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The blog angst bug bit me, too

April 17, 2009
by

Hmm, should I look for a lolcat to lighten things up? Anyway, a couple of things which may or may not make sense to anyone but me:

1) I’ve seen a couple of posts elsewhere about blogging and ARCs and authors offering books to bloggers and maybe because I just came back from a short trip and haven’t blogged in over a week, it’s made me think about some of these issues. So feel free to skip this if you’d rather read about actual YA books, but I think it’s only fair that I discuss these things openly here.

2) A while back, I jokingly considered creating something along the lines of a quiz from a teen magazine for authors/publishers/publicists to take before offering me books, though I didn’t get too far past four or five scenarios because it was getting harder and harder to think of anything clever. Um, I’m mentioning it now because I’ll return to this topic later. Way later.

3) I do plan to continue to blog about and review YA books. However, and keeping in mind that this applies only to me, not Gayle or Jolene, I have decided that once I finish the last batch of ARCs I accepted, my reading priority will be books I personally have borrowed from the library or bought. In other words, books I have made an effort to get my hands on. I borrow a ton of YA books from the library because I love to read them, but I also have come to feel that my non-YA reading has declined because of the blog. I think I still read the same amount of YA books as I have in the past, but as worthwhile as I find blogging and participating in the Cybils, they’ve eaten into my non-YA reading time, and there are so many adult books I want to read that I’ve missed or skipped over the last couple of years.

4) This said, I’m not sure my decision will have a noticeable effect on my frequency (or not) of blogging and which books I blog about. Being part of a statewide library system means that I can get my hands on most of the YA books I want to read, even if it’s a couple of months after others have read/blogged about certain books. It’s more of a philosophical change in the way I view my reading material. Through more than two years of blogging, I have never been one of those people who blogs about everything she reads. I mostly limit myself to those books about which I have something to say, whether positive or negative. Or both. (Which probably explains why, although I wish I could review more succinctly, most of my reviews and what I call not-really-a reviews are on the lengthy side.) And though I’ve said from the start that I won’t guarantee reviews, there is still a part of me that feels guilty when I don’t review a book I’ve accepted, even when people say they know about this policy as part of their initial email. It’s a feeling of obligation related to the part of me that feels that since I did say, “Yes, send me the book,” I must give it priority over non-YA books. Yes, it is awesome and exciting when ARCs show up in the mail, especially when you only get them sporadically, but I’m starting to wonder if the burden I feel is inherent in receiving them *as a book blogger, not for collection development purposes as a YA librarian* outweighs the feelings of excitement.

Here’s the thing (for this point, anyway): I don’t think I’m explaining this very well, but my new reading plan just *feels* different to me, more liberating, somehow. An acknowledgment, even if it’s only to myself, that my non-YA reading is just as important as my YA reading, though I’ll probably be taking home and reading and blogging about roughly the same number of YA books. And while I’ll probably never be able to read every book I want to read, there are that many of them, this way it at least feels like I have a better chance of getting to more of them.

5) Others have mentioned that these book offers can be a great way of finding out about books you weren’t aware of, or finding out that you loved a book you hadn’t previously considered reading. Which is true. So, while I’m still technically open to YA book offers, unless I’ve specifically mentioned your book in one of my Waiting on Wednesday posts or the 2009 books I’m looking forward to, chances are very slim that I will accept your offer. Because those are the books I really, really want to read personally, not only for professional reasons. Although you never know unless you try, right? (And, uh, if you’ve made an effort to personalize your email, I’ll also try to do a better job of responding promptly, even if it’s only a “Thanks, but no thanks” message.)

UNLESS…

…you take the following quiz and your book, which I have never mentioned before, scores more than five (5) points in any one section. Then I’ll say, “Oh my god, your book exists for real? Seriously, it’s an actual YA book and not just something I made up? Send it my way! Please?”

Is your book non-fiction? If yes, give yourself 1 point.
Is your non-fiction book about history? If yes, give yourself 1 more point.
Is your non-fiction book about science? If yes, give yourself 1 more point.
Is your non-fiction book about science and history? If yes, give yourself 4 more points.
Is your non-fiction book about some kind of epidemic? If yes, give yourself 50 points.

Is your novel a romance for older teens? If yes, give yourself 4 points.
Is your novel really a romance for older teens? Has a happy-for-now ending, no romance-(and-breakup)-as-part-of-coming-of-age or gee-I-finally-decided-twenty-pages-from-the-end-that-the-guy-I-was-crushing-on-is-a-jerk-and-I-actually-really-like-that-other-guy? If yes, give yourself 100 points.

Is your novel about teen spies? If yes, give yourself 100 points.
Is your novel about Asian-American teen(s) who just happen to be Asian-American? In other words, race or ethnicity is not a big deal? If yes, give yourself 100 points.
Does your teen spy novel feature Asian-American teens on the good side? (Okay, race or ethnicity can be a big deal in this one.) If yes, give yourself 1,000 points.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2009 6:18 pm

    Love your quiz!

  2. April 18, 2009 6:28 am

    Cool quiz! I wonder how many people actually followed through with it. If you were asking about fiction books, mine would probably qualify lol.

  3. April 18, 2009 7:43 am

    I have to say that the approach that you outlined here appeals to me, Trisha. Focusing reviews on the titles that you were excited enough about to seek them out. That makes sense to me. Hmm… something to think about.

    • April 18, 2009 3:02 pm

      As far as ARCs go, that’s the plan. Just limit myself to those books I most want to read and wait until I’m able to purchase (for myself or for the library) the ones I want to read, but not as badly, or am merely curious about, or feel like I should read for professional reasons. Then blog about any of the books that I feel deserve attention or otherwise motivates me enough to write about.

  4. April 18, 2009 8:48 am

    Reading what you want to read makes TOTAL sense to me! It’s good to give yourself permission to do what you want to do.🙂

    I love the quiz idea, I might steal that idea for myself some day down the line…

  5. April 18, 2009 11:57 am

    LOL. Loved your quiz. My book SLEEPLESS (HarperTeen) gets 104 point since it’s really a romance (and paranormal thriller) for teens that has a happy ending and no break ups. Gues it’s my romance writer background.🙂

    • April 18, 2009 2:48 pm

      Terri, I actually have your book checked out of the library right now! Need to read the newest Maisie Dobbs book and Sarah MacLean’s The Season first, then it’ll be on to your book, which just moved ahead of The Lost City of Z on my mental What To Read Next list.

  6. April 18, 2009 3:16 pm

    Becky, atassinari, and Kelly – When I first started creating the quiz, I was having fun and amusing myself. Then, trying to be clever became difficult, which is why there are only three sections.

    For anyone else reading (maybe I should edit the post and add this?) – The quiz is only half-serious. If you score more than 5 points, definitely get in touch with me. If you don’t, like I said, I’ll most likely say “Thanks, but no thanks,” but you are still welcome to email me.

  7. April 18, 2009 6:18 pm

    You’re cleverness is good, i give you that! My book falls more in line of romance with your typical ups and downs. It’s the first of a trilogy so the happy ending won’t necessarily happen in the first book, that would be too easy lol.

    adrianatassinari@europe.com

  8. April 19, 2009 2:47 am

    I like the idea of the quiz. I also like the idea of only limiting my ARC reading to those I’m interested in. But then, I also have a lousy track record of picking ones that I’m interested in (which makes the quiz that much more worthwhile). Thanks for the things to think about.

  9. April 19, 2009 11:49 am

    Hahahah. Why do I not see you hitting the 1,000 points any time soon? *sigh*
    After you’ve found your Ideal Editor to take your quiz, let me know if you find any Filipino American authored or main character YA books, please. There *HAVE* to be some out there…

    • April 19, 2009 12:21 pm

      Fresh Off the Boat by Melissa de la Cruz. Not a Race/Ethnicity book, but it is an Immigration book.
      The Language of Love (Love Stories #8) by Kate Emburg. Haven’t read it.
      And there’s one short story in American Eyes: New Asian-American Short Stories for Young Adults edited by Lori Carlson. It was my favorite of all of them because, unlike practically every other story in the book, there were no victim of racism/ashamed of their heritage/immigrant/cultural clash between parent(s) and child issues.

  10. April 20, 2009 5:56 pm

    it sounds like a good plan, trisha!
    you are doing all this on your free time, after all!

  11. April 23, 2009 11:08 am

    I’ve thought of doing this too. Why? I can afford to buy books, but the books I buy get pushed to the bottom of the pile because I owe someone a review. I am striving for a balance. Right now, I am aiming for half/half. That way I get to read the books I really, really want to too (although to be fair, I do get a fair amount of these for review as well).

  12. May 5, 2009 3:01 pm

    Hahaha! The quiz kills me, especially as I just read one that failed the romance section and caused me Great Angst.

    And I know exactly how you feel — there’s a sort of awfulness about reading a novel out of guilt or feeling like you have homework associated with it. It takes away the pleasure.

    Also, personally, I love hearing about books after they come out — sometimes months after. It doesn’t matter to me if they’re hot off the press. Interesting is interesting.

  13. September 24, 2009 10:46 am

    Okay, I’ll bite on the quiz.

    We have just completed a book for adopted teens (probably not a major demographic at your library, but often overlooked patrons). It’s a non-fiction (1 point) submission based book with over 100 entries called Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? It’s for the teen figuring out who they are while missing some pieces based on the fact they just happen to be adopted. The submissions are life experiences, sharing of feelings and just ponderings. But they are all interconnected as the pieces we put together to make ourselves. And that is universal for teens and those teens who just happen to be adopted. Publication date is November 09. There is romance (About a Boy by Melinda Rosenthal) (so somewhere between 4-100 points?) There are Asian Americans, as well as AA, foster care alumni, open and closed adoptions, kids from other places around the globe (so hopefully more points). The adopted teens who have read it have adored it because it embodies the thoughts and feelings that are universal and those feelings can make teens just feel disconnected and weird. The editor is an adoptee himself (from Vietnam…so he is Asian…not that it matters to the book although fitting in and having a different race from your parents does but we are hoping for big points here…) If you think this is something that might squeeze in with all the regular reading you want to do, I can send you a link to the entire book, or send you a copy in early November to take a look at. Hope you do….

    Carrie

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