Discussions

LET’S TALK ABOUT… changes in priorities, ARCs, and rekindling my love of reading!

February 24, 2020

Okay, friends, it’s been a while since we’ve had a discussion and there have been some changes both big and small… let’s have a chat.

Okay, sorry, let me take off my “stern parent” hat for a minute because I made myself a little nervous there. 😅

Anyways, today I want to talk to you lovelies about a few things that are kind of actually just ONE thing — at their root, anyways — and that is the recent realization I’ve had that my priorities are all wrong lately and, let’s face it, I’m struggling lately.

clip from Grey's Anatomy: Meredith: "Are you in the dark place?" Christina: "Yeah." Meredith: "Me too."

Now, some of it is normally seasonal depression “February sucks” shit coupled with the ridiculously gloomy weather we’ve had here lately, but a lot of it is how disconnected I’ve been feeling from books and everything bookish lately. For example:

  1. I’ve been forcing myself to read one 100-page-or-less novella per day for the last several days because it’s the only way I can convince myself to read ANYTHING.
  2. As you may have noticed from my horribly inconsistent blog post schedule lately, posting on here has become a nightmare and I feel horribly uninspired.
  3. Booktube overwhelms me a little, even though I so badly want to film and upload videos, because I don’t feel like I have anything valuable to say at the moment.
  4. My biggest bookish goal lately has been to revive my bookstagram and start posting consistently on a schedule there again — if you didn’t know, bookstagram was my first primary platform and I love it so much when I get in a good routine! — but I feel like a fraud posting pictures of books when I’m hardly touching them.

It’s taken me weeks of fretting and stressing and generally being sad about all of the above before I was finally able to figure out what triggered all of these feelings after I ended 2019 and started 2020 in such a good place, and I think I’ve figured it out: I can’t remember the last time I let myself mood read.

a girl crying with text saying "I miss you and how close we used to be"

^ me to mood reading

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Now, I know what you’re thinking… “Just embrace the slump! It’ll pass!” But I think we’re past that point by now, friends.

I’ve been “embracing the slump” and “waiting for it to pass” on and off — mostly on — for about a year now. You know how they say nobody knows you better than you know yourself? Well, I know myself, and I know this isn’t just a passing slump: plain and simple, this is putting far too much pressure on myself to do the things I think I “should” be doing instead of doing the things I want to do. Instead of mood reading and grabbing random titles off my shelves and jumping in on group reads and having fun with readathons, I’ve been devoting practically every single moment of my reading life to review copies lately, and the pressure and guilt and feelings of overwhelm are basically eating my brain at this point.

woman in sunglasses saying "please make it stop"

My point is:

I don’t think this “slump” is going to pass on its own — I think it’s time I make some serious changes and commit to my own self-care so that I can regain my lifelong love for my single favorite hobby: reading!

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This all feels a little bit like a lot to me right now, but it’s okay, because I have a plan! Or, technically, a few plans.

Michael Sheen nodding and saying, "You had a plan. It's good to have a plan."

  1. Less pressuring myself about review copies. No, really. I say this all the time and then I never actually do anything to help myself out, so this time, I’ve come up with a few measures to put the overdue ones “out of mind” a bit:
    1. I’ve split my unread ARCs spreadsheet into two pages — 2020 and pre-2020 — and have hidden the pre-2020 sheet. It’s still accessible, but it’s out of sight, which helps me not to obsess and fret over it so much.
    2. No more review copies on my TBRs. Even if it’s a super hot anticipated title that I’m dying to read that month, it’s still not allowed on my monthly TBR, seasonal TBR, or TBR jar lists.
  2. If I randomly find a book scrolling through Goodreads or Kindle Unlimited or whatever and want to read it right then and there, I’m going to read it right then and there. I almost NEVER read books immediately after adding them to my TBR because I tell myself, “I can’t wait to read that after I read some review copies!” (Seriously, I can’t even describe how much of my reading life lately has revolved around ARC shame — does anyone feel me?) And then, by the time I’m “ready” to read it, the mood has passed and it never gets read. *side-eyes entire purchased TBR*
  3. If I see a buddy/group read announcement that I want to join in, no more excuses! At least once or twice a month, I see an open group read or someone looking for a buddy read partner and I’ll want so badly to join, but “I don’t have time” because “I need to stick to my TBR!” Screw that. Same for readathon challenges! In fact, I have a readathon planned for later this year that I can’t wait to announce, but I had to literally talk myself into it because it leaves basically no room for ARC reading at all. *gasp!*

All of these new plans basically boil down to one thing… as much as I appreciate ARCs and acknowledge how immensely privileged I am to receive them, I also have to recognize that, at the end of the day, reading and my blog/booktube/bookstagram/etc. are a hobby, not a job, and promoting a review copy or pleasing a publisher should never have to come at the expense of my own happiness and self-care.

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Now, here’s where you come in!

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes saying, "Will you help me?"

Obviously, there’s not much you all can do if I’m not candid about how I’m doing, so I’m still working on being more transparent about my mental health online, but if you see me starting to obsess and self-shame and generally beat myself up over this stuff, I’ll never turn down a kind reminder that this is a hobby and I need to focus on my mental health and happiness first. And if you’re feeling the same way and need someone to talk to, I’m here for you, too! 

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It’s tough to be open about these things, but I feel better and more motivated after getting that off my chest. How about you — have you ever been in this position, or are you right now?

Also, if you have any advice, please let me know in the comments or DM me on twitter — I can use all the help and accountability I can get! ♥

destiny

twitter | booktube | bookstagram | facebook | goodreads

 

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13 Comments

  • Reply MetalPhantasmReads February 24, 2020 at 10:15 am

    GIRL I feel the same way! I haven’t been enjoying a lot of this either. My husband has always warned me to make this feel like a job and he’s right. I’m not sure what else to do but both of us will get through it 🙂

  • Reply Caro @ bookcheshirecat February 24, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Thank you for being so open about this! I really hope you’ll be able to enjoy reading again and I’m happy to hear that you have a few plans on how to do that 😊 Since my last big reading slump during high school, I have gladly not had another one. However, in 2018 I was having these huge (10+ book) TBR’s every month and it really helped me to make shorter TBR’s, with maybe only 5 books from a variety of areas (library, new releases) that left room for some mood reading. I have been doing a lot more mood reading lately and tried to see my TBR as something that’s not set in stone – sometimes that really helps 🙂

  • Reply Sahi February 24, 2020 at 11:06 am

    Wow this seems so much like my current state.. I’ve only been able to read novellas too because I don’t feel like reading anything else 😬😬😬 and it was just yesterday night that I decided I’ll only read the ARCs if I’m in the mood for them and not pressure myself. The pressure is just making me more disinterested even though some of them are my highly anticipated releases… I hope I’ll pick up something just based on my mood soon 😭😭😭

  • Reply Holly February 24, 2020 at 11:50 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this, I can totally relate!! I constantly have to remind myself that this is a ~hobby~ and no matter how much effort I would ideally like to put into it, I can only do so much realistically. Sending you all the bookish hugs! <3

  • Reply mall3tg1rl February 24, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    HOO do i feel this. i don’t even get a fraction of the copies you get, and i STILL feel so overwhelmed!!

  • Reply evelynreads1 February 24, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    I hope you will be able to mood read, and enjoy it!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

  • Reply Kayla @ Books and Blends February 24, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    I understand you so much! I have been trying not to force myself to read something just to have content but because I’m actually excited about the story.

  • Reply melandherbooks February 24, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    girl I have been feeling the same way! While I’m excited that I got a new computer (yesterday) and can get back to blogging and doing other things, Im still anxious about falling behind or not keeping up, despite how excited I am that I finally have a new computer. I’m worried that I’m secretly a fraud or a failure. I haven’t been all that honest about my mental state either and haven’t been the best at speaking out about it or leaning on the people who want to be there for me.

  • Reply devouringbooks2017 February 24, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    Omg I completely relate! I think that a lot of my problem was that I was trying to do just SO much and it just became too much. I have had a hard time getting into any books lately–especially fantasies which is my favorite genre. And the problem is when you’re used to reading tons of ARCs and then you get in a slump the pressure just gets bigger and bigger until I’m in this shame spiral and have picked up and put down 7 books that I was super hype about when I first heard about them.

    Another thing that I’ve noticed lately is that there are lots of ARCs that I have that dont come out until june or July and I tell myself that I cant read them yet because I’d have to hold the review until closer to publication and then I wont have any blog material…. and then when time rolls around that I can read the books that I got months early I’m no longer excited about them. So now I want to just let myself read what I want to read when I’m excited for it. If I have to hold the review … so what? And actually allowing myself to do that is SO hard. I dont know how to just let go of all of the “rules” I make for myself when it comes to ARCs…

    Also I used to love taking photos for instagram… I felt creative and it was fun. I think pressuring myself to post everyday was just too much for me and it started to take the fun out of it.

    I love blogging. But sometimes I just put too much on my own plate

  • Reply Malka @ Paper Procrastinators February 25, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    I’m so happy you’re making these changes! I’ve had periods where reading became a super stressful hobby and I had to re-evaluate how I was approaching my relationship with books. For me I usually have to make peace with the fact that I can’t accomplish everything I originally set out to do. When I get overwhelmed by school or my life becomes busy there always comes a point where I get so stressed out by reading, reviewing, and blogging that I end up taking a moment to make sure my priorities are in order and that I’m putting my mental health first. That’s why our Instagram is currently on hiatus. It became too stressful, so my co-blogger and I decided to put it on hold. The one thing I’ve never wavered on is the fact that I’m a mood reader, so TBRs kill all my enjoyment. I don’t even make tentative TBRs for myself because I get too caught up even in those. I just read the books I’m interested in when I feel like it, and it makes reading a pleasure rather than a chore!

  • Reply marydrover February 26, 2020 at 10:47 am

    I’ve never accepted ARCs because of this reason, but I feel the same way about preorders a lot. I always feel like if I went to the trouble of preordering something and then have been excited about it for however long, shouldn’t I be reading it right away when it arrives? But maybe when it arrives, I’m not in the mood for it, and then it just sits next to my bed forever and glares at me, and I feel ashamed of reading some random book I just bought when I preordered this one four months ago and I STILL haven’t gotten around to it?

    So I feel you. It’s hard. And it’s weird that we do this to ourselves. I started a job this year that basically took away ALL of my reading time, and I’ve had a really hard time coming to terms with that. I read almost 200 books last year, and I was so hyped and ready to do it again, but that was because I literally read all day at my job. And now, without that, I keep feeling like a failure for only having read 10 books this year. It feels weird and icky to be reading less, but I also have to keep reminding myself that I’ve truly enjoyed ALL 10 books that I’ve read so far this year, and that should matter more than the number, right?

    But brains suck, and they make us think dumb things because society is all about numbers and more more more, and it’s bad, but we’re here for each other, and you should read for pleasure! That’s the whole point! That’s why literally any of us ended up blogging in the first place. I mean, bookstagram is literally just pictures of books because we love them THAT MUCH that not only do we want to read them, we want to sigh over how pretty they are.

    Oh my gosh, this turned into a mini essay, WHOOPS, but basically I’m here and I totally understand what you’re going through and we can do this together. <3

  • Reply Brooklynne Michelle February 26, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    I have learned very much so that a monthly TBR is the fastest way for me ensure I am not going to read something, so I have stopped doing them. I am so much a mood reader it’s not even funny, so I make sure that between each ARC I read I read something just because I feel like it. I’m trying to limit my ARCs to 4ish per month so as to make sure I don’t start to hate reading.

    I as always appreciate your honesty and openness… It has been invaluable to my mental health and enjoyment of book blogging in my first year. I hope you find a rhythm that works for you!

  • Reply Rachel @ thewasofshall March 13, 2020 at 9:47 am

    Hooo boy—I feel this so hard! I’ve been in a slump myself and finally had to just abandon arcs and reviews completely. I haven’t read a book “just because” for months now due to how many arcs I have (and also how many arcs are overdue). It’s good to know that someone else is in a similar place as me, because it feels less like a personal failure and more like maybe turning a hobby into a “have to” is a very common predicament. Good luck!

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