My years of book blogging look like a bell curve: starting with a lower number of books read per year, rising steadily for several years, and then slowly dropping back down. The peak of that curve was in 2010, a year during which I read 217 books. It was also the year where my interest in publicly blogging about books started to wane, due both to outside influence (*coughNYTimescough*), and the way I was reading that year.
Guilt-reading. Looking back over my list of titles read in 2010, it’s sad for me to see that probably 75% of my reading that year carried the label of “should” or “supposed to.” I read very few books that I wanted to read, because I was so busy reading books that:
- everyone else loved and said I should read
- someone specifically recommended to me, thinking I’d love
- were given to me for review
- had been on my shelf so long that I felt I needed to read them soon
- fit a specific criteria (POC, LGBTQ, from certain countries, etc)
The result of this kind of reading is that I got completely turned off reading in general. While I kept going at this ridiculous pace (an average of 18 books per month, with an all-time high of 27 books in April that year…), I no longer enjoyed the process of reading books, much less writing about them afterwards. It was the beginning of the end for me, carrying over into the first 4-5 months of 2011 before I finally let go of all the obligations that kept me from reading only what I wanted to read.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy any books I read in 2010. Some of my very favorite books came from that year. Little Children. Germinal. Sonnets from the Portuguese. Notes on a Scandal. The Monk. And more. It was also the year I discovered the joy of audiobooks with Hardy’s Return of the Native (which remains my all-time favorite review ever). It’s just that these gems – all books I read because I wanted to, rather than because I should – were buried among dozens and dozens of guilt-reads. And that’s not cool. I am happy to say that I’ve outgrown guilt-reading, and hope never to repeat a year like 2010, despite the periodic gems.