The book prescription

Bookish Discussions: Book Stress

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So today I am bringing a discussion post and it has been a while since I have done one of those. This is something that has been on my mind lately, it is partly about me but I am sure it applies to many readers and so in this post, I am going to talk about some of the sources of stress in the book world and how to fight those!

I don’t know how to start with this post but while thinking about those points I noticed that these sources of stress stem from either numbers and comparisons or just the mere pressure of conformation. I will try to break these into smaller points:

The Number of books read in a year:

The important thing about reading is enjoying it! You can read 10 books in a year and enjoy them and that’s enough and you can read 100 and it is also cool! If you read books constantly then you are a reader and someone who reads 100 books is not better than someone who reads less! I have seen some of the slower readers accuse faster readers of not enjoying reading and faster readers shaming slower readers for not reading more. This is something personal and we should not care what others think as long as we are enjoying it!

Goodreads Reading Challenge

This is related to the above point but GR has the reading challenge and I do notice some readers stressing if they are getting behind on their challenge! My advice is that this is a personal challenge and you can always change it, I prefer to start with a lower number than my actual goal, I started with 52 books this year and then raised it to 100 and won’t raise it again! If you have a goal that you don’t think you can achieve and it is giving you stress, then simply change it to a smaller number! No one but you will remember how many books you read exactly in a year

Certain Genre And Authors Stress

Some readers will judge other readers for reading a certain genre like YA or romance or erotica! If you like a certain genre and it makes you happy then go for it and don’t think twice! The end goal is enjoyment and haters gonna hate anyway! This also applies to certain authors like SJM or CC.

Reading Diverse Books

Reading those books and supporting these authors is very important. No one can deny that! The problem lies with stanning those books so much and attacking readers who did not enjoy them much! Sorry to break it down but they are still books and they can be criticized! One of my friends was recently attacked for not liking a certain book although her review was great and very respectful and she even mentioned positive things about the book! One accused her of not liking POC books despite her being a POC reviewer which is lame! She is now stressing over reading more books by POC because she is scared of not liking them and that should not be a thing!

DNFing Books

Simple: If you don’t like a book, if it feels like a chore to pick it up then DNF it for now or forever! It is not like reading is a day job and someone will cut off your wages for that! What works for someone may not work for others. I know it may feel like a betrayal to our beloved books but I assure you the benefit outweighs the disadvantages in this case!

Requests

As you start reading more and if your numbers are good, naturally authors will be interested in having you review their books by sending an email and for people who have a hard time saying NO this may be anxiety-provoking. My rule now is replying to those emails (The authors are also humans and I do want them to know I am not ignoring them) with what my true feelings are. I have been refusing many requests just by telling them the truth, for example, Your book belongs to a genre I do not like so there is a good chance I won’t enjoy it and to avoid this negativity I have to refuse this request! The good thing is that all authors have been understanding so far and they thanked me for replying to those requests!

Writing Reviews

As I said multiple times above, this is not a job, we are not getting paid to do it and we just need to have fun! If you love writing reviews (As I Do) then do it, if you don’t enjoy them then you do not have to! If you want to but do not have much time then write one line or a small paragraph, there is no penalty for doing so! I confess that being a best reviewer sometimes puts me in stress to read more books and review them which won’t be happening anymore! It is good to be the country’s best reviewer and a global best reviewer occasionally, but it is just a title and I don’t get advantages for it especially being an intl reader! I used to put off reading some huge books because I thought that means writing fewer reviews! I do not care anymore! I want to enjoy books and I just spent last week reading Priory of the Orange Tree and nothing much changed! I was not on the list this week and I am 100% okay with that!

Monthly TBR

Creating a TBR in advance for each month is a double-edged weapon. Some readers -Including me- find it helpful to plan so I don’t stress over what to read next and so that I can mentally prepare for my next read! Other readers try this but think it is hard to commit to, especially moody readers who want to pick something different than what they wanted last month! There is no obligation to make one, if you want to try it then do and if it makes you stress then immediately drop it!

TBR Piles

We know that TBRs only grows larger and never smaller. When I started reading 4 years ago one of my friends IRL advised me to keep ~50 books in my TBR and I have been doing this since then and it really works for some reason. Whenever I finish a few I add new ones so the number I have in front of me when I log in is almost always 50 and not more!

One thing that some readers do is adding the whole series at once, I think that will increase the number significantly for a series you may not end up liking! I recommend adding the first book in the series only and after finishing it deciding to add the 2nd one or not!

Another advice is to revisit the TBR and removing books you are no longer interested in! My book taste kind of changed this year so I had to remove some books I do not think I will enjoy anymore and it felt good!

The HYPE

Reading a hyped book can be a source of stress because what if I don’t like it? How will I understand the references and what people are talking about in the future?

It is cool to be a part of a fandom and raving over a book with other fans but always stay honest and you will find after a while that that is the best option! You will not care about the hype anymore but you will always understand it that way.

ARCs

ARCs are a big part of the reading community especially when you start seeing people around you get them and you don’t! Once again, that does not make you any less of a reader, ARCs is just a marketing strategy so it is all about the number, quantity over quality. I have read a good number of ARCs and I am telling you that ARCs are a 1000% source of stress because the process entails many stressful steps, requesting a book online and then waiting and then either getting denied and start questioning why and stressing over it or getting approved and then new sources of anxiety are created: Reading the ARC at the right time, writing a review and there is always a pressure of liking it because we want more ARCs in the future and we want to stay on the good side of publishers!

I have taken 2 helpful decisions this year: First was regarding E-ARCs where I finished all of the ones I currently have and reviewed them and stopped requesting any new ones! I do add ARCs I am interested now to my anticipated shelf (on Edelweiss) and if I want to read one I request it then when I know I will start reading it immediately! Edelweiss may be better than Netgalley in having no feedback percentage (Numbers = Stress) and because sometimes NG approves you at the last moment and then you have to review the book in a very short amount of time when you may not even be in the mood to read it!!!!

The second was also putting a pause on requesting physical ARCs. Except for TOR.com (since they are the nicest and they always reply to me and send me books so it is not a source of stress for me).
I took this decision after someone tweeted and asked who wanted a book on twitter and everyone who replied got it except for me, I was ghosted which is one of my biggest pet peeves! I am not mentioning who they are just because I think they did not mean it and because I know they are nice and probably did not see my tweet! (But I can’t get over it easily).

Social Media

In general, there are many ways to engage with the book community on social media including Twitter, Instagram and Personal Blogs! In general, we sometimes feel the pressure to post regularly and to engage with other readers and this may affect the time we spend on actually reading!

Twitter: This is a really tricky place because people may be too sensitive or too insensitive. I try to scroll and skip nowadays and not engaging in every single discussion because you can’t change how people think!

Instagram: This needs time to take pictures and edit them and posting and then engaging with other people. It may look easy and simple but it is not.

Blogs: Blogs need the most work, especially when they are first started, the need to post and blog hop and share on social media is exhausting!

Some common themes between all of these: There are the followers who follow you and unfollow when you follow them back. This is rude but the best thing to do is not overthink it and Karma always comes back for them. I used to have an app to track these people but then I started obsessing over numbers, I deleted it and I do not recommend these apps because they may seem to help but they don’t! You will know sooner or later if they unfollowed you and you can take action then!

There is also a kind of popularity contest in all of these communities and the trap of numbers is real! Do these things for enjoyment and do not obsess over numbers and you will notice they will eventually grow. Do not over-analyze why this post got fewer likes and why no one commented on this one! Do these things for yourself and it always pays off! I slowly could ignore the status tap here on my blog and I don’t care how much likes a post gets anymore! I had to remind myself that I am doing this for myself and not others! If you are not in the mood to post today then do not! No one forces you to do that!

Physical Books

All books are good books, whether they are PB, HC, ebooks or even audiobooks! There is pressure to buy more physical copies which do not make you more of a reader! I am leaving a link to a video where the booktube queen Cindy explains all about this:

I am not saying having too many books is a bad thing, I do own many books! If you have money and space then you can get all the books in the world but if you don’t then that’s totally okay too! Cindy explains all of this in a better way!

The funny thing is that when I started reading, I used to read fewer books and owned fewer books and did not have many book friends but it was stress-free and that is my goal for the next year! No more book stress!!!
Those are all the things that came to mind when I thought of stress sources Did I miss anything? Comment below!

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