It's day 4 of the week-long Book Blogger Appreciation Week and I'm missing it already! I spent some time over the past three days catching up on all the wonderful posts erupting in my Reader, and I'm nowhere there. I loved reading the posts - there were a ton of blog recommendations, all of which I managed to resist adding to my reader - not by choice though, only because I was reading mostly on my phone or iPad, and they aren't really the best devices on which to go jumping from page to page.
Today's topic about how blogging has influenced your reading was the one I was most looking forward to, mainly because I didn't know my answer yet - I was planning to write it out and see where I end up. I know for sure that what I read and the way I read has changed tremendously since the early days of blogging. And it's funny that I sit down to type up this post now, because just five minutes ago, I came across Goodreads new beta Recommendations feature that I had fun checking out. One of the first things I did, was compare the recommendations based on my Read-in-2009 shelf and my Read-so-far-in-2011 shelf, and I did come across one of the biggest changes in my reading.
Here's a portion of the 2009 recommendations:
And here's a portion of the 2011 recommendations:
I had forgotten how much light women fiction I used to read at one point. I even once bought a sack of such books that I just donated unread a few weeks ago. I can barely feel inclined to read them anymore. I still have three books to go into my supposed-to-be favorite Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. Whenever I pass by such books in an airport bookstore, I automatically move on to the next shelf, without thinking.
From the middle of last year, I've been reading a lot of literary fiction. I used to read them long before blogging too, except I didn't really know that's what they were called. This year, I started reading more graphic books - fiction and memoirs. And this is one genre I would never have discovered if not for blogging. I had always associated graphic books = superhero comics, despite having read and loved Persepolis, pre-blogging. Last year, I saw a few bloggers do the Graphics Novel challenge, and in spite of having deep reservations, I decided to try it out this year, and who knew it was going to be another favorite category of mine?
With blogging, the way I read books has also changed. I used to read faster and quicker, pre-blogging. And right away move to the next book. I rarely gave much thought to what I read, and what any of that meant. Over the past two years, my reading has slowed down in quantity, but made up in quality. I've rated more books higher now than before. And moreover, after reading each book, I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on the journey of reading that particular book - how it compared to other past reads, how it measured up with other books by that author or in that genre, what other readers (bloggers and otherwise) thought about the book. In other words, my participation in the reading experience has been more proactive than ever. There are all aspects of the book that I get pulled into now.
The best change I can say however is that - until two years ago, if someone asked me for a recommendation, I can only choose from my measly read pile. Now though, I quite easily recommend books from across the genre, even books I haven't read or seen the cover of. It's a funny feeling standing in front of a shelf in B&N and looking at a book I just saw praised that day on someone's else blog. Or looking at another book that I'd never have found on my own unless some of my favorite bloggers had put it out there as The book to read. Book blogs have given me wonderful choices. They have also made it impossibly hard for me to get out of a B&N store empty-handed!