I requested a couple of weeks ago will not be coming my way. I am relieved. It means that once I've read the two ARCs I have and the one that is supposed to be on its way then I'll be able to get into one of my own books. This makes me happy.
I'm not done with ARCs and author offerings but I will be a lot more choosy from today on. I think it's time to let my reading be led by my interests. Maybe I'll read everything written by a new-to-me author. Maybe I'll join a challenge again. Maybe I'll just close my eyes and read whichever book my finger touches first. The idea makes me feel free and excited.
I know I'm not the only one. Michele has had 40+ comments saying essentially the same thing. Maybe someone should start an Off the Shelves challenge. Anyone willing?
Non-fiction, modern fiction and childrens collections on the left; classics and poetry on the right.