I’ve removed the grade categories from this blog. I may also remove the “reviews” category, though I’m still pondering. Perhaps I’ll rename it… suggestions?
This is a move several of my blogging friends have made, and it resonates with me. It’s a way of moving past formats and expectations that came from outside forces — Amazon, GoodReads, NetGalley — and focusing on what we really want to say.
RRR Jessica wrote a piece some time ago about how blogging had changed in recent years, and one of the things she pointed out was the uniformity of review format. At the time, I didn’t really grasp what was wrong with this, but I think now that it’s an expression of review bloggers becoming cogs in the industry. Nothing intentional or sinister about it… but I know that when I receive an ARC, it makes me feel like I need to take a more “professional” approach to the review. And that inevitably changes my voice.
I’m not entirely giving up ARCs or professional reviews, because I get a lot out of it. I appreciate the people I get to work with, the opportunity to reach a wider audience, and that I earn a little money, even if it’s more symbolic than anything else. (I bought my husband’s birthday present with money I earned! It’s really from me!) But I’m cutting way, way back on ARCs. There’s nothing like realizing that a book you really wanted to read has become homework to make you see the downside of them. And as I think someone else pointed out — Sirius? — that defeats the purpose of getting them early, because the anticipation is gone. I can totally see getting a book read and reviewed sooner than I otherwise would have because I waited for it to be released. And even if I don’t, it will be done with much more enjoyment.
And that is, after all, what this is supposed to be about. Our love for books and reading and the fun of sharing our opinions.