Why did I get into book blogging?
Although my book blog is just a little over two years old I have been writing book reviews for almost every book I’ve read since 2012.
My own private bookstagram
I started out writing mini reviews in photo captions of books I was reading on Instagram… this was a private account with no followers so I didn’t even know bookstagram was a thing at the time! It was just a little visual diary for myself that I used to record what I was reading as most of the books I read were from the library and I have appalling memory (it’s a #spoonie thing) so it was a way for me to not accidentally re-borrow a library book!
Becoming a public book reviewer
Then in 2015 I started writing public reviews over on Goodreads because I wanted to rave about books I was really enjoying to someone. I was looking for bookish friends basically.
And that was great. I adored Goodreads in those days; I made a bunch of online friends, I joined a GR book group, and I found my review-writing voice.
As I became a daily user of Goodreads I noticed other reviewers getting ARC (advanced reader copies) of books and I wanted in on the action. Free books? Yes please!
Reading in exchange for a review
So I joined NetGalley in January 2017 and a whole other world of reading was opened up for me… I posted my ARC reviews to goodreads as usual and cross-posted to relevant retail sites as requested. And therefore the next logical step was to create a dedicated book blog. I wanted somewhere that I was in charge of my review space, where I wasn’t confined to a character limit, where I could talk about the books and the authors together …GR doesn’t like it if you talk about the authors even if it’s just to highlight their public stance on a variety of issues. I also wanted to write discussion posts about book related issues that were important to me such as the need for authentic chronic illness and disability representation in books.
And let’s be honest.
I wanted more ARCs. I’m a disabled, chronically ill woman who is unable to work. Free books are a huge windfall for someone like me on a tight budget.
So in summer 2019 A Little Haze Book Blog was born
And in the first year it was great. I found a new place for myself in the book community. I made fabulous friends. My follower count was super high and my stats were off the charts. And I got to talk about tonnes of books, both fantastic and very much not fantastic (I see you Abby Jimenez’ The Friend Zone …). I also got to write a bunch of discussion based posts. I put my heart and soul into this blog.
The realities of being chronically ill and trying to maintain posting content
But my health took a nose dive in late summer 2020. And I’ve been barely keeping my blog afloat since.
My chronic pain levels are at an all time high, I’m more fatigued than I have been for twenty years, and I’ve been dealing with recurring infections that are completely debilitating.
So in the last six to nine months I’ve blog-hopped sporadically at best. I’ve had to take a few months away from blogging during the past winter and even since my return I’ve posted infrequently. And yet all this while I’ve been getting more and more ARCs and review copies…
This year I’ve read just 32 books so far; a low number considering my average for a calendar year is 125. And of those 32 books just 3 have not been gifted review copies. On top of this I also have 28 review copies that still need to be read and reviewed.
And it’s simply become too much. Physically I’m exhausted. Mentally I’m exhausted.
Time for a change
So I’ve decided to make some changes.
- I want to make a dent in my own bookshelves for a change.
- I want to return to reading according to my mood rather than according to a publication date.
I will eventually read each of my outstanding ARCs as I was both given and accepted those copies in good faith, but I’m not giving myself a deadline. They will be read according to mood and excitement.
And once I’ve read all of those 28 books I think that’ll be it for me for ARC reviewing. My blog will be a place where I will still review what I read, but it will also return to being a place that will have more discussion posts as I won’t feel like I have to spend all my time reviewing ARCs.
I don’t know if this is what you’d term a case of blogger burnout, but in any case the root cause of my decision to give up my ARC life is because of the limitations my chronic illness places on me.
I don’t know what the future holds. My chronic illness has ebbed and flowed like this before. There was a point in my life where I pretty much read nothing for five whole years as reading was too exhausting for me; I really hope I’m not going to return to those times. (However there is greater access to audiobooks these days so that’s a comfort.)
Perhaps I won’t always be as visible as I’d like. Perhaps my reviews will get shorter. Perhaps I’ll give up reviewing and just write opinion-based discussion posts.
However, in any case I will always keep some version of this blog. I love that I’ve found a place to express myself in this little corner of the bookworld that I’ve carved out for myself.
And I hope that I’ll still get to chat to all of the wonderful friends I’ve made along the way because you all mean a great deal to me. I live a very isolated life due to my chronic illness and therefore getting comments and notifications from people interacting with my posts always brings me such great joy.
I am so thankful for the connections I’ve made with other people because of our shared love for books and reading.
Long may that continue.