Has blogging about books changed how you read?

I’m curious what you book bloggers out there have experienced. Sandra from Book World got me interested in this question when she wrote:

I realise that the tyranny of blogging and of feeling that I have to deliver something ‘new’ has meant that in the 18 months of this blog’s existence, only one of the books I’ve read has been a re-read. That’s not at all typical of my pre-blog reading profile ….

Has anyone else felt that blogging can be tyrannical? Having begun blogging in mid-March of this year, I haven’t been doing it long enough to know, really. My reading habits have changed, but I can’t tell yet if those changes will be permanent or if I’m going through a temporary stage, doing some experimenting I’ll give up eventually. And right now I’m having so much fun blogging that it’s hard to imagine the negatives that come with it, but I’m sure they are there to be discovered.

Blogging has made me a more careful reader, at least to the extent that I take the time to post on quotations I’ve found meaningful and to develop my responses to books enough to write them down coherently. This is probably one of the best things about book blogging. (I’m imagining getting comments and taking part in conversations would be another for a lot of people). Now I have a record of quotations and my thoughts about books. Perhaps I’ll remember better what I read, or at least I’ll be better able to remember the things I’ve pulled out of my reading to write about. Writing about what I think makes me have better thoughts.

By reading blogs, I’m also hearing about more books than I did before. Well, maybe I’m paying attention to what I hear a bit more. There are tons of places to get information about books, and I’ve always heard and read a lot about the books out there, but I’m coming to think that book blog sites are among the best sources of information because I can come to know and trust the writer’s opinions. There’s context there, a much more complex one than in a regular book review. Yes, I pretty much know what to expect from, say, the New York Review of Books, and that provides a context in which I can judge how to respond to a review, and there are some reviewers who publish so frequently I get to know their opinions and tastes, but in a book blog, I get a much stronger sense of the writer and so can trust the recommendations that much more confidently.

I mark up my books more than I used to, and I catch myself thinking of blog posts as I read, looking around for good quotations and trying to decide if a particular idea or scene is worth turning into a post.

My to-be-read list is growing rapidly. I’ve had such a list for a while, but it tended to be fairly short; I’d only put books on there that I was highly likely to read at some point in the near future. But now it’s growing, partly because I’ve made a conscious decision to make it more comprehensive, and partly because I’m coming across so many more things I’d really, really like to read.

Shortly after beginning the blog, I started reading more than one or two things at once after I read about other people’s multiple-book-reading habits. It sounded like such a good way to read in different genres and to read difficult things I might not want to spend hours with in one stretch. This makes it easier for me to read poetry and difficult nonfiction.

I wonder, as I go on, if the fact that I’m blogging about reading will affect my choice of books. I can see why blogging might lead to less re-reading, as Sandra points out, since I wouldn’t want to bore you with another review of the same book I read a year ago. On the other hand, though, if every reading of the same book is different – if I read Evelina differently now than I did in a graduate school class years back – then blogging about a re-reading might be interesting, for comparison’s sake. Sometimes I’m tempted to re-read pre-blog books I really love, just so I can have the fun of blogging about them.

I can imagine wanting to read the things that other book bloggers are reading in order to be a part of the conversation, but also NOT wanting to read what other book bloggers are reading, so that I’m not talking about the same thing everyone else is. The best thing to do, of course, is to try not to let these factors influence me and just pick books that sound appealing for other reasons, but I can see that I might be affected by what other bloggers are doing anyway.

I also wonder if and when the regular blogging gets tiresome. I haven’t felt anything but pleasure in it so far, but I would expect blogging over a long period could sometimes feel like a chore, like tyranny.

I am sometimes torn between the pleasure of reading books and the pleasure of reading book blogs. This may be one of the more difficult things of being a book blogger: that there are so many good book blogs to read and all those hundreds and thousands of blogs can be a distraction from what is the main point, really – reading books. I’m not sure if I read faster or slower, more or less than before I began blogging. Sometimes I want to read faster so I can be sure I have something to post about. Other times I have so many things to post about I want to read slower, so I won’t get even more ideas, and I don’t want to post too often and overwhelm readers – and myself. Does anyone worry that they won’t have anything to write about?

So, if you have a tale to tell about how blogging has changed your reading, I’m curious to hear it.

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